Once the final sanding of all of the pieces had been completed and the miters had been test fit, it was time to make the last component. As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I’ve been building a floor lamp, and a base is necessary to anchor the stainless steel rod that will run through the center and house the wiring. There wasn’t much magic involved in making this base other than deciding on a shape and determining the angle of the edges. With the last part complete, it was time to move onto assembly and finishing.
A maker can either ruin an otherwise nice piece, or elevate it from good to great depending on their attention to finishing. I’m not sure if it’s because the shape of this lamp reminds me of a damigiana bottle, or I’ve been bombarded for too long by ads for The Green Hornet and Green Lantern movies, but from the beginning I’ve imagined this piece as being a very dark green. I don’t like the idea of painting any of my pieces because it conceals the grain and detail too much, but I’ve experimented with dyes from time to time and generally liked the results
Water based dyes raise the grain of the wood substantially when applied, and while this can be dealt with, I prefer to mix dyes with denatured alcohol and lacquer thinner. I tested the dye, along with the intended top coat, on a scrap of ash and adjusted the tint until I found the color that I was after. It would have been very difficult to apply the stain evenly to some sections after assembly, so I dyed the interior side of the parts as well as the base. I produced the shade that I wanted after a few coats, and once the parts were dry the final assembly was completed.
During assembly, the base was screwed into the sides and the holes were filled with tapered ash plugs. Once the glue had dried, I set about paring the plugs flush as well as very top where lamp socket fits. It takes a bit of willpower at this point to slow down because it’s so tempting to sprint towards the finish, but it’s critical to make certain that everything is as it should be prior to applying any finish. During the assembly any glue residue on the piece will become a glaring problem once the finish is applied so this final surface preparation is crucial. After a final inspection, and more light sanding to remove a few errant scratches, I applied the dye to the outside of the piece.
Even though the dye was not water based, after a few coats the surface felt a little fuzzy, so I knocked back the grain with a very light pass of high grit paper and applied one last coat. Once the dye had dried I made one last ultralight pass with high grit paper and sprayed on a few coats of water based satin polyurethane to complete the finish.
If you’ve been following this entire series as I’ve plodded along, thanks for your patience. This afternoon I’ll be setting up the lighting equipment and taking photos of the finished pieces for the final installment. I mentioned very early on that I had an idea for a variation, and in truth I’ve been building it in parallel with this one. I’ll unveil that one as well in the final installment.
As always, thanks for reading.