Wooden lighting fixtures?

We need to replace a bunch of ugly ceiling fixtures in my house. My wife has been showing me a series of ugly commercial ