Wall Vent Cover

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14 mounted

This wooden wall vent cover is for the fan I have that blows warm air from the wood stove heated living room into the second floor. The light weight balsa fins open with air flow automatically.

11 wall fan

This is the fan as it sat before the vent cover. This blows into a bedroom on the second floor.

31 Teslapunk Smoke Detector

The vent at the top of this image to the left of the fire alarm bell is the other side of the vent in the Steampunk living room.


First I made an oak frame to fit over the pipe and fan. I used pickling stain color and a semi-gloss varnish.

2 loovers

I created louvers using balsa wood. These were wired to thin brass rod.

4 laid in place

The louvers are seen here lying in there final location on the frame. They were also coated with the pickling stain and varnished.

Brass plate was used to make mounting brackets.

7 loover hung

One of the louvers hung from the first mounting brackets.

8 diskI used brass rod to make bushings to hold the louvers in place.

9 complete

The completed unit ready to mount.

12 frame mount

The frame was screwed to the wall.

14 mounted

Then the louvers were hung in place.

15 fan on

When the fan is turned on the light weight balsa louvers swing outward allowing air flow.

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Antique Sourced Wall Cabinet

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35 Mounted

I made this up-cycled Steampunk wall cabinet for Kathleen for Christmas. It uses wood salvaged from an antique wood filing cabinet.

1 Filing Cabinet Boards

The wood portions were taken entirely from these wood drawer sides I scavenged from an antique filing cabinet. They are pretty nice solid wood one half inch thick. I think its American Beech, but it could be Ash or Poplar as well. The filing cabinet was given to me by some friends who thought I might want to restore it. Once I started looking at it, it became obvious that it was pretty much beyond repair. So I scrapped it out for the hardware. These drawer sides I saved because they were solid wood and had a nice patina.

2- Ripped to width

The first thing I did was rip the boards all to the same width. This cut off the small grooves where the drawer bottoms slid into.

3-Back glued together

I used three of the boards cut to the same length and glued together for the front and back of the cabinet.

The sides, top and bottom were cut to the proper lengths, then glued and screwed to the back.

6 Sides glued

This is the completed box that is the base of the cabinet.

7 glued from back

Another view showing the back.

A center shelf piece was cut to length and shelf supports fastened into place.

11 shelf

Here the shelf is set in place. A narrow strip was also screwed and glued to the bottom of the front. This will be the mounting spot for the hinges of the door front.

12 front door

The door front has been set in place on top of the narrow strip in this picture.

13 Staining door

15 Stained box

17 Varnished box

Everything was then sanded and stained.

14 hinge blocks

These blocks were cut and stained.

16 hinges

These vintage hinges are the reason for the blocks. I had these in my inventory and thought they would look perfect.

18 Varnished door with steel supports

19 Hinges + blocks mounted

Here everything has been given two coats of varnish and the front door and hinges are mounted. Steel angle iron sides pieces were cut and mounted temporarily before painting.

21 opened

A view with the door open.

23 Top Edge Steel

A piece of angle iron will act as the latch and is set in place here on the top of the door.

24 Top Steel latch

A pieces of 1/4 inch brass will be screwed to the latch. Lifting the bar will allow the door to be swung forward.

26 Latch closed

Here the latch is set with brass supports is in place.

27 Latch open

Chains were added to support the door at 90 degrees when open.

29 Painted latch closeup 1

A close up of the latch. All the angle iron has been painted black.

31 Painted latch closeup 2

The latch lifts like this allowing the door to be opened.

32 fInal closed

A brass knob with numbered brass plate was added to the center/top of the door.

33 Final open

The complete cabinet open.

35 Mounted

34 Mounted

These two pictures are of the cabinet mounted to the wall in its final location.

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Steampunk Ceiling Light

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96 mounted 4


Next I wanted to make a ceiling lamp for the guest bedroom.

5 light base

I am going to use this base from an old globe. I will use this as the base for the ceiling light.

6 light arm concept

The concept is to create three wooden arms that will mount to the base. One will hold the bulb inside the glass sphere shown here. The other two will point back towards the sphere.

1 Light forearms taper cut

First I taper cut some oak that will create the three forearms.

2 light forearms router

The edges were notched using a router. All of the arm edges will have quarter inch brass rod inlaid  as shown here.

The upper arm of each were cut and notched as well. The upper arms were not tapered.

7 making base blocks

Then wood blocks were cut that will be mounted to the base and be the attachment points for the arms.

8 base blocks mounted

The blocks mount with 1/4 inch screws to the base.

9 Steel base block

For the lamp arm I decided to remake the the block from steel. The lamp will be much more heavy. Thought the oak block might split from the pressure.

11 arms mounted12 arms mounted

These are two views of the upper arms mounted to the base.

13 forearms trimmed to size

The two forearms that will not support the lamp were trimmed down and rounded to shape.

14 measuring for length

I used a paper tube the same diameter as the lamp sphere to figure out where to mount the forearms.

15 steam up forearms

The forearms were drilled. Some gears were added to steampunk it up a bit.

16 Arms mounted with brass

This is a close up of the arms mounted to the base with brass plates.

17 Forearms and arms mounted

Brass plates were also used to attach the two forearm pieces.

18 Forearms and arms

This is another view.

19 Lamp forearm

The forearm for the lamp was pre-drilled to accept a 1/8 NPS threaded lamp rod.

A 1/8 inch copper plate will be used to mount the rod to the forearm.

24 lamp mounting plate 3

Here the copper plate has been cut to size ready to be attached.

25 lamp mounting plate 4

The lamp rod mounted to the forearm.

26 lamp housing and socket 127 lamp housing and socket 2

A  1 and 3/4 inch piece pf copper tubing will be used to mount the bulb socket to the lamp forearm.

