Sunday, July 20, 2008

More Progress in the Bathroom

With the medicine cabinet in, I turned to what I thought the next thing on the list in the bathroom - replacing the lighting fixture above it. The one that used to be there was a bit odd, with a random wrap-around of white-painted wooden paneling, and a right-angle piece of brushed aluminum (gold color anodized). It wasn't all that bad, it just wouldn't have worked well with the new medicine cabinet and painted walls.

I did, however, hope to salvage some of the bits of it - an ethos of makers. The light sockets were just fine, with long tails, and the anodized aluminum reflector would be useful in the new fixture. The sockets came out easily enough with some pliers and persuasion, and the right-angle aluminum was very soft and easy to cut on the table saw.

It helps that, being an engineer, I have access to a really well-equipped machine shop. Tucked in one corner are four drill presses, and bits and hole saws to go with. A 1-1/2" hole saw makes the necessary cutout in the sheet metal and wood that would fit the salvaged light sockets. It does take a fair bit of time to make such a hole - one has to go slow to prevent chatter or even stalling the drill, but it does make for decent results.

Unfortunately, good equipment is only as good as the person using it. In my case, they did not prevent me from messing up the hole layout and drilling three evenly spaced holes, instead of the four I actually wanted. The wood wouldn't be such a problem, since I planned on the metal covering it up. But, there's no way to fix the botched layout in the aluminum piece. So, I had to redo it, but this time out of 3/32" brass sheet metal, since that was what was available by that point. The brass was tarnished with time, but some fine sandpaper and scotch-brite pads cleaned that up, and some clear coat over that would keep it looking nice.

Some stain and urethane finish on the wood, and here is the partially assembled lighting fixture. Some more coats of finished are called for, plus adding the light sockets, assembly, and installation.

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