Architural Metalworking

I'm in the market for some new light fixtures and while shopping around I was floored by the asking price for these objects de art.
It..really doesn't look all that hard to diy. Arts/crafts, blacksmithed kind things is what I have in mind. I have welding, machinng skills/tools, and always looking for any excuse to get a new tool...
Something like this would make my wify very very appreciative..:-)
http://www.vtforge.com/Products/CatalogPages07/Page116_117.htm Lists @ $1K-ish Looking for any references or tips, sources for parts, materials ED
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Tell me about the prices!! SWMBO has been on a tear to get some fixtures for her office. Right now it's back to a bare twisty florescent bulb, the last 3 fixtures were "not quite right"!!!
The electrical parts are easy to get. Everything is standardized on 1/8" pipe size fittings. Things like candelabra sized sockets, twin standard sockets, finals, ceiling rings, hooks, etc. The larger floor torchiere's use 1/4" pipe. Basic stock for these items can be had at the local home store, augmented stock from the hole in the wall lighting stores. There are a fair number of on-line parts suppliers. Here's one (of many) http://www.chandelierparts.com/index.html
The arms and such are small diameter steel tube, steel rod, and steel strap. Standard forming operations, the decreasing radius pieces are fun, doing it with tube is even more fun. Assemble with brazing, it flows out much nicer than weld.
Finish coat is a problem for me: flat white (modern) and flat black (the wrought iron look) are not an issue. But getting the pseudo antique patina look is a bummer.
I have another fixture in the hallway that came from Home Depot. The original item had a lovely ablaster shade and a hideous shape and color of support. It was a closeout, they marked it down another 15% for no box, came with a couple of florescent twisty bulbs. I cut the support arms off, bent them so they were hidden but still useful, mounted it up. It passed inspection with no comments so it must be good. :) And 1/6 the cost of the first one she tried in that spot.
ED wrote:

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wrote:
Tnks for the info- more Q's Any specs/sources on tubing type? Hows that stuff to bend into the S's without collapsing? HarborFreight cheapo bender or some shopmade tool? Can't be much force needed to beyond armstrong to bend this stuff.
Are the wires soldered and dipped? The oiled bronze finish seems to be in vogue now, auto paint? ED

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ED wrote:

I have done a few items like this using 3/8" OD x 16swg brass tube, I would expect for your application steel tube of a similar size and wall thickness would work fine. For the large sweeping bends you should just be able to bend them against a wooden former to get consistant bends without any problem with collapsing, for tighter bends some external or internal support will be required. I use a home made bender and make formers to suit. Sort of like a smaller version of this
http://www.bii1.com/images/new/RMD/RDB-100.jpg .
Regarding threads, I would verify what is used in your part of the world. A previous poster mentioned pipe thread but in the UK lighting stuff almost always seems to use BSB (British Standard Brass) which is a 26TPI constant pitch series. Sometimes item have M10 x 1 which in some cases with interchange with 3/8" BSB.

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First off, this is all about design and what looks "good". And good is in the eye of the beholder.
Someone else mentioned starting with the glass parts. I agree fully. The smaller (6" +/-) globes and shades are commonly available where ever they sell ceiling fans. Ceiling fixture glass (12" to 16") is virtually impossible to buy separate from a full light fixture.
Tubing for this sort of thing will vary depending on the "Look" that you want. 3/8"x .049" wall is quite stout for fixtures up to about 18" across. 3/8" x ..032" (20 ga) is fine, easier to work with, but may not be as rigid. 1/4" tube is pretty wimpy, almost impossible to string plastic insulted wire through. 1/2" and larger tubes are tough to bend without special equipment (mandrels, support, and all that)
If you are after a 'wrought iron' look, 3/8" square hot rolled is very easy to work with. It bends nicely, you can do the twisted sections in a vice and a big pipe wrench.
The sweep bends are pretty much trial and error. Easiest way to get started is to cut the desired bend in some plywood the same thickness as the tube diameter. Cut a couple more pieces a bit bigger and sandwich it together. Clamp the whole thing in the vice to keep the sides from spreading, start on one end, bend the part over the form. The trick is to make all of the desired bend for any 1/2" section all at once.
I'd suggest doing whatever it takes to get a mockup of the design before fighting with tub bending. Soft copper is much easier to deal with, changes involve tweakig with your thumbs. You could even paint it flat black and wire it up.
ED wrote:

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If you enjoy that light-headed feeling from seeing outrageous prices for things that any monkey with a MIG machine and an angle grinder, go to Moss in Soho.
Mind you, 99% of the cost is being able to have something that no one else has, and of course the designer's talent (but neither of those things seem to be important in this instance).
http://www.mossonline.com
How does $149 for an injection molded plastic water glass sound? $50k for a chandelier made of pieces of aluminum extrusion? Oh yes. Rich people need places to put their money.
Regards,
Robin
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On Thu, 7 Feb 2008 15:48:37 -0800 (PST), "Robin S."
Been to SoHo a few times. Raoul's is worth the wait if you can get a table. Moss's goods/prices are over the top. Target might have nearly the same glasses for what--5 bucks..
I don't mind paying for value--theres a blacksmith shop west of here that does high end mountain lodge stuff.. which is the style I'm interested in.. but his stuff is out of my budget.
We saw some of his work in a new home, on a home tour last year and the wife thought I should try and make some. ED

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Ed: I would start from the bulb/light end or glass end first. The most difficult thing to find in these situations is actually the glass parts.The glass chimneys or shrouds need to fit well on the fixture. I frequent a local junkyard where they segregate the tubes and brass parts, mostly from lighting fixtures, etc. Often, they have entire brass chandeliers, etc. Try that kind of place for parts and some inspiration. The other advice I have is make sure your wife finds something she likes and copy it. From experience, I can say I have never been unsuccessful trying to please an "I'll know it when I see it" attitude. My wife looks at magazines and we've agreed on few things I been able to make for her. She has a center piece of stainless arcs, flats and stainless mesh that SHE is quite proud of. She claims she designed it, I simply made it for her. -Mike
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Well, then do it yourself. Keep a record of the time you spend, multiply that by at least $50 per hour (that's what it costs, if not more, as a full burdern rate for a company that makes specialty items)and add in the parts. See if the prices sound all that bad.
(I think the car dealers charge $75 to $125 per hour these days.)
Pete Stanaitis -----------------
ED wrote:

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wrote:
Thats the plan, I really appreciate all the good info gotten here on RCM. I'll tenatively start by cloning some sconce's that I like that retail @ $800+ each. * $800+ USD EACH*!!!, and are something I know I can build . This artsy fartsy metalworking is a racket :-)
The materials will be under $30 and labor of maybe 2-3 hrs. Pretty decent return on my spare time IMO.
The larger pieces will require more labor but hopefully will yield significant satisfaction plus a decent $ return.
. .. ED

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