I recently got a great deal on two boxes of solar garden/path lamps on eBay - 8 lamps for US$15 bucks, including shipping! These lamps are great for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is they use rechargeable batteries, replenished daily by the sun, and require no expensive electricity!
So I've been looking for various ways to use this lamps to provide some evening light in our Brazilian beach house. My first foray into solar night lights was my Solar veranda roof lights. My next project was a Gothic gargoyle solar night light.
It was only a matter of time before one of these lamps go the makeover of my real passion - Steampunk;-)
So here's how I turned a boring solar garden light into a work of steampunk art.
• Hole saw set
• Power drill
• Rotary tool
• Block of wood
• Hollow dowel
• Cabinet handle
• Black paint
• Clear varnish
Step 1: Drill wood block
For the base of this lamp, I used a piece of Brazilian hardwood called "Massaranduba," the same type of wood I used for my Steampunk 3rd Hand and my Steampunk incandescent USB lamp.
What makes this wood great for a lamp base is it's density, which provides the necessary weight for the base of a lamp. It also makes it very difficult to drill!
Critical for this build is a good set of hole saws and a clamp. Cheap hole saws would likely have snapped in this process. And the clamp is absolutely necessary to prevent the block of wood from spinning around.
In the picture above, I had already painted the edges of this block of wood, which was a mistake. I should have waited until all the sanding was done, as I had to paint it again.
Once the wood is securely clamped, use hole saws to drill a set of concentric circles, as seen in the photos above. Use a file, knife or other sharp tool to scrape away the excess wood. I chose not to drill all the way through the block of wood, as I wanted to mount the dowel into the wood block base.
The result should be a sort of donut drilled into the wood, that will hold the hollow dowel in place.
Step 2: Drill handle holes
Once the hole for the leg of the lamp is drilled, now drill two holes to mount the handle.
Step 3: Cut dowel
The piece of wood I used for the leg of this lamp came from a karate trophy I found on the street. Over the years I've found a number and variety of trophies in the garbage, and they can usually be stripped for good parts, like marble bases, brass fixtures and really cool looking wooden legs;-)
This piece of wood has a really cool checker pattern cut into it, and is nicely stained and painted. I knew I would put it to good use one day;-)
What's perfect about this piece for this purpose is that it has a hole drilled through the middle, which is almost exactly the diameter of the solar lamp head!
I cut the leg of wood about in half, to suit the desired height of my lamp.
Step 4: Sand dowel
The hole in the center of the dowel was just a bit too tight to fit the solar lamp head, so I sanded a bit on the inside edges with a rotary tool.
Step 5: Paint and stain base
I painted the edges of the wood base black and stained the top surface to better match the karate trophy leg. The paint I used is an all-weather black oil-based paint, which took a few days to dry properly.
Try not to be impatient, and let the paint and stain sit as long as they need to in a dry area, away from wind that may blow dust into your paint job.
Step 6: Paint grommet
I'm not sure what this grommet was for in it's previous life, or even where I found it, but it's the perfect size to fit around the wooden leg, and give it an additional bit of steampunk flare. But the original black rubber wouldn't do, so I spritzed it with some copper spray paint.
Step 7: Paint handle
This wooden handle came from the local hardware store, and was original intended for a drawer or cabinet, but with a coat of gold metallic paint. it also makes a nice steampunk solar night light handle.
For a tighter fit and some additional bling, and I included a pair of brass finished washers, salvaged from a discarded lamp.
The handle serves a few purposes: First it balances the overall look of the lamp; Second it handy to hold on to when carrying the lamp, and third, it looks cool;-)
Step 8: Assemble parts
So if you've made it this far; the karate trophy leg gets stuck in the donut hole, the handle gets screwed to the pre-drilled holes in the base, and the gold-painted rubber grommet goes over the karate trophy leg, as pictured above.
Note: These wooden handles are delicate so screw gently;-)
Step 9: Paint lamp head
As I mentioned at the beginning of this 'ible, these solar lamp heads have a lot of great virtues, but stylish is one of them, so I decided to paint my metallic copper. (First cover the solar cell with tape).
Step 10: Finished
Here are a few shots of the finished product. If you decide to make your own, please post a photo in the comments section below, 'cuz I'd love to see other peoples take on this project.