Mean in green
I'm Kevin. I live in Salem, Mass with my wife and little boy and I build software.

Walnut lamp base and learning to plane

Sunday Mar 22, 2009

So, I've got all of this kiln dried walnut from my good friend Gouge. I've been sitting on it for awhile. Dave helped me plane some of it and turn it into a pretty sweet couch table, but I haven't been sure what to do with the rest. I'm currently exploring options for making lamp bases, and also looking for an excuse to learn how to hand plane. Perfect!

Without having a decent work bench, I needed a way to hold things in place because planing requires a lot of force. About halfway through the project, I decided to make a jig that really saved the day. It's a pretty simple thing that I can clamp to the front of my bench and it has an sliding "vice" that kind of takes the place of a proper vice and bench dogs. Hey, for an apartment workshop on a budget, what are you going to do?

Planing the wood was a trip because I've never done it before. It took a lot of getting used to. Changing the depth of the blade is wicked sensitive and takes ultra fine adjustment to get it right. After a half hour of chattering and sliding, I finally got into a rhythm. I even got pretty good at shearing cross grain without much chipping at all. I swear that I spent about eight hours sanding it today, but I'm really happy with the results. I gave it a first coat of tung oil and it absolutely brought the wood to life.

The next step for this base is to attach some copper pipe that I picked up from the hardware store, which I might or might not patina first. I've got a cheap lamp kit for the electric. Now, I just need to make a cool shade!

The next version is going to include a tapered walnut column that will probably be a bit tougher. Nonetheless, I'm excited to give it a try.