The farm house I was raised in was home to 5 generations of Bodleys and then Maleys. When my mother decided to move to town in the summer of 2012, we cleaned out the house and held a farm sale.
In the attic, we found an old oak lamp with very decorative glass.
I googled this on the internet, and the WB Brown Lamp Company in Blufton, Indiana probably made this lamp. The farm house was built in 1905, and the builders, the Bodleys, had relatives in Indiana. My guess is that this lamp was a house warming gift.
My sister Lisa asked me to make her at least one copy of the lamp. I was not sure where to buy the special colored glass and the dual-light fixture.
I found the dual brass light fixture and associated parts at GrandBrass.com. The fixture is model CL2505WP.
I googled to find where to buy the special colored glass. I found Kokomo Glass company in Kokomo, Indiana. It is America's oldest operating manually made glass factory. We visited their showroom and factory tour while on vacation in the Summer of 2012. The lady in their showroom immediately recognized the model number of the glass, when I showed her a picture of the 1905 lamp. I bought some of this glass to make more lamps. I suspect the WB Brown company also bought their glass from Kokomo Glass company!
I normally enter my woodworking project into Google Sketchup 3D drafting package. I do this so I better understand how to make the object, plus I often print out paper patterns to make the pieces.
I had a very difficult time entering the oak lamp shade into Sketchup because of the angled design. After taking measurements of the old lamp shade, plus making some trial and error pieces in pine, I determined the shade slides were tilted at 32 degrees, they are actually cut at 28 degrees, and the chamfer angle on the 4 joints is about 36 degrees.
After I established these 3 critical angles required to make the lamp shade, I found a downloadable calculator that computes these angles.
I then made a Sketchup model of the lamp:
The original lamp appears to be made of white oak that stained brown. A friend of mine, Tom Stevenson, gave me some surplus white oak that he had, and I am using it on this project.
SAFETY: The small horizontal piece at the top of each of the 4 sides of the lamp shape is a relatively small piece to process in woodworking equipment. I initially used my router table to cut a 1/4" wide slot to hold the glass. This small piece is hard to hold, plus has very little surface area to rest flat on the router table. I found it much safer to pinch the piece in the vise, then use a hand saw to cut out the 1/4" wide slot.
Making My 1st Lamp Shade Side
Below is a photo of the first lamp shade side that I made:
Below I compare my lamp shade side to the 1905 original:
Lord and behold...........my 2012 lamp shade side matches the original 1905 lamp shade
Gluing and Clamping the 1st Lamp Shade 4 Sides:
It was a challenge to figure out how to glue and clamp up the lamp shade frame. I used scrap dowels and the old string and wound nail trick to apply the correct clamping pressure...........
Changing the shade top angle to 90 Degrees
The top of the shade needs to be flat or horizontal, so the cap piece sets nicely on top. I could have tried to cut these angles on the individual 4 sides, but I elected not to. I planned on used the Wagner Saf-T-Planer on my drill press to carefully plane the tops horizontal. I used a flat scrap piece of particle board for the shade to rest on.
This technique worked very well. Unfortunately, I can not use the same technique to make the bottom of the shade frame horizontal. If you set the shade on the small end, it is too wobbly to properly support the shade while planing. Later I will use the horizontal belt sander to make the bottoms horizontal.
Making the Miter trim pieces for the 4 inside corners of the lamp shade
By trial and error cutting, I determined the inside corner angle was 15 degrees. You can see the original corner miter pieces below:
Once you saw the 15 degree angle, then you need to saw the same piece at 45 degrees. On my table saw, the 45 degree cut would result in no space for a push stick to feed the piece through the saw. To make it safer, I glued on a piece of sacrificial pine to the white oak as shown below:
I then glued and clamped the 4 miter molding pieces to the 4 inside angles of the shade:
The next step was to find the right angle for the 4 short blocks that attach the shade frame to the first horizontal cap piece. By trial and error sawing, I found this angle to be 32 degrees. Here is a photo documenting the many angles required so far to build this project......
Making the 45 Degree side blocks
I used a stop block set-up on my table saw to make sure I sawed them all the same length:
From a safety perspective, you can not put the stop block between the blade and the fence, because it will bind up. The pieces are too short to feed normally against the fence. This method works safely.
I then drilled the center hole, then band-sawed the square blocks into 45 degree pieces. The band saw created some burn marks on the white oak, so I dusted them using the belt sander to remove the burn marks.
Next was drilling 2 holes in each angle block. I made a jig from a 2x4 that accounts for the 45 degrees on the drill press:
Making the Center Post
The center post is 1-3/4 x 1-3/4 inch, so I used a thick piece of white oak to saw out the blanks:
The real challenge is drilling a 1/2" diameter hole the whole 12 inches through the center post. I started the holes in the drill press. I used Rockler black plastic 90 degree guides to assure I was drilling vertically.
