Building the Ira Lamp

Most of my memories of my paternal grandparents involve a lamp.  A mid-century ceramic terra-cotta lamp that had different sized and colored bottles painted on it.  It sat next to my grandfathers chair, where he would sit and do crossword puzzles or watch golf on TV.   When I was bored, made to sit nicely in the living room and be quiet while the adults talked,  I would study that that lamp. I loved it.  So when my grandpa Ira died, I took it. I kept that lamp for 20 years.  My husband Adrian hated it, he thought it was so ugly; but no matter how many times he made fun of it, I refused to get rid if it.

I was going to take it to a lamp store get a new shade for it (the original went bye bye a while ago and the IKEA one I had on it looked horrible) and was just about to load it into my car when I dropped it in the garage. Onto the cement floor.  It broke.

A Broken Lamp
A Broken Lamp

I was chagrined, Adrian rejoiced.  I had some nice ash left over from making Adrian's standing desk, so I decided to make a new lamp.  Turns out, it's really easy to make a lamp. See how I did it after the jump.

I had 2 pieces of ash left, so I cut them in half and glued them together.

Ash Glue Up
Ash Glue Up

Here's  what it looked like after I cleaned off the glue and sanded it. Nice grain, huh?

The Ira Lamp In Progress
The Ira Lamp In Progress

I wanted a mid-century feel for the lamp, so I searched the web for some MCM designs and I found this photo of some Paul McCobb furniture.  I fooled around with the designs on that wall hanging until I found what I liked best.

Paul McCobb Directional Stool Dresser
Paul McCobb Directional Stool Dresser
Sketching out the Ira Lamp Design
Sketching out the Ira Lamp Design

I got this lamp kit and these threaded pipes to put the cord through.

A common lamp kit
A common lamp kit

The two pipes were not quite tall enough to go through the wood so I drilled a recessed hole in the bottom with a forstner bit.

Drilling
Drilling

Then I drilled all the way through with a 1/2" bit.

Drill Press
Drill Press

Next I routed a path for the cord, so the lamp would sit flat.

The Bottom of the Ira Lamp
The Bottom of the Ira Lamp

I made the top piece from a scrap of walnut and put it all together to see how it looked.  I rounded the corners with a router to give a more finished look.

The Ira Lamp in Progress
The Ira Lamp in Progress

After I was happy with the look of the lamp, I took it to my friend Manny at 2ndwnd to get the design I had picked laser etched into the front.

The Ira Lamp Design
The Ira Lamp Design

I used tung oil on the walnut to bring out the color.  I wanted the ash to stay light and the tung oil would have made it too yellow, so I used Minwax natural stain on the body of the lamp.

All that was left to do was find a lampshade.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so I drove all around town to Ross, Marshalls, Tj Maxx, Lamps Plus, and Cost Plus.  I bought a bunch and returned them all; they just looked cheap.  In the end I did what I should have just done in the first place and bought a good one from Fantasy Lighting on Melrose.  It cost 95 bucks, but hey, this lamp is going to last forever, right? I mean, even if I drop this one, it's not going to break.  And the shade looks great!

I named it The Ira Lamp, after my grandpa.

The Ira Lamp
The Ira Lamp
The Ira Lamp at Night
The Ira Lamp at Night