28 lamp housing bracket

This lamp washer and the copper tube were drilled to accept brackets that will hold the washer to the tube.

32 housing brackets29 lamp housing bracket 131 lamp housing bracket 2

Quarter inch brass flat stock was used to create the brackets.

33 Lamp housing bracket 3

The brackets attach at the edge.

34 lamp housing mounted 1

The lamp socket mounted to the lamp rod.

35 lamp housing mounted 2

A view of the lamp housing from below.


I did some more work on Sunday. I have started to work on the finish surfaces as well as the mount for the glass globe.

36 Base blocks painted

Here the base mounting blocks have been painted black. You can also see the brass acorn nuts that will be used in the final mountings.

37 Varnish and Stain

The two upper arms were stained and varnished.

38 glabe support 139 Globe support 2

Mounting rods for the globe were cut to length and drilled. They are seen in the picture on the bottom temporarily mounted.

41 globe support 3

The globe will rest on these rods.

42 Globe support 4

Right angle pieces will be attached to each support.

43 Soldered globe support 1

Each right angle vertical piece was then drilled and soldered into place.

44 Soldered globe support 2

The tops of each vertical rod were drilled and tapped to accept 6-32 brass set screws.

45 Globe on support

Here the globe has been mounted to the support with the set screws holding it in place.

46 Globe arm in place

The forearm for the lamp/globe support was held in place in order to mark it for cutting and mounting permanently.

47 Globe arm glued

The forearm piece was cut and slotted then glued into place.

48 Arms stained and varnished

This is a view of the base with the three arms mounted. Two have been stained and varnished, but are missing the forearm pieces. The third is the lamp arm with the upper and fore arm pieces in place. This will be stained and varnished next.

49 base after mounting

Close up of base with arms mounted.

51 forearm brackets

Mounting bracket for the forearms of the non-lamp support arms.

52 Lamp arm mounted

Close of lamp arm mounted to the base.


53 lamp bracket

I was looking at the mount for the lamp on the third arm and realized that the whole lamp assembly would be supported by these two small wood screws.

55 lamp flange 254 bracket with flange


So I soldered some brass plates to the copper mount in order to make it into a flange. This will be attached onto the end of the arm. Now it will be held in place with two screws through the flange and the end of the lamp arm.

56 holes wrong in flange

Then I realized that I drilled the holes too far apart.

57 Holes moved

So I re-drilled the holes and added some patches to the old holes.

58 Light so far

In the mean time I had stained and varnished the remaining wood pieces. Here is the hole thing reassembled temporarily. Now you can get a better picture of what the light will eventually look like. Next up is apply the quarter inch brass rod inlays to all edges. Then the light still needs to be wired. Finally there will be some other embellishments.


59 Wiring Lamp 161 Wiring Lamp 2

I decided to work on the arm that holds the lamp first. Here I wired the socket and lamp holder.

62 wiring lamp 3

Here you can see the lamp socket inside the holder.

63 Cutting Brass

The next step is cutting and fitting all of the brass inlay pieces for the lamp arms. Here I am cutting an angle onto the first piece.

64 Brass 165 Brass 2

After cutting the angles, the pieces were put in place to check fit.

66 Brass cut67 Brass Drilled

AT the top all of the brass inlay pieces for the lamp arm have been cut and shaped. On the bottom they have been pre-drilled for attaching to the oak arm with #4 1/2 inch brass wood screws.

68 Attaching brass

The brass was held in place with clamps. The wood was then drilled and the screws added.

69 Brass complete 171 Brass complete 2

These are two views of the brass inlays screwed into place on the lamp arm.

72 Lamp arm gears 173 Lamp arm gears 2

Gears were added in the area of the joint to make it look like the joint is mechanically adjustable.

75 Lamp Arm Complete 2

The completed and wired lamp arm. The cloth covered wire goes through two brass eyes and into the base.

74 Lamp Arm Complete 1

Another view of the completed lamp arm

76 Lamp arm complete 3

A shot from the other side. Next I’ll be working on the inlays for the other arms. Pretty close to being done.


Today I completed the brass inlays on the other two arms.

77 Forearm inlays78 Fore arm inlays complete

I started by completing the two forearm pieces.

79 Fore arm inlays mounted

This is the forearm mounted.

81 Forearm mounted

This is with both mounted. Then I took the arms back apart in order to add the inlays to the upper arms.

83 upper arm inlays

This is the first arm completed.84 All arms mounted 1

Both arms completed and mounted.

85 all arms mounted 2

This is another view.

86 Light test 1

This is a picture of the lamp test.

87 light test 2

And finally one more of the lamp test.

All that is left to do is make a 1/8 NPS threaded finial in order to mount it to the ceiling.


91 Finail Placement

The brass knob in the center of the light I found in my metal scrap. I think it will amke a perfect finial. Just need to drill and tap it.

On the left boring the brass finial and on the right tapping.

92 finial with rod

After completion I threading I attached the lamp rod and holder into the final. This rod will hold the light to the ceiling.

99 mounted 7

Finally, the lamp mounted and lit.

98 mounted 6

A view from the other side.

97 mounted 5

Here the light is turned off.

96 mounted 4

Another with the light off.

95 mounted 3

Another view.

94 Mounted 2

And another.

93 Mounted 1

One more

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Steampunk Desk Lamp

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93 Steampunk Lamp 1

Completed microscope restoration 2

Earlier this month I restored this antique microscope.

1 Broken Microscpoe base

One of the parts I replaced was the base as the old one had a broken mounting bracket.

Microscope Lamp 4

I had made this lamp from a base that I had purchased as a replacement but was the wrong size for the microscope.  The weight of the base worked really well as a counter balance so I decided to use the broken base to make another lamp.

2 Paint Stripped and rough cut3 milling flat

First I cut of the other tab and milled down the surface that remained.

4 milled flat5 milled drilled

Once flat I drilled the base to accept a rod that will form a swivel for the new lamp.

This base is lighter than the one I used for the first lamp, so I am going to use this antique/vintage lamp head off of an old sewing machine. It has a really good look and I think I can Steampunk up the swivel and arm between the base and the lamp.

12 rewire

I used reproduction cloth covered cord to rewire the lamp.

13 wired

Put it back together.

14 Light alight

And tested it out. Looks like it should be plenty bright.

15 Brass rod

I’ll use this piece of brass rod to create the swivel that fits into the base.


16 Cutting swivel17 Swivel inserted

The brass rod was cut and turned on the lathe to fit into the mounting hole of the base.

19 Swivel + Brass Stop18 Brass stop

A brass washer was added to act as a stop/support for the swivel piece. This will be soldered into place when complete.

21 cutting slot22 Swivel slot

A slot was machined into the top of the swivel piece. This will accept a mounting gear.

23 Slotted swivel mounted

The base and swivel.

24 Eye for cord

The swivel was tapped and drilled so a metal eye could be threaded into the swivel. The cord will run through this eye.

25 Ready to solder

This is the mounting gear for the arm that will support the lamp. The slotted section was drilled through and tapped  to accept a 6-32 brass screw. The gear was drilled so it could be mounted into the slot. Then the screw was put in to hold the gear in place while soldering.

26 soldered gear in place

All of the brass pieces were soldered into place. The metal eye was then threaded into its final location. The next step will be to fabricate the arm and gear mechanism that supports the lamp.


After completing the base I decided to finish the lamp end. The lamp shade and bulb holder did not have a clamp to mount them together.

9 Vintage socket 1

I decided I would make a stainless steel ring that would serve both as the clamp to hold the shade to the bulb holder and as a mount to the rest of the lamp.

The ring was machined from a piece o 303 stainless stock I had in my bin.

The inside of the ring was bored out until the shade could be slid into the hole.

36 Ring 9

The ring was then cut off and machined to the correct thickness.

37 Lamp + Ring

The ring ready for final machining.

The ring was notched on both sides, then drilled in the notch for inserting screws.

The ring was then split in half.

The bottom holes were tapped so screws could be threaded in.

46 Lamp Assembled

The ring mounting clamp in place.

The ring was drilled and tapped on the bottom so it could be screwed to a brass mounting rod.

A piece of aluminum was used to make a mounting bracket.

53 Lamp mount

The completed mounting bracket.

54 Lamp+Mount+Rod

The assembled top end of the lamp. The lamp head can be slid back and forth on the brass rod as well as twisted around the rod.

One quarter inch brass rod was used to create the arm that will connect the base to the top end.

57 Lamp+arm+ base

This is the lamp so far. A second gear was added half way up the arm that meshes with the lower gear. By holding this second gear in place the lamp can be adjusted up and down.


I added this screw brake to the top gear. I had hoped that tightening the axle/screw shaft that passes through the gear would be enough friction to hold the angle of the lamp in place. This was not the case so a drilled and tapped a hole on one side and soldered a brass washer on the other. The washer acts as a brake pad on the one side. Tightening the break screw holds the lamp very well at what ever angle is desired.

62 Lamp so far

A side view with everything so far.

These brass washers were drilled and marked for soldering to each arm shaft. These will serve as brackets for holding some oak strips in place on each brass rod.

On the left are the washers laid in place and on the right the washers are clamped temporarily for soldering.

67 Soldered 1

First one soldered.

68 Soldered 2

This is both rods after soldering.

A close up and full view of the lamps with the washer brackets in place.

I cut some oak into 1/4 x 3/4 inch strips. They were then milled at an angle to create four oak strips that will be applied to the brass rods.

75 Oak Strips shaped

The completed strips.

76 Oak strip location

This is where they will be mounted when complete.

These are two views of the oak strips after sanding and fitting.

79 Oak strips mounted 1

Each oak strip is held in place by three #0 1/4 in brass would screws.

81 Oak strips mounted 2

Both lamp arms with oak strips screwed into place. Now I just need to take them off and stain and varnish each strip.

While waiting for the stain to dry I added this washer to the Knurled nut that holds the top mount in place. This matches what I did for the head of the brake screw.

I also added a washer to the top mount for holding the cord in place. This is the mount that the knurled nut and screw go through.

86 Top mount painted black

The top mount was painted black. This will probably need a second coat. When this and the oak strips are all dry the lamp can be re-assembled.


87 Stained and Varnished

The oak strips after staining and applying varnish.

88 Oak Strips mounted

The completed arm halves with oak strips attached.

This is a couple of views of the arm assembly being put back together.

92 Base + Pads

I added some felt pads to the base.

93 Steampunk Lamp 1

The completed lamp.

94 Steanpunk lamp 2

Swung to the side.

95 Steampunk lamp 3

Adjusted to an extended position.

96 Steampunk Lamp 4

Another view in the extended position. The lamp rotates around the base and the arm can be moved up and down. In addition the head can be set at different angles and the lamp rotated around its mounting shaft. This gives the lamp multiple degrees of positioning.

97 Steampunk lamp 5

One last view with the lamp turned on.

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Maxwellian Lamps

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55 Another view


I am continuing work on lighting for our guest bedroom. This week I worked on lamps for the side tables on either side of the bed. These are in a Teslapunk style and feature etched glass versions of Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism. For more on Maxwell’s Equations see here.

1 antique gas lamps

I purchased these antique lamps at a flea market several years ago. Kathleen saw them and thought they looked really unique

2 lamp inside

They were pretty old and dirty.

3 Soot in lid

It’s hard to see in this picture of the inside top of one of the lamps, but there is a layer of soot inside. I realized that these were gas lamps that had been converted to electric at one time. The are cast pieces made entirely of tin. That puts there age back around 100 years I think.

5 glass plates4 glass removed

I removed the glass plates and old electrical hardware.

6 oak for new bases

Then I found some oak pieces to make a base for the lamps.

7 cut to size

Two pieces were cut to size.

8 drilled for cord9 More cord dilling

The bases were then drilled so the cord could be inserted into the base and up through the lamp.

11-cord threaded

Like this.

12 routered edge sanded

I routered a round edge all the way around the bases.

13 set in place

The bases just fit the lamps. I am came up with an idea to make some brass clips to hold the lamps to the bases.

14 slots for brackets

To make this work I cut some slots into the base on the top of the right and left side.

14 Stained+Varnish

These are the completed bases with slots stained and varnished.

15 Fab Bracket 116 Fab Bracket 2

Next I machined some brass rod that will serve as the clip/fastener.

17 -4 brackets

There are four, two for each lamp.

18 Bracket Notch 119 Bracket Notch 2

Then I machined a notch in each clip the same height as the bottom of the tin bottom of each lamp.

21 Brackets with notches

These are the completed clips with one set in place showing how it will clip the base to the lamp.

22 Mounting Scheme

A base mounted temporarily.

23 new hardwareThis is the new hardware and switches for the lamp.

24 Brass Medallions 1

I had purchased a number of these brass plates that were stamped with a number. They were fairly old and I thought they would look very nice as an accent to the lamps.

25 Brass Medallions 2

I added three to each lamp. One on the front and one on each side.

26 New Switch

A new switch mounted and ready for wiring.

27 New lamp socket

New lamp hardware was also attached.

28 WiringThe top was then wired.

29 Ready for bulbs

The lamps ready to be attached to the new bases.

31 Felt Bottoms

Stick on red felt was applied to the bottom of each base.

32 Wiring through base

Reproduction cloth covered cord was inserted into each base.

33 Wired with base

The cord was wired into the switch and the clips put in place to attach the bases to the lamps.

34 Edison Bulb

I will use these reproduction Edison bulbs for both lamps. Next, I need to make replacement glass.

36 new glass 235 New Glass 1

I am terrible at cutting glass so I had the glass cut at a glass shop.

37 Vinyl Letters38 Glass Etchant

I  used these vinyl letters and a glass etching paste to frost the glass pieces and add clear lettering.

39 Maxwells Equations

I decided to put Maxwell’s equations on the glass plates, one on each side. The electromagnetic equations actually predict the existence of light. They were derived in the mid 1800’s by James Clerk Maxwell based on the work of many people who were attempting to work out the physics of electricity and magnetism. I thought it would be cool to have these equations on a lamp that was converted from gas to electricity back when these equations were revolutionizing the way people lived.

41 Letters

The first equation in vinyl letters.

42 Etching

The etchant was applied and five minutes later.

43 First one done

The first plates are done.

The next two are completed.

The next two, getting more complex.

48 Fourth Vinyl

The final plates.

49 Complete

A completed lamp with the glass inserted and to top set back on.

51 Complete lit

Maxwell’s equations work Light is created.

52 Both Lamps complete

The lamps in there final locations.

53 Right Lamp

Right side table.

54 Left Lamp

Left side table.

55 Another view

Another picture.

56 Left Lit

Left side.

57 Closeup right


58 Close up left

And one more.


59 etched detail 1

Etched equation close up.

61 etched detail 2

Another view of an etched equation.

59 etched detail 1

Two equations.

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Teslapunk Night Light

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This Teslapunk night light was inspired by the sub genre of Steampunk. You can see more about it here.

34 add two



1-Vintage ammeter

This is a vintage ammeter I picked up at a flea market over the summer. I had this idea to make it into a night light for the hallway outside my bedroom.

2-ammeter back

This is the back side.

4 Inside of front5-inside of front face removed3-inside of back

When taken apart you can see it has a lot of area inside, or at least it will have when I remove the components.

6-inside front guts removed

This is the inside of the top with everything removed. I decided to remove all the brass pins on the surface that were used to mount the internals and the dial face.

7-inside front drilling +pins removed8-inside fron tapping

I then drilled and tapped the brass plugs that were left from the pins so I could remount the dial face again only deeper inside the lens and bezel.

9-adding 3rd hole for face11-tapping 3rd hole

Because there was a third brass plug left at the top I added another 4-40 brass mounting screw to this location.

12-face remounted lower

This is the meter with the dial face remounted in its new lower position.

13-face remounted+lens

Meter with the lens and bezel set back in place. Now I have enough space to add a high brightness neon bulb inside at the bottom of the face. The neon will light up the face and reflect nicely outward. I chose a neon bulb for a bunch of reasons. They run off of mains power (120VAC), they draw very little current (~1.3mA), they last a long time and they look really vintage.

14-Wall transformer

So now I need to get power into my light. After mulling several ideas I came up with using the plastic back of a wall plug in transformer.

I took it apart and trimmed it down so that it would fit inside the meter housing.

Next I notched the brass plate from the back of the meter to fit around the raised plug area of the plastic transformer plate.19-brass plate +plug mounted

Then I drilled three holes to allow the plastic plug plate to be securely attached to the brass meter back. The plastic was also drilled to allow the mounting screw for the brass plate to go through the plastic.

21 Brass plate+plug mounted

The meter is now ready to be wired with a neon bulb. Unfortunately I did not have any neon bulbs in stock so I ordered some along with a small 125VAC toggle switch that will also be mounted on the light. Got these from Digikey an electronic parts supplier.These should be here Monday so until then I cannot complete the night light.


This is the switch and neon bulb I purchased from Digikey. The bulb also needed a 33K ohm 1/4 watt resistor wired in series with it in order to get the proper voltage to the bulb. The bulb runs on about 90VAC.

The housing was drilled and milled on one side to accept the toggle switch and retaining screw.

25-switch mounted

Here the switch is mounted.

26 one neon bulb

The leads for the neon bulb were inserted through existing holes.

27 soldering

Everything was soldered together.

28 neon test

Then the light and switch were tested.

29 face plate

The face was put back on.

31 lens attached

The lens cover was reattached.

When tested the brightness was too dim with just one bulb. The switch is rated for 3 amps. The current draw of the neon bulbs is so is only 1.2mA,  that’s 0.012A so the switch can handle something like 250 neon bulbs in parallel.

34 add two

So I added two more bulbs. Each with its 33k ohm drop down resistor.

35 threes a charm

Another view.

37 in the dark

One in the dark.

38 off

Finally one with the switch off.

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Microscope Desk Lamp

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I made this desk lamp over the weekend from some old parts I had around and the base off of a vintage microscope.

3-cloth lamp


The following is a brief description of how I put the lamp together.

Microscope Base 1

Microscope base 2

This project started as a mistake. I bought this microscope base on eBay in order to repair an antique microscope I had purchased. The microscope I wanted to repair had a broken base. When I saw the base on eBay I bought it as it looked exactly the same as the one I needed. Unfortunately it was about 30% larger.

Vintage Hand Light 1


I decided the weight of the base would make a great stand for a desk lamp. I had this vintage hand lamp I had purchased several years ago and it had this cool look to it.

Mount to Base Plan

The idea here was to mount the lamp to the microscope base.

Vintage hand light 3

The lamp has this weird connector for some type of two way bulb, so that needed to be replaced with a standard receptacle. I also didn’t need the plastic handle. I do like the tilt adjustment attached to the handle so I wanted to use that.

Vintage Hand light disassmbled

The first thing I did was remove the rivets that held the handle to the lamp. The ring is designed to be take on and off which will come in handy later.


Porcelain Lamp base

I replaced the old connector with this porcelain fixture.

Lamp base mounting 1Lamp base mounting 2

Holes were drilled into the back of the lamp and brass screws with acorn nuts were used to mount it.

Lamp Base wiring 1Lamp Switch mounted

Wiring was straight forward using the existing holes for the cord and switch.


So the wiring worked and the lamp is on its way.

Handle removed +brass piece

The next step was to remove the plastic handles from the tilt arm of the old lamp. I used the 1/16 x 1 inch brass strip to make covers for the arm. With the existing width of the arm and a brass strip on each side the brass covered arm was 1/4 inch wide. This works out well as the microscope has a 1/4 slot where I want to mount this piece.


Brass mounted to old handle

After cutting and drilling the brass strip, two pieces were screwed to the arm. One on each side.

Microscope Slide Removed

This is the slide piece from the microscope. It has a 1/4 slot on the other side. Sorry I failed to take a picture of that.

Drilling micrscope slide and handle+brass

The brass covered arm piece was wedged into the 1/4 inch slot and three mounting holes were drilled. These went through the slide and the brass arm piece.

Brass Handle to Slide

The arm was attached to the slide piece with brass screws.


Here the slide was inserted back into the microscope base and the lamp piece reattached to the arm. I also used a brass washer and some brass wire to create stays for the cord.

Clock bezel mounts in placeBrass strips cut and drilledBending Brass Strips

Next brass strips were cut, drilled and bent to act as mounting brackets for a clock bezel I used to extend the lamp shade. These attached to the removable ring piece from the old lamp.

How bezel mounts

This is the bezel and how it will attach to the ring.

Marking Bezel for Drilling

First I had to mark and drill the bezel for mounting at three equidistant locations.

Bezel mounted 1

So this is the bezel mounted to the ring. I still needed to provide a shade piece for the gap between the ring and the bezel.

Plastic for Screen

For this I used this strip of plastic.

Plastic Shade

It was cut, drilled and screwed for mounting.

Lamp Bezel Cleaned

I then removed all the old paint that was flaking off of the bezel.

Felt Pads

I added stick on felt pads to the bottom of the base.

Microscope Lamp 1

After attaching the plastic shade to the bezel with screws, the bezel was reattached to the ring. The ring piece can be twisted on and off the lamp head for easy access to the bulb.


The reason I liked the lamp arm is that it has three click in positions for adjusting the lamp angle. The microscope bends back and forth as well making for lots of adjust ability.


With the light on.

Microscope Lamp 4

So that was my weekend project. The lamp works really well and the solid heavy microscope base makes it very stable.


I didn’t like the vinyl coated lamp cord I used for this piece. It was too short and didn’t fit the vintage look of the lamp.

1- Cloth Wire

I bought some cloth covered reproduction electrical cord from Industrial Rewind an Amazon retailer.

4- cloth close up

I removed the old cord and replaced it with the cloth covered.

3-cloth lamp

2-Cloth Lit

I like the cloth cord look much better.

Antique Microscope

I did wind up getting the correct base to repair the antique microscope. Here are a few pictures of the repair and restoration

Broken MicroscopeBroken Base

Microscope with broken base.

Microscope replacement base 2Microscope replacement base 1

Antique microscope part that I used for the new base.

Machining replacement base

Machining the replacement base to fit the broken microscope.

New base fit to microscope 1New base fit to microscope 2

Replacement base attached to disassembled microscope.

Completed microscope restoration 2

Completed microscope restoration. Cleaned up the parts and repainted the base.

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The complete Orrery. (6/9/18)

What follows is a chronicle I made during the design and construction of the Orrery. It’s fairly long, but would be pretty helpful to anyone else who might like to make one.


A couple of months ago I bought a box of large brass gears on eBay. The box I received contains around 60 gears of various sizes. The picture below is just a portion of what I now have. The gears in the picture are all of the 32 DP variety.


Looking around for a new project I thought it would be fun to build an Orrery solar system model. An Orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system. Using gears it will rotate the planets through there orbits at the relative rates seen in astronomical observation. The image below is a picture of a typical Orrey.

copernican orrery

My plan is to use my box of gears to build the device. I will be building a Coppernican Orrey. This contains the six planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.  Uranus and Neptune as well as Pluto are left out. The Model will also include the Sun at the center and Earths moon. I am hoping to be able to use various combinations of the gears I have in order to get the orbital times correct.

So far I’ve looked at some of the things others have done in making Orreries, but my plan is to come up with my own design. I’ve done some research and have checked and verified some pertinent facts about the solar system.

Solar System Facts1

I will use this chart not only to calculate the ratios of gears I will need to get the orbital times correct for each planet, but also the relative sizes and distances from the sun. There are two rotation ratios on my table. The first column is relative to Mercury the fastest moving planet. The second column is relative to the Earth. So when Mercury goes the sun once, one Mercurial year, the Earth will  only move around the sun about a quarter of the way.


This week I’ve been working on the base design and figuring out what ratios of gears to use. The figure below is the basic concept.

Orrery Gear box set upThere will be a series of brass tubes slid inside one another that can rotate independently around a central axis. There will be one tube for each planet. Two tubes for Earth more on that later. A solid rod will  support the Sun. In this diagram I’ve simplified things to just Venus and Mercury but the rest of the planets will be similar.       Mercury will be driven directly by turning Gear B. This will most likely be a worm gear driven by a motor, but I haven’t decided on a drive mechanism yet. By driving Mercury directly I eliminate the need to come up with gear combinations for this planet. When Gear B is turned it rotates Gear A which rotates the shaft attached to Mercury making it orbit the Sun. Gear B is mounted on the same shaft as Gear C so it will turn at the same rate. Gear C drives Gear D which is attached to the shaft for Venus. By choosing gears A, B, C, D at the correct ratios the relative rotation rates between the planets can be adjusted to the proper speeds. For Venus and Mercury the overall ratio in rotation is 2.55. That is for every one orbit of Venus, Mercury will orbit 2.55 times.

Planet tubesTubes slide together

The pictures above are the brass tubes that will be used for each planet. There sizes are 1/8, 5/32, 3/16, 7/32, 1/4, 9/32 and 5/16 inches.

Not only can outer planets be driven by the inner Mercury tube, but as we go out the planets can be driven by the tube for any planet closer to the Sun than it is. So Saturn can have Gear A for it driven by any of the other planets shafts. This is handy because as we move outward more and more gear combinations will become available. This is important because I have a limited number of gears and I don’t want to make/buy more if I can help it.

Planet ratios

With that in mind the table above was calculated showing the rotations of all the planets relative to one another. For example the first column, labelled “Mercury” are the rotations of the planets relative to Mercury. Each other column is similar.

So now to figure gear ratios for each of the planets. The first thing I did was count the number of teeth on each gear I have. This took a while. I have large sets of 15 tooth per inch (TPI) gears and 10TPI. The table below is the gears as I counted for each one (twice).

Gear teeth

In order for the system to work properly the total number of teeth in Gears A plus B must be equal to the total number in Gears C plus D. This will ensure the planet tube will remain parallel to the outer shaft in the figure above. For each planet I can use either 10TPI or 15TPI gears for the four gears, but I cannot mix 10TPI with 15TPI or my teeth won’t mesh and my shafts will not remain parallel.

So I came up with an Excel spread sheet that will help me with these calculations. I use the “solver” function in Excel and enter gears A and B and Excel calculates gears C and D based on the required ratio and keeping the number of teeth in A+B equal to that in C+D. Even with Excel this is a tedious process. If I were a better programmer I could probably make a spread sheet to do the whole thing automatically, but alas I’m stuck doing things more slowly. The table below are the gear combinations I’ve come up with so far.

Plane Gear ratios

So I’ve got a bunch done, but many more to go. When this list is complete I will hopefully have enough gears to meet the requirements. If not I’ll have to make or find them somewhere else.


Well I have finally completed all the calculations for the gears I have in my collection. The two sets of gears I have are actually 48 DP (Diametral Pitch) for what I was calling the 15TPI and 32 DP for what I called the 10TPI. I know this now because the gears I am using are still made, even though they look old, by Boston Gear and use the same part numbers. So instead of counting all the gear teeth on each gear I could of just looked them up here.

Oh well live and learn, in this case I’m learning a lot about gears. Below is the list of all possible combinations of gears that I have that will work for each planet that I generating using Excel.

All possible Orrery Gear Ratios

I then went through and selected a few promising combinations, one of which is below.

Orrery Gear sets

Each one selected uses just the gears I have enough for when I combine them. I also tried to keep the error level to less than 1%. In most cases I was able to have 0-0.5%. Good news is I won’t have to fabricate any gears. In case you cannot see it above, I’ve pretty much settled on the combination of gears below.

Orrery Gear sets2

This portion of the project took quite a while. Things will get more interesting now even though the pace will be slow. I need to complete the design for the overall gear box and then start construction. All of the gears have different bore sizes so I’ll be making a lot of bushings in some cases and boring them out further in others.


When I went to collect the gears together for all of the planets as shown above I ran into a problem. The 60 tooth 32DP gears used as gear C for earth was not the proper size for making the four gears A, B, C, and D line up  when Orrery was assembled. The rest of the gears I was going to use were all manufactured by Boston Gear. The 60 tooth was an odd gear I had found in the box of gears in my collection. The distance between centers when gears C and D were meshed together was about 1/64th of an inch shorter than the distance between centers for gears A and B. I went back into my list of gear combinations and came up with a new set of gears.

Orrery Gears Final

So this is my final set of gears. I’ve managed to keep all of the orbits within 1% of the actual values. This is when all gears are considered, remembering that some planets are running off of other planets with their own gears and errors.

Orrery Gears Venus

Above are the gear sets for Venus.

Orrery Geras Earth

Above are the gear sets for Earth

Orrery Gears Mars

Above are the gear sets for Mars.

Orrery Gears Jupiter

Above are the gear sets for Jupiter.

Orrery Gears Saturn

Above are the gear sets for Saturn.

Orrery Gears Moon

Above are the gear sets for the Moon.

Just a note on how the moon is made to go around the Earth. The large gear above gets mounted onto a tube that is fixed and does not rotate. This tube is the one just outside the rotating shaft/tube for Earth. The stationary tube that is outside rotating tube for planet Earth is the same radius as the hub for large fixed gear (192 teeth 3 inch radius). A  shaft with a small gear  (16 teeth) is mounted vertically through the Earth so that the teeth will mesh with the large gear. This small gear will be rotated by the movement of the Earth around the Sun. If a moon is attached to an “L” shaped bracket attached to this gear it will rotate around the Earth 192/16=12 times for every time the Earth goes around the Sun. This is pretty close to the approximately 13 times the Moon actually orbits the Earth in a year.

Orrery Moon Gear Setup

This idea I found on here.   MatthewS3 was making an Orrery from plywood gears and used this technique for the orbit of the moon.

The next step is to make some detailed measurements of each gear set and draft together a more detailed design for the Orrery than the one in my head. Once that is completed the hole in each gear will need to be adjusted the the diameter of the tube or shaft it will be mounted too. In some cases I will be making bushings, in others the holes will need to be made larger.


So I’ve been working on even more calculations and design. It seems like I’ll never get down into the work shop, but with all of the pieces that need to come together the design part was particularly important for this project.Orrery Gear Measurements

Above are the measurements for all of the gears that I will be using. The gear diameters and radius are the most important information here and are highlighted in yellow. This information was used to design a layout for all of the gears. This allowed me to see how many individual sections/levels I would require for the complete gear train. The rod/tube diameters are the second most important information. These are the hole diameters that each gear will require in their hubs in order to mount to the tubes and rods required. The tubes are highlighted in green with the rods left white in the same column. The tubes will nest inside one another in one central shaft area. The rods will be placed parallel to the main shaft and will hold the gears A and C for each planet in the diagram above. Each planet will have it’s own outside rod.

Orrery Gears Final

I used the gear diameters in the table  combined with the final gear combinations above (also in my post of 3/11/18) to design a 3D model of the gear train.  I used Sketchup for the design. This took a while because I had to learn to use it first. I had drafting in high school, but we used drafting tables, triangles and pencils. At first I was going to us Sketchup as a 2D electronic drafting table. After working with it, however, it seemed that with the way it was designed it was easier to do the 3D model. I’m no expert yet, but I was able to get a pretty good 3D layout developed after working with Sketchup for a few hours. Below are some captured images of the 3D gear layout.

Orrery Gear Layout 4

Angled view of all of the gears. A couple are hidden under other gears.

Orrery Gear Layout 6

Another angled view where the gear designations are a bit more evident.

Orrery Gear Layout 5

In this side view all of the gears can be seen. It looks like I will be using five levels. The first level will house all of the gears A, B, C and D for Venus and A and B for Jupiter. The second layer will hold gears A, B, C and D for earth and gears A and B for Mars. The top plate for this level will have the stationary tube attached to it that will support the 192 tooth gear used to rotate the Moon around the earth as described earlier. The Third layer will contain only gears C and D for Mars. The fourth, gears C and D for Jupiter. and The fifth level the A, B, C and D gears for Saturn. The sixth plate is the top plate holding the main shaft and the rods for Saturn in place. At least that’s the plan for now. As there are always problems in a first prototype like this I expect some tweaks along the way.

Orrery Drive Train layers

My next step will be boring out gears where the hub holes are too small, making sleeves for the holes that are too large, and adding set screws where needed. Some gears have no hubs so they will be fabricated from scratch.


Over the past week I spent a lot of time working on the gear hub hole sizes. Each gear needed a specific hole size to fit a specific shaft. Almost all of them needed set screws added to the hubs. I took a lot of pictures and had to adjust about 22 gears to the right size.

Orrery flipping hub 1

This gear had a hub that was too small so a new hub was created and the smaller one was removed. In this picture a brass rod is being bored to the same size hole currently in the gear.

Orrery flipping hub 3

After boring the brass was machined flat and then cut to length on the lathe.

Orrery flipping hub 4

The new hub is seen here sitting on top of the gear it will be added too.

Orrery flipping hub 5Orrery-flipping-hub-6.jpg

Before attaching to the gear the hub was drilled and tapped so it would accept 6-40 set screws when done. I am making two set screws per hub. This will help keep the gear from shifting sideways when the set screw is tightened.

Orrery flipping hub 7Orrery flipping hub 8

The the surface of the gear was lightly sanded. Flux was coated onto the mating surfaces of the hub and gear. The hub was centered onto the gear and held temporarily in place using a 1/4 inch screw with washers and a bolt. Finally the gear/hub combination was heated with the torch and solder was applied.

Orrery flipping hub 9

The gear with the new hub attached. The old hub remains in place at this point.

Orrery flipping hub 91

The gear was chucked up in the lathe and the old hub was machined off of the surface. The hole was then bored out to the proper diameter on the lathe.

Orrery flipping hub 93

The completed gear before boring the hole to the proper size.

Orrery flipping hub 94

After boring the “new” gear was temporarily attached to the shaft with the set screws in place in order to check the fit.

Orrery Gear Sleave 1

For this gear the hole was too large so a brass sleeve was turned on the lathe. First the outside dimension was turned to the correct diameter.

Orrery Gear Sleave 2

Then the center of the sleeve was bored to the proper size.

