Friday, October 6, 2017

Safe Iron Pipe Lamps Fittings

This post is a bit of a plug but mostly a plea to would be electrical DIYers not to take chances.  If you have a mind to make some sort of lamp using iron pipe then you must be aware that the pipe itself becomes a potential hazard - iron pipe - conductive.  Make a little mistake in your wiring and the pipe will become live.  You're smart, you know what that means.  Peoples hair only smokes in cartoons, in real life... well, it ain't real anymore.

The scariest, and most commonly seen failure people make is not protecting the cable where it comes out of the lamp fitting and goes into the pipe.  Because there is no (till now, see later) good way to make the mechanical transition between the little (usually 1/4") thread used on most fittings and the bigger threads used on iron pipe, it's common to see the joint fudged with electrical tape or whittled wood or large amounts of glue.  These are not good enough.  Over time any of these can wear and move and potentially allow the cable to rub against the edges of the pipe, ultimately resulting in the cable fraying and the inner wires touching the pipe.

So, what to do?  This was my favorite solution for a long time:

Take a pipe plug of the same gauge as you need to match.  Grind off the top and drill a 1/4" hole through the middle (the inside of the plug is usually hollow so it's pretty easy).  Now thread a 1/4" lamp thread nipple and secure with a nut.  A standard lamp fitting will screw right on making a very strong and secure joint.  And the cable runs up through the pipe and and into the lamp fitting avoiding any risk of the cable being damaged.

But I got annoyed with having to all this grinding and drilling so I came up with this:

It's a precision machined, solid brass adaptor and it solves all those lamp fittings issues.  It can be used in two ways, depending which way round you screw the lamp fitting to it.  In one way the neck of the fitting protrudes and in the other it is recessed into the adaptor making for a cleaner, flush joint.

Want one?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Wood Sizes - Q. When is a 2x4 not a 2x4?

A. All the time in the USA

Have you ever got upset if you get home after a morning shopping in Home Depot (or any other hardware store), only to discover that the wood you bought is not what you thought?  The dimensions marked are NOMINAL.  Their actual dimensions can vary.  They are always less and usually about the values in the following tables.  Why?, because NIST (National Institute of Standards) says so.  It probably came about because lumber was originally sized by it's rough sawn dimensions (straight from the mill), but then for most applications it needed to be straightened and smoothed (called dressing).  Obviously that lost a bit and NIST stepped in to define how much it was allowed to be reduced and still be called a 2x4.

You can study the following tables and commit it to heart.  Or you can download the definitive doc. But honestly there is a much easier way.  For MOST lumber just:

Subtract 1/4" for anything 1" nominal,Subtract 1/2" from any dimension over 1" but under 8"Subtract 3/4" for anything 8" nominal and over.

Softwood Lumber Dimensions
1 x 2
3/4 x 1 1/2
19 x 38
1 x 3
3/4 x 2 1/2
19 x 64
1 x 4
3/4 x 3 1/2
19 x 89
1 x 6
3/4 x 5 1/2
19 x 140
1 x 8
3/4 x 7 1/4
19 x 184
1 x 10
3/4 x 9 1/4
19 x 235
1 x 12
3/4 x 11 1/4
19 x 286
2 x 2
1 1/2 x 1 1/2
38 x 38
2 x 3
1 1/2 x 2 1/2
38 x 64
2 x 4
1 1/2 x 3 1/2
38 x 89
2 x 6
1 1/2 x 5 1/2
38 x 140
2 x 8
1 1/2 x 7 1/4
38 x 184
2 x 10
1 1/2 x 9 1/4
38 x 235
2 x 12
1 1/2 x 11 1/4
38 x 286
3 x 3
2 1/2 x 2 1/2
64 x 64
3 x 4
2 1/2 x 3 1/2
64 x 89
3 x 6
2 1/2 x 5 1/2
64 x 140
3 x 8
2 1/2 x 7 1/4
64 x 184
3 x 10
2 1/2 x 9 1/4
64 x 235
3 x 12
2 1/2 x 11 1/4
64 x 286
4 x 4
3 1/2 x 3 1/2
89 x 89
4 x 6
3 1/2 x 5 1/2
89 x 140
4 x 8
3 1/2 x 7 1/4
89 x 184
4 x 10
3 1/2 x 9 1/4
89 x 235
4 x 12
3 1/2 x 11 1/4
89 x 286
6 x 6
5 1/2 x 5 1/2
140 x 140
8 x 8
7 1/4 x 7 1/4
184 x 184

6 feet
72 inches
1.829 meters
8 feet
96 inches
2.438 meters
10 feet
120 inches
3.048 meters
12 feet
144 inches
3.658 meters
14 feet
168 inches
4.267 meters
16 feet
192 inches
4.877 meters
18 feet
216 inches
5.486 meters
20 feet
240 inches
6.096 meters
22 feet
264 inches
6.706 meters
24 feet
288 inches
7.315 meters

Hardwood Lumber Dimensions
Hardwood lumber is sized based on how many sides are surfaced. Surfaced refers to a finishing process that smooths the lumber to remove all saw marks.

