Agate table lamp project

DLJeffs

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I've had this idea for some table lamps for quite awhile now. Since I built those other two - with the maple arches and walnut doughnuts - not sure we need more table lamps. But I have to see if I can do this. So here goes:

Step 1: Draw up a design and get some wood. I had some beauty curly maple thins from Mike1950 and got some nice mahogany from Larry. Got a couple more maple thins from Mike so I now have wood. Checked the design against the wood to ensure the dimensions were compatible with the wood. In short, the design provides for a mahogany frame box with side panels made from the maple thins. Polished agate slices will be inserted into the panels. An LED light will be inside the box. The main light socket will extend out the top of the box. A single two pole switch will turn on the light inside the box, the main light, or both. The base will be mahogany. That's the plan.

Step 2: Figure out how to insert the agate slices into the panels. Decided the best option was to decide which side of the maple thin would be the outside. Placing the maple thin with the inside surface up, center an agate slice and trace around the agate slice. Then duplicate that line approximately an eighth inch inside the first tracing. Drill several starter / change of direction holes; put a fine tooth scroll blade in my jigsaw and cut out along the inside line. Use wood files to smooth out any rough spots and get as close to the line as possible. Note: The edges of the agate slices aren't square, they taper on way or the other. You want the largest side down against the panel when you trace it. That's also the direction the agate will be inserted during final build. If you put the agate slice in so the edges taper away from the hole, there's a good chance light will shine around the edge of the agate.

Step 3: Get a new toy - justify it to wife because she'll get two new table lamps. My new toy is a trim router. Went with the DeWalt variable speed, it seemed to get the best reviews all around and wasn't the highest priced one. It just seemed way safer than trying to use my big router. Put a rabbiting bit with a bearing in the router and set the depth to approx half the thickness of the maple thin. Then route around the inside of the cutout. This produces approx a 3/32" rabbit all around the inside of the cutout.

Step 4: Test fit the agate slice. If it doesn't fit, determine where a little trimming is needed and mark those areas with a pencil. Insert a flat trim bit in the router, set the depth the same as the rabbit, and then carefully widen the rabbit where needed. Test and repeat as needed until the agate slips into the rabbit with no force (you don't want to crack the agate slice).

When done, the agate slices should fit snugly into the rabbit. Looking at the panel from the outside face, I didn't want to see any light coming through around the edges and I don't. So far so good. I'll sand and probably round the outside edge of the cutout. I think it would look very cool if I could put a shallow angle taper around the cutout but not sure how I'd do that.

cutting holes for agates.jpg

two agates in rough cutouts from back.jpg

agate in rough cutout from back.jpg

agate in rough cutout from front.jpg

backlit agate.jpg

Made four panels today. Next, make four more panels, cut out and rough sand the panels (so I know the final thickness) and then start the mahogany frame.
 
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DLJeffs

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Wow seems like it should be a really cool final product, especially when lit up!
Hope so. Backlighting those sliced agates was the trigger...and trying to figure out something to do with those gorgeous maple thins. Still trying to decide what's the best way to secure the agate slices in the cutouts. Leaning toward a simple silicon caulk or something like that. Open for suggestions.
 
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Mr. Peet

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Hope so. Backlighting those sliced agates was the trigger...and trying to figure out something to do with those gorgeous maple thins. Still trying to decide what's the best way to secure the agate slices in the cutouts. Leaning toward a simple silicon caulk or something like that. Open for suggestions.
Brass threaded "L" brackets with rubber boots on the brass support. Allows movement. However, on the flip side with LED zero heat lights, not really an issue now days....
 

DLJeffs

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Brass threaded "L" brackets with rubber boots on the brass support. Allows movement. However, on the flip side with LED zero heat lights, not really an issue now days....
Yes, like they use for glass panels in cabinets, right? That was one of my options, as well as just making small wooden brackets. Problem is the maple thins are only 1/4" thick and I don't want tiny screws to poke through to the other side. Many silicon based caulks are good to 450 - 500F too.
 
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Karl_TN

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Can’t wait to see how this turns out. There’s a lot of great tips and those instructions.:good2:
 

DLJeffs

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How about a clear epoxy?
Thought about that. But if I ever needed to replace one of the agate slices (not that I expect them to crack or anything), most epoxies cure rock hard and are pretty difficult to remove and I'd probably end up damaging the maple. At least with a silicon you can usually cut it away with a razor. Thinking about that tho, the cutout and rabbit is custom made for that specific agate slice. If I had to replace the agate, I'd have to remake the maple panel anyway.

Which brings up another question - should I glue the panels in place? I plan to make dados on all four sides for the panels to set in. I've read where they say not to glue panels in cabinet doors and stuff because the wood "moves" a little and you need that flexibility. If I didn't glue them, and had to replace a panel, I could simply slide the broken one out and remake a new one, slide it in and put the lamp back together.
 

woodtickgreg

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Use the epoxy and don't glue the panels in. Your on the right track.
 

DLJeffs

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Finished up the panels today, cut to final dimension, sanded to 180 grit. They're looking pretty good. Unfortunately it looks like I lost most of that beautiful quilting / curling whatever it's called. Maybe it'll come back when I get to finish sanding and finishing. Next up, start cutting mahogany.

panel set 1-4.jpg

panel set a-d.jpg

panel 3.jpg

panel b held up to light.jpg

panel b.jpg

panel d back lit.jpg
 

woodtickgreg

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Will epoxy soak into the wood, potentially creating a dark spot or stain?
Not likely or not very deep. Besides that the epoxy is very clear. You could always try some on a scrap piece to see if it is to your liking. I have used it on cherry and walnut and not had any issues with staining.
 

DLJeffs

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Sorry for the month long lapse in progress. I'll never claim to be fast when it comes to working with sharp stuff that can cause me pain. But I haven't been completely slacking. I made a couple sleds - one for cross cutting flats, such as box sides: and one for making miters in smaller stock such as picture frame type stuff. Thanks to all who offered advice and guidance. I think the sled worked way better than using my chop saw for making these frames. The miters seem a lot tighter and clean. Yesterday and today I used the second sled to make the "frame" that hides the end grain on the bases for these lamps. I screwed up one base (tried to joint the end grain, doh) so I have to make another one. Then I screwed up a second time by joining the wrong edge on the frame boards, so when I fit them against the base, they're about 3/32 shorted in width. But that'll work out when I run them through my buddies drum sander to square them up. Hopefully, next I'll make the 4th base and route the dado slots in the bases. Then I check the dry fit of the boxes. Once I have the boxes done, the rest is pretty straight forward, except figuring out the best way to put the light inside the box AND run the tubing up through the box to the main light above. Stay tuned...

bases.jpg
 

DLJeffs

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Progress made today. Final trimming of box parts, routed dado cuts in the top and bottom, squared off the cuts with a chisel, and then fit up. It fit!! I'm so proud of meself. The joints are tight, it's square... now if I can just do the same on the second one. Panels are those curly maple thins Mike sold me. The top, bottom and sides are mahogany. Hopefully the color will better match when I get finish on it. The corner posts are dowelled into the top and bottom.

first box fit up parts.jpg

first box fit up parts2.jpg

first box.jpg
 
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