I tried using the drill press to finish drilling the holes:
I had some issues using this approach, so I switched to finish drilling from both ends, with the column held horizontally in the vise, and using an electric hand-held drill. The built-in level on the drill helped to assure I was drilling horizontally. This method worked fine.
Notching the base legs:
I used the radial-arm saw to cut the lap-joints required for the base legs. I used trial and error on the depth, and carefully increased depth about 3 times on one piece, until I got a perfect fit.
Assembly of the Lower Lamp Portion
Here are some of the different brass screws I may be using on this project:
4 Small Angle Pieces at Top of Inside of Shade
The original shade had 4 pieces glued to the shade frame and first top cap. Each piece was about 1 to 1.25 inches long.
I measured the angle required, then cut that angle on the table saw. Then, another angle cut was needed, kind of like a 45 degree angle across the other angle. I was unable to make this cut on the table saw. I resorted to hand sawing the special angle with the piece held in the vise.
Here are 2 of these pieces in their proper position..........
Below are the 4 short pieces glued and clamped up.......
Bending and Cutting the 4 Brass Corner Strips
I measured the original lamp, and the brass was 1 inch wide and .025 to .027 inch thick. I found 1x0.025 inch brass at McMaster-Carr:
I was very concerned about how to bend the brass so it looked very nice on the outside of the lamp. So I made a fixture to bend the brass.
The final angle is about 10 degrees less than a 90 degree corner. I made the fixture with 90 degree corners, because of the "spring back" of the brass. I placed a scrap piece of wood on the brass, then hit the scrap with the hammer. When I was done bending, the angle was less than 90 degrees due to spring back.
I found it easier to cut the angles on both ends of the brass before I bent it...........versus bending it then cutting the angles.
I used hand shears to cut the brass before bending.
Cutting Glass.....or a side-trip to Hell
After finishing all the wood pieces, and the brass pieces.........I was excited to cut the 4 panels of glass. We stopped at Kokomo glass last August on vacation, and I bought 2 big sheets of glass.
Here is the first sheet all ready to cut. I placed it on a large beach towel on my wood work table...
I watched a Youtube video showing a lady cutting plain picture frame glass....since I have never cut glass before. She said the following:
-cushion glass by setting it on a towel
-use a straight-edge with cork bottom, so it would not slip on the glass while you are scoring it
-no oil lube required on the cutter
-make a continuous stroke, you should hear the glass being scored or marked
-grasp each side of the score with the your hands, and break glass
Boy, she sure made it look easy.
I bought a new glass cutter......
I bought an aluminum ruler with cork bottom.
This design of Kokomo glass has a smoother side, and a rougher side. I decided to cut it on the smoother side, because you can never score all the imperfections in the rough side. The smooth side is not really smooth like picture frame glass either.
The first thing that went wrong was the new rulers. The aluminum and cork were so thin, the ruler slipped under the body of the cutter. I guess I should have bought some thicker cork, and made my own straight-edge. I substituted a white oak stick, but it wanted to slip while I was cutting. I clamped down one end, and then it seemed to stay put fairly well.
The second thing that went wrong was no scoring sound when I cut the glass. It was an intermittent sound at best. I then tried dipping the cutting wheel in oil, but this did not help either.
The only thing I could get to half-way work was to score the line between 10 and 20 times. Sometimes it would break the right way.
Then I must have been pressing down so hard trying to score this glass, that I broke the first cutter. The little shaft that holds the wheel fell out. I went to Ace and bought a new cutter.
I scrapped as much glass, maybe more, than the 4 pieces I netted out of 2 big sheets.
I was able to use the belt sander with 60 grit paper to smooth the 4 edges of the cut glass.
You must have to do something different with this model 12P or 12LL Kokomo glass, with respect to how you cut it. I have emailed Kokomo, to try to see what the secret it.
I Googled to see if there was some secret to cutting opalescent glass like this, but could not find anything.
I thought making the angled shade was tough on this project.......it now looks easy compared to cutting this Kokomo glass!!
Update on Cutting Glass
The lady from Kokomo glass replied to my email asking what the secret was to cutting their 12P model glass:
No secrets. The diamond or carbide tip on the glass cutter needs to be oiled. We suggest cutting oil or kerosene as a lubricant for the cutting wheel. Beyond that you use a SINGLE motion to score the glass applying aproximately eight pounds of pressure. You should hear a scratching noise as the glass is scored with the cutter. If you have done this correctly, the glass will break apart easily by applying pressure on both sides of the score line pushing upward. That is to say that the score line is on top and your use an upward pressure on either side of the score line. If you do not get the score line correct, you can use the ball or screw cap which is metal on the back of the cutter to lightly tap the score line through the glass by tapping the underside of the glass below the score line. Often just by tapping the underside of the glass it will break apart. Give us a call if you are still having difficulties.
