Steampunk Lamp
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What's Steampunk?

I have always been a Science Fiction fan. From comics to books and movies, I took it all in. I grew up watching great Sci-Fi movie classics such as The Time Machine and First Men in the Moon both based on books by H.G. Wells. I also enjoyed Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea based on Jules Vern novels. What I didn't know all these years is that there was a common thread. The film versions were all set in the late 1800's Victorian period and they used 1800's technology to create their vision of the future. They created machines and gadgets not possible at that time, using what they had for technology. Electricity was in its infancy so it was used sparingly, but when they had a light or indicator lamp, it was big and bold. There were pipes and steam valves everywhere. Large gauges were a necessity to keep watch on the steam pressure.

Where today we would have chrome, they had brass. Switches and panels were also made of brass giving them the "Victorian" look. Vintage Edison Light Bulbs were protected from damage with wire cages providing them with an 1800's industrial lighting feel. The British setting of these movies also added to the look and feel. There were ornate patterns on the machines panels or supports.

steampunk keyboard About 10 years ago I came across a picture of a computer keyboard that had been created to look as if it was made during this 1800's Victorian period. I loved it. The creator went on to build a steampunk laptop as well. They were works of art. What I didn't know at the time, but found out shortly after, was that the style had been dubbed "Steampunk". More recently "Industrial Style" Pipe Furniture has also become popular. I just think of it as Modern Steampunk. Now I understand where the "Steam" in Steampunk comes from, but I'm not so sure where the "Punk" comes from.


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Build a "Steampunk" Lamp - Part 1

steampunk lamp 3 sm Steampunk Lamp Assembled

Welcome to my How-To article for building a Steampunk Lamp. This was my first lamp and it taught me many things. Give it a read and see if it’s something that you think you might want to give a try. If you have any questions, send me an email using the link above.
I'm a hands-on guy and like making things. After seeing several cool looking Steampunk style lamps on eBay, I decided "I could do that". That statement can get me in trouble sometimes, but none-the-less, usually works out. I scoured eBay looking for various "steampunky" looking items like steam pressure gauges, water control valves and the like. I could identify several of the exact parts used in the original eBay auction lamps.

For items that I couldn't find on eBay, I searched the rest of the web. To my surprise, many parts were available on Amazon including the Metal Cage Bulb Guards. To the left is my final creation. On the right, you'll find a detailed diagram showing you all the parts needed to complete this great Steampunk Lamp Project. you can click on it for a much larger picture. One more note. You'd think making a lamp from readily available black pipe would be cheap. It is not. You'll be surprised at how quickly the 90-deg. elbow, nipples and straight sections add up. Just buy more than you think you'll need and take back what's left over.

Steampunk Pressure GaugeThe art of making a Steampunk style lamp is quite simple. Think Victorian Industrial Lighting. The first thing I noticed about old pressure gauges is that some have very plain pointers while others had very ornate ones. The arrow on the end of the pointer could be just a point or it could have some flourish to it, like the head of an actual arrow. The designs of the tail were ever more extreme. The older the gauge, the more fancy the pointers seemed. The old saying "They don't make them like the used to" came to mind.

I placed bids on several and won an auction for an old pressure gauge made by the "Nash Engineering Company" It was about 5 inches across and the point had a circle incorporated into it. The tail was a crescent moon. Very cool looking. What was even neater was the water stain across the front. The brass bezel was worn and pitted, but that just added to the look and feel I was going for.

Gears used to buil my Steampunk lampNext I needed gears. If I could find a few gears big enough, they would make up the base of the lamp. Now here's the problem with making a Steampunk anything. People are catching on to the style and everything old on ebay is being labeled Steampunk.

That of course increases the perceived value and drives the bidding up, great for the seller, but not so great for us makers. So finding gears large enough to use as a base, but still cost effective (including shipping) turned into a challenge.

I settled for a box of 8 assorted gears that I believe came off of a tractor, as one was painted John Deere green. They were a little smaller than I wanted but I had other ideas for the base. After all, this lamp was going to be heavy and will be needing extra support. One of the gears was taller than the rest and would make a great transition from the bottom gears to the black upper parts of the lamp.

Read more: Build a "Steampunk" Lamp - Part 1

A Steampunk Table Lamp for My Wife

Steampunk Table LampMy wife requested a new lamp for the bedroom. It needed to be small and needed to have a shade on it. Now I had 4 metal wall lamps in my lamp parts stash that I've been wanting to put to a good use. I purchased them at one of the big box stores. I always frequent the lamp section where they have a discount shelf or table with miscellaneous bulbs, lamps and other lighting accessories. The items are always marked down, sometimes it's a pretty good deal and sometimes it’s not. This particular time I spotted a rather large generic brown cardboard box with a single label on the side. It had a small picture of a wall sconce style lamp with a gooseneck shaped rod and a nice metal shade. It was marked down from $59 to $15 which seemed like a pretty good deal.

I whipped out my phone and looked it up on the store web site. Apparently, it was only something you could order online and it was not carried in the store. So, it must have been a return. Next, I noticed the "QTY:4" printed on a lower corner of the box. Could it be there were 4 lamps in the box? The box was sealed tight, so I didn’t want to open it in the store. Well, I took a chance and purchased it. I figured that, worst-case, I had a $59 lamp that I paid $15 for. I got out to the car and cracked open the box and sure enough there were 4 individual boxes inside each containing a complete lamp. The lamp did not seem worth the $59 retail price, and I would have been ok paying $15 for one, but I ended up with 4 for that same price. Now I had a project where I could use one.

Water Spigot Switch - SteampunkI’m also had kicking around a second water spigot switch that I had previously made. I documented that build here. Make a Steampunk Style Faucet Switch The article gives you step by step instructions for making your own water spigot switch. It is complete with assembly pictures. Be sure to check it out and let me know if you have any questions.

Read more: A Steampunk Table Lamp for My Wife