I swore that I'd never work with salt again but here I am. This is made from a block of Himalayan salt and some bloodwood. I've seen many salt lamps, but I've never seen one with more or less clean lines before. A viewer sent me a picture of his, and I have to say it piqued my interest!
The cracked effect from the salt, makes for a lamp with extreme visual interest in the day and night. And yes, I cleaned every inch of the shop up. Still there is sure to be some rusting...
Step 1: Cutting the Salt Block
Now, I suppose it should go without saying, that using salt with steel and cast iron tools is a SUPER BAD idea. You will rust your blades, surfaces and bits. Sometimes beyond repair. So, fair warning. Personally, I've done this 4 times already, so I know what I'm in for. Honestly, some of my favorite projects started as super bad ideas.
I went into my local cooking store and bought a 12" x 8" slab of salt. It's sold for grilling fish on the BBQ. They're around $30 or so in my area.
I then cut 2- 4 inch squares out on my band saw. Take this nice and slow. The salt fractures more than it cuts, and you're basically just guiding that breakage with your saw. The salt dust is intense. Protect your lungs. Wear a face mask.
Step 2: Bloodwood, the Other Red Meat.
Bloodwood is a beautiful dense hardwood that unlike many other red colored woods stays red.
While you could use a paduak or redheart wood, both will quickly fade to an auburn brown color when exposed to UV. For bloodwood this is a much slower process. Now the downside is that it is much harder to work with and harder on your tools. It sounds silly to say that considering I'm cutting salt on my band saw, but bloodwood will quickly dull steel tools.
I ripped a board down to 4" wide on my table saw, and then use my cross cut sled to make two 4" pieces to match the salt blocks.
Step 3: Drilling
Each of the 4 blocks will need to be drilled in some manner.
The two salt blocks will be drilled with a 2 5/8 bit. One will have a hole all the way through, and the second black will stop just shy of the top. (that will be the top of the lamp) I'm using a fornster bit as it tends to cut the cleanest. Stop frequently and let the pieces cool down. I took 30 mins to drill out each block. Even with all that time, I still had a crack develop. That's just part of the fun of working with salt!
After working with the salt, the bloodwood was a dream! One board was drilled with the 2 5/8" bit and the other (the bottom piece) got a 1" hole where the light would go.
Step 4: The After Math!
Drilling, cutting or applying any heat or pressure induces cracks in the salt. In my opinion that is what gives these pieces their interest! Along with that comes risk. The second block of salt I drilled cracked and broke.
There was a large crack on all four sides, but one was all the way through. So, I used some 2 part clear epoxy resin and repaired it. After it cured, you almost couldn't spot the repair. It just looks like more character. I would have preferred it not to have cracked, but it wasn't much work to fix it.
While the resin cured, I sanded the bloodwood down to 220 grit, which took almost as much time as the resin... (did I mention that I hated bloodwood?!)
Step 5: Finishing Touches
The assembly process couldn't be simpler. Glue all four blocks together with 2 part epoxy resin. Wait 24 hours for total cure time.
I then added some rubber feet to the bottom to act as standoffs. This would allow me to add a light with making a recess for the cord.
The cord was $7 at my local ACE hardware and was labeled as a replacement for a Christmas village ceramic building. It fit perfectly in the 1" hole and no other means of fastening was required!
Lastly I added 2 coats of wipe on poly on the exposed bloodwood and allowed it to dry.
Step 6: Completed
I've been using this as a bedside lamp for the last two weeks.
I love the way it looks in the daylight and lit up at night. The bulb is a 7 watt bulb and puts off very little heat. You could of course use an LED strip as a replacement, and add an IR remote. Something I might end up doing in the future...
Thanks for looking!