Introduction: Steampunk Candle

Finally, I'm posting another instructable! Life has a funny way of keeping us from doing things.

This instructable details how to make a "Steampunk Candle" similar to the one I have made here. When sitting on your desk, nightstand, or dashboard of your airship, it will remain off. As soon as you pick it up, the light comes on for all of your illuminating needs. Obviously, the light could be modified to stay on/off as desired.

Step 1: Gathering Parts

As with most steampunk designs, or any found-object art, your supply list can vary wildly.

For this, your most important visual components are the base, stem, and light housing.

Base: Small wooden plaque (available from craft stores), and the base of a doorknob (available from... umm... your doors)

Stem: Part of a brass candlestick (you can find these at almost any thrift shop). They usually unscrew into 2 or 3 pieces. Just use the pieces you like.

Light Housing: For my candle, I used an amber colored pill bottle with a wire mesh around it. Pill bottles are easy, but you may have to be more inventive for the wire mesh. Mine came from someone's gutters after a tornado (we have quite a few tornadoes here in Texas).

Here's a quick overview of other things you'll need (optional items will be covered in individual steps):

~ A light. I used a replacement bulb for a mini-maglite, but you may want an LED (or several).

~ Wires. Gauge isn't particularly important, but you'll want something thin enough to fit through all your parts.

~ A lever switch. Available at tech supply stores. I used this same setup in my last instructable.

~ A battery housing. Also available at tech supply stores.

~ Epoxy.

~ Wood Stain (possibly with a sealer in it).

~ Batteries (duh)

The rest of your parts list will look something like the assemblage of parts I have in the last picture.

Step 2: Starting With the Base-ics (puuuuun).

I routed out a place for my battery holder in the bottom of the base. This can be rendered unnecessary if you use smaller batteries and/or have space between the wooden & metal parts of your base.

The other hole you see was drilled, and carved a bit, to accommodate the handle, which I screwed in from the bottom. This involved drilling and tapping, but honestly... epoxy should be plenty strong enough if you want to go that route. The handle was made from part of a coat hook.*

Next, you'll see how I stained the base. Any color you like is fine, but I opted for a mixture of dark walnut and antique cherry (experiment on some scrap wood). These bases you get from craft stores are cheap, soft wood; so, you'll want a wood conditioner prior to staining, or you can burnish the wood (that's what I did). You can burnish the wood by rubbing it all over with the back of a metal spoon. The surface will become more glossy and will be much more dense/durable.

Lastly, I cut out a piece of heavy leather for the bottom, using the wooden base as a template. Then, I cut out a hole for the battery holder and switch**. I actually used the same wood stain I used earlier. It works fine on leather, but you might be happier going with a leather dye.

* Be careful cleaning/polishing random metal bits. They may look like copper and brass on the outside, but oft-times they're not.

** You'll notice that I bent the metal portion of the switch out a bit so it would extend past the leather on the bottom.

Step 3: Moving on Up.

Before we really jump into the stem portion, I'd like to remind you to drill a small hole through the base for the wires leading from the batteries/switch*.

I found a washer that fit neatly over the hole of our door knob base (this is actually called the rose), and soldered a nut onto it. That gave me something to screw the brass candle stem into. You remember me saying that all those old brass candlesticks come apart, right? You can use the holes in the door knob rose and some wood screws to screw it into the base. I kinda wish I'd found some screws that looked a bit more old-fashioned (maybe I still will).

Then, I drilled a hole up through the stem for our wires. I epoxied a nut inside the cup of the candlestick to screw in this bit of pipe. The pipe will keep our light in place and serve as something for our light housing to screw onto. Depending on the shape of your candlestick, this may be unnecessary.

In the last two pictures, you'll see my assembly for another steampunk candle that uses old lamp parts and doesn't need to be drilled (just offering ideas).

*The wiring for this is something that I assume you learned in your grade school science class. If you need a quick overview, one wire goes from the battery holder to the switch, and from the switch to the light. The other can head straight to the light. If you're using LEDs, I like this website for planning the circuit.

Step 4: Illumination.

I used a mini plug that was ripped out of an old VCR to plug the mini-maglite bulb into. This should work for LEDs as well, just pay attention to your positive/negative. I attached it to the rest of my wiring by twisting and using shrink tubing (available at tech supply shops), but someone more professional than I might solder it. It doesn't really matter, just make sure that no part of your circuit is touching the brass candlestick, or it might not work right*.

Once your wiring is complete, pull the wires back down until your light is sitting at an appropriate height. You can then secure it there with some hot glue (available at craft stores).

Optional: You can glue a small mirror into the top of your light housing (facing the light, of course). Little things like this help you use light efficiently and provide more illumination. Any craft store should have the mirrors.

* I actually had one design set up so that touching the brass portion of the candlestick completed the circuit and it lit up. That can be a bit more tricky, and I opted against it because of its finicky nature. Still, it's something you can play with.

Step 5: Light House-ing (heh... Punny)

The first step here is to make the bottom of our housing. I used a large washer, two small washers, and a nut to get the proper spacing when screwed onto the stem assembly. I forgot to take a picture including the nut prior to assembly, so hopefully my post-assembly pic shows you where everything goes.

Modifying the pill bottle is easy. Cut off the parts you don't want, then "frost" it. You can do this by attacking it with some fine grit sandpaper, or do what I did and throw it in a tumbler with corn cob media for a couple hours. If you're using a wire cage similar to mine, save the bottom of the pill bottle lid (you'll actually need two) to cover up the raw edges. It makes it look more neat.

Now, the wire cage. I wrapped the mesh around a cylinder a bit larger in diameter than my pill bottle, then epoxied the edges together. I tried soldering, but the results were unsatisfactory.... besides, epoxying is easier (lazy points!!!).

Cap it all off with a large washer the same size as the one you used on the bottom of your light housing (unless you have some nifty conical design... go crazy).

Play with how everything fits together, then glue it up. That's right, you're using epoxy for all of this. However, there's a lot of ways you can do cold connections for this (riveting, tap/die, etc). Experiment.

Topping it all off... literally. I used a small brass bell, some sort of lock washer for pipe fittings (not sure what it's called, but it looks like a gear), and a big chunky stud used on clothing (think goth).

The last pic is the finished product. I hope you enjoyed the instructable!!!

Here's a video of the Steampunk Candle in action!

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