Orrery Gear Sleave 3

Then the sleeve was fit into the existing gear hole. Finally the hub would be drilled and tapped in order to accept set screws.

All an all I had to make adjustments to 22 gears. Four for each of the planets; Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, and then two for the Earth/Moon combination as described above.

Venus Orrery gears

Completed gears for Venus.

Earth Orrery Gears

Completed gears for Earth.

Mars Orrery Gears

Completed gears for Mars.

Jupiter Orrery Gears

Completed gears for Jupiter.

Saturn Orrery Gears

Completed gears for Saturn.

Moon Orrery Gears

Completed gears for the Moon.

After I had the hubs completed I had enough information to continue on with the design in more detail using SketchUp.

Orrery Gear Box Hubs Shafts 3

This is the 3D model with all of the gears adjusted to the correct thickness with hubs attached. The various shaft sizes are correct also.

Orrery Gear Box Hubs Shafts 2D 4

This is a 2D version of the same design. Next I’ll need to start cutting each shaft to the correct length and from the correct tube or bar stock.


I was able to start working on the Orrery mechanism this week. The first step was to cut each of the brass tubes to the correct length based on the design above.

Orrey Tube 2

This picture shows all the tubes inserted into the respective gears and then slid into one another.

Orrery Tubes 1

This close up shows how the tubes are nested inside one another.

Brass plates that were 6 x 12 inches originally were cut to the correct dimensions. The bottom two plates were cut to 6 x 7.5 inches. The top four are 6 x 5.875. Thicknesses varied from 0.0625″ to 0.03125″.

Orrery Plates

After cutting to size the corners of each plate were drilled 1/4 inch from each edge to create mounting holes. Here the smaller plates have been screwed together through the holes. This is for drilling the main gear shaft. By drilling all the plates at once it can be assured that the holes will line up from one layer to the next.

Orrery Gear Placement 1Orrery Gear Placement 2

The gears were placed on top of the plates in order to determine exactly where to drill each side gear shaft.

Orrery Plates Drilled 1Orrery Plates Drilled 2

Here the plates were set over the first layer gear to check fit. The height of the support rods for this layer could also be verified/adjusted. I wound up adjusting the support rod length of this layer to 1.75 inches. These are 1/4 inch brass rods cut to length and then threaded on each end to accept 6-32 screws.

Orrery First Layer complete 2

Here the two plates are screwed together.

Orrery First Layer complete 1

Another view. This layer contains the tubes for Mercury and Venus. The side shaft for the Venus drive gears C and D are visible in the front right. The long shaft rising up the the rear right is the drive shaft for Jupiter. This runs off of the Venus shaft, so gears A and B for Jupiter are also found in this first layer.

Orrery First layer + next gears

In this view the gears for Earth and Mars have been set in place in preparation for drilling the plate that are part of the first layer. The next plate will also require drilling for all these tubes and rods.


Today I made quite a bit of progress with the remaining gear levels.

Orrery Gears open

First I had to drill holes for the gears on the next level that contains all the gears for Earth as well as gears A and B for Mars. This is a picture of the gears in the bottom level with the top plate removed.

Orrery Earth Mars Level

After drilling the gear holes the next plate was set in place to make sure everything lines up. Of course it did.. Thanks Sketchup.

Orrery support posts Earth-Mars

Next I made the support posts for the Earth/Mars level top plate.

Orrery secnd level complete

This level is now complete. Gears C and D for Mars could also be attached.

Orrery second level complete side

A side view better showing the internal gears.

Orrery Mars Jupiter levels side

The Top plate for the Mars level was completed and gears C and D for Jupiter could be attached.

Orrery Jupiter Saturn level set up

The base plate for the next level is set in place for measuring the post height for this plate.

Orrey Saturn level gear setup

The Saturn Gears are seen here temporarily set in place.

Orrery mechanism Saturn levelThis is where I am as of today. The top plate has been set in place. I still need to make the support posts for this level and drill the holes for the Saturn A and C gears. The Shaft for these gears also needs to be made. When that is done the drive mechanism for the Orrery will be complete. Then I’ll move on to cleaning things up and making a base. The planets will need to be made as well as the rods that support them.


During the week I finished attaching the top plate to the Orrery. Here are some pictures of the unit at that point.

Orrery Last level added 1

Orrery last level added 3Orrery Last level added 2

This weekend I worked on cleaning up the mechanism and adding spacers and washers to the shafts that needed them. I also adjusted the lengths of the tubes that weren’t quite the correct length. I then spent some time motorizing the unit.

Clock motor for Orrery

I went through my box of old motors (yes I have a box of old motors) and found this 120VAC clock motor. I like the idea of using a clock motor as they are fairly quiet and turns at a very low speed with a lot of strength. They are also designed to be run continuously if I were to want to just leave the Orrery running.

Orrery motor location

This is the location where I decided to add the motor. In this location I can add a shaft to the motor with a gear and drive Mercury directly by impinging my drive gear onto Venus gear A.

Orrery Clock motor hole drilled

A 1/4 inch hole was drilled into the top and bottom plate so the shaft would be supported by the plates.

Orrery clock drive gear

A 1/4 inch shaft was cut that could be slid through the holes and hold the gear in place. The gear also has a 1/4 inch hole.

Orrery drive gear and shaft

A hole was bored down the center of the shaft and set screws were also added. Set screws were also added to the hub of the drive gear.

Orrery clock motor mounted

The motor and shaft in there final location. All that is left is to drill some holes for the mounting screws. These will go through the holes seen on the mounting brackets that are part of the motor.

Orrery wood base

Before I put everything back together I started on the wood base. I needed the bottom brass plate to get the correct hole locations so I thought I would do that while the Orrery was disassembled.

Orrery wood base attached 1

A close up of the wood base temporarily attached. You can also see one of the screws holding the motor in place by the mounting bracket.