I then went to Hobby Lobby today and bought a pistol grip type cutter. I had no success with the straight plain cutter, so I thought I would try this.
Ready for Staining
Here are all the pieces required to assemble the lamp, not counting the electrical bulb fixture and cord.....
I chose a Teak stain for this white oak because it seemed to math the original 1905 lamp the best. I had to use an artist's brush to get the stain into the top inside of the shade.
And here are all the parts stained. Next will be 3 cycles of 220 grit sanding and polyurethane finish.
Brass Lamp Parts
I had some trouble, but I found a web site that had the right kind of lamp fixture for the 2 bulbs. It was GrandBrass.com.......
Finished Oak Lamp
And here is a photo of the old 1905 lamp on left, and new 2013 lamp on right........
Here is the top electrical portion of the new lamp.......
Here is the inside of the lamp shade for the new lamp.....
And the light generated by the new lamp in the dark........
Closing Thoughts and Lessons Learned on This Project
When making each side of the 4 sides on the shade, mark in pencil those areas that need material removed to make the lap joints. It is easy to get confused and remove material from the wrong place. Also double-check and make sure top and bottom pieces will run horizontal with no joint mark (the 2 sides could have the no joint marks versus the top/bottom with no joints).
I made each side to the finished width without the side chamfers cut. This means you have to line up each piece manually when you cut the chamfer, and try to end up the same width on all 4 sides. It might be easy to make side frames about a 1/4"wider on each side, then miter saw them to the same width........so all 4 sides are exactly the same width.
Before gluing up each of the 4 sides, make sure you did route the glass grooves in all 4 pieces. I forgot to do one and had to make it with the Dremel after the shade was assembled. I used a small round saw blade on the Dremel to cut most of the groove, but remember this is a very dangerous attachment to use on the Dremel.....because it a saw with no guard.
The small horizontal piece at the top of each of the 4 sides of the lamp shape is a relatively small piece to process in woodworking equipment. I initially used my router table to cut a 1/4" wide slot to hold the glass. This small piece is hard to hold, plus has very little surface area to rest flat on the router table. I found it much safer to pinch the piece in the vise, then use a hand saw to cut out the 1/4" wide slot.
Also hand saw the 4 little 1 inch long piece pieces for the top inside of the shade, as shown above.
Mount the 4 shade supporting brackets one at at time using the shade......versus installing all 4 brackets then checking the fit with the shade. Also wait to scroll saw the notch in each bracket until you use the shade with it.
Use a hand shears or tin snips to cut both ends of the brass strip before bending as noted above.
The roughly 4x4 cap on top of the shade is both glued and screwed to the main shade body. This may be designed this way because there is a natural tendency to pick up the shade using this cap piece.....so the designer did not want it to fall off the main body of the shade.
With white oak, all screw holes must be pilot drilled first. Brass screws also strip easily, so the holes need to be the right pilot size.
The glass cutting turned out to be the most difficult part of this project. Alternatives to cutting the glass yourself include hiring Kokomo glass to cut the pieces, or hire a local glass cutter.
Follow-up Note in Feb 2014
An expert on WB Brown lamps saw my web site and contacted me by email. He does not think this was a WB Brown lamp. He thinks it was home-made using a 1909 Popular Mechanics plan.
I actually have the 1909 Popular Mechanics book,
I gave this lamp to my sister for Christmas of 2012. In Feb of 2019, she sent the base home with me for electrical repair. She likes to turn on the lamp in the evening using the pull-chain. After just 6 years, she wore out both pull chains, where they no longer click when you pull them!!!!!!!
I am really disappointed the pull chains only lasted 6 years, I gave $36 for the whole assembly back in 2012, and I expected it to last at least 10 years!!
I went to the grandbrass.com web site, and they do sell replacement pull chain assemblies for $5 each plus shipping.
On a hunch, I went to my Fairbury Ace hardware store, and they also had them for $6 each with no shipping cost.
After I got the pull-chain sockets removed from the lamp, I figured out that some grease is needed in the pull-chain assembly. There is a wound spring, and also a rotating plate that has to go up and over some pins. Once I sprayed some WD-40 on the spring and plate area............the pull chain started working fine. I ended up putting in the 2 new pull-chain assemblies I bought from Ace...........but I saved the old 2..........because with a little grease, they would work fine.
I did not know these pull-chains relied on some grease !!