This is my version of a Minecraft Redstone Torch. It is made from polyester resin and redwood. The final dimensions are roughly 3" x 3" x 14" and I feel like it really gives off the blockish look of the game torch.
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Step 1: Starting With Some Redwood
I started this project with a piece of redwood that I picked up at a local salvage yard. It was supposed to be burl. I paid for burl, but it was pretty straight grained once cut.
I sliced a 10" chunk out on the band saw and squared it up at the table saw.
It is roughly 3" squared and 10" in length. This wood will serve as the lower two-thirds of the lamp/torch and the fact that it is a pretty straight grain ended up really working for this overall. I wanted some of the natural edge of the redwood exposed as I hope it would give it a cool hybrid look once cast.
Step 2: Building the Resin Form
Now I need a temporary form to hold the resin in. I like using these correlated plastic sheets. They're pretty inexpensive and do a great job of supporting the weight of the casting. I've cut them up in the past with just a straight edge and a razor, but this time I ended up ripping them to width at the table saw. SO EASY. So accurate.
I cut them into 4" strips and then just glued them in place with the hot glue. I'm using a liberal amount of hot glue as I don't want leaks. (It always leaks a little bit)
Lets briefly talk resin. Not all resin is the same. Most people are familiar with epoxy resins. 1:1 or 2:1 or what not. Epoxy resin is made up of part resin and part hardener. It's a set formula and you cannot vary it or the resin won't cure properly.
Polyester resin, on the other hand, is infinitely variable based on how many drops of the catalyst you use. but in general It much closer to a 100:1 ratio of resin to the catalyst.
Step 3: Casting
What I want is to super heat this batch of resin. I want cracks, distortions, expansion, and bubbles! Light does play nice with clear resin casting. it just looks like a single point suspended in the resin. So what we want is loads of facet for it to bounce off and glow.
So for an over heated casting, polyester resin seemed the best choice.
Saftey: Do not use resin without a respirator. It is SO bad to breathe this stuff and polyester resin is one of the worst.
I started with 750ml of resin. I'm an American and not familiar with the metric system but dang. It's crazy simple to figure out 1/10 of something with it.
As for the dye I wanted to try this alcohol based dyes. I hadn't used them before. I definitely like the effect they have in resin. The dye seems to float rather than combine with it. Funny thing, once I ordered them, I found out they are made in the same county as me. (I don't know why I'm telling you this...)
Back to the casting.
Normally for 750ml of polyester resin you would add .7 ml of catalyst. I added about 8 ml. Things are about to get heated.
I then poured it int the form and waited. This resin normally takes 24-48 hours to complete it's curing. It was hard as a rock in under 2 hours. The next day I removed it from the form. It looks good. I think. The only way to know is to square it up once again at the table saw.
Step 4: Sanding Time
My table way was covered in pink resin shavings...
Resin works all comes down to sanding. and polishing is just about removing the marks from the last grit. That's all you're doing. Take your time and work through the grits.
I started on my random orbit sander
80, 150, 220, 320.
After that, I switch to drill mandrel setup. (this is the paper I normally use when turning bowls)
400, 600, 800.
Finally moved on to my Micro Mesh polishing pads. Micro mesh grits are their own scale. BUT if I start at the brown pad and end with the grey pad, I get beautiful results.
1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 3600, 4000, 6000, 8000,12000.
It's not a long process and so worth the effort.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
Ask me why I decided to sand and polish this BEFORE drilling out a 1 3/8" hole through the 10" piece of wood? I have no idea.
In order to get a centered hole all the way through the wood and just barely into the resin, I had to kludge a setup at the drill press. I'm not sure how safe it was, but I got it done. 11' extension bar and carbide tipped fornster bit at 1000RPMS while filming. It got the blood pumping for sure.
Finally added a bit of walnut oil to the redwood for protection and beauty.
I really didn't want this to be a plug-in lamp. I wanted more of a functional prop type item. So I turned this cup/plug thing for the base. it's just a round cylinder with a 3/4" hole drilled in it to hold my flashlight. The whole thing is a friction fit into the base of the lamp.
It holds a flashlight. NOW this is flashlight I had. A 270 lumen maglight. I think an LED flashlight would be a better choice. They're cheap and easy to find in the 200-300 lumen range.
Step 6: Completed
I'm super happy with the results and I'm calling it my version of a Minecraft Redstone Torch. I don't play Minecraft but my kid does and she claims, "It looks pretty close Dad."
I'll take it.
It can either be used as a prop or as a bedside lamp, and I love how you can see all the cracks and distortions we got from super heating the resin. It has a lot of depth to it and I kept finding myself staring into while filming my outro. :)
Bonus shot of me looking way too lovingly at my creation...
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