In North America, hardwood lumber is usually specified using the quarter system, where a board is identified by its thickness in quarters of an inch. For instance, hardwood trim that ends up being just over 1" thick (surfaced on 2 sides) is called a five-quarter (5/4) board.

Hardwood board widths vary. In most cases, hardwood boards come in random widths to be ripped to size by the woodworker. However, in some cases, like the big-box hardware stores, the boards come in dimensional widths similar to softwood widths. 


1/2 inch
3/8 inch (9.5 mm)
5/16 inch (7.9 mm)

5/8 inch
1/2 inch (13 mm)
7/16 inch (11 mm)

3/4 inch
5/8 inch (16 mm)
9/16 inch (14 mm)
4/4 inch
1 inch
7/8 inch (22 mm)
13/16 inch (21 mm)
5/4 inch
1 1/4 inch
1 1/8 inch (29 mm)
1 1/16 inch (27 mm)
6/4 inch
1 1/2 inch
1 3/8 inch (35 mm)
1 5/16 inch (33 mm)
8/4 inch
2 inches
1 13/16 inch (46 mm)
1 3/4 inch (44 mm)
12/4 inch
3 inches
2 13/16 inch (71 mm)
2 3/4 inch (70 mm)
16/4 inch
4 inches
3 13/16 inch (97 mm)
3 3/4 inch (95 mm)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Holly's Closetless Closet Organizer

Holly is renovating a gorgeous old house in the old part of Salt Lake. And she's put one of our closet organizers in an alcove so that it doesn't block the window. Great idea.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Look What Perry Found in a Cupboard!

Perry found some wooden shelves in an old dark cupboard, glued them together and made THIS:

Did anybody notice the Blackfriars Ironworks pipe legs?  Didn't think so.  Way to go Perry ;)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Tanner's Kicthen Island/Dining Table

Tanner just sent these pics of his kitchen island/dining table. He's pretty happy and I'm stoked too. I think it looks great amongst all that black and dark wood. The casters added to the cost but it was still a fraction of what a store bought product would have been and he got to customize exactly to his requirements. Really nice work Tanner!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Carlyn D's Coffee Table

Love the wood finish Carlyn put on this Locker Kit Coffee Table. She says it's pre-stain wood conditioner, minwax stain, and then varathane triple thick poly to finish it off.

Mike R's Sofa Table

Mike is an architect so it's no surprise that his design was going to be a bit 'different'. Nothing wrong with that, I think it turned out brilliantly.  And the live edge top is superb.

Monday, May 15, 2017

How to Adjust the Height (Width, Length) of Pipe Projects

Probably the most common problem when making anything out of iron pipe and fittings is getting the desired length.  Runner up to that problem is how to make the fittings point in the right direction when you assembled them on to a pipe and tightened them up.

The answer to both is a simple and cheap trick - electrical tape.

Black Electrical Tape, just a couple of turns will do.  Add more or less to make it perfect.
But first a little explanation:  In most cases you want to tighten the pipe into the fitting tightly to make sure of a rigid joint.  But that also means that the pipe may screw in too far, not enough, or the fitting may not end up in the position you need.  But, because plumbing pipe uses a tapered thread (it's a smaller diameter at the end than at the base) it's possible to pack the joint with tape which pushes the pipe out a little bit.  Then, depending on how much tape you put on, you can adjust the point at which the joint tightens.

Now, if you have any familiarity with plumbing you are probably thinking PTFE tape.  But, that actually doesn't work very well in this application.  The ideal stuff is black (because your pipe is black) electrical tape.  Usually a couple of turns of electrical tape on the thread will give you a little extra adjustment room.  Add more or less if it's not quite right.  You'll also find that because of the nature of the tape, it's much easier to adjust the exact rotation of the fittings while still having a solid joint.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Friday, April 7, 2017

Industrial, Craftsman Tech?

Bill put this lovely and very sturdy desk together for the office in his craftman home.

Black is the New Black

Patrick in Florida sent us this pic of his fine coffee table, proving that black is ALWAYS in!

Ascent Studio

Brandon at Ascent Studio, a climbing and fitness studio in Fort Collins, Colorado made this brilliant sign-in station out of some left over baltic birch and our ready to go pipe.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

David K's Custom Locker Table

This one went to Hawaii.  David made a brilliant job of his custom table.  The black pipe looks great against a light coloured carpet and the wood brings a touch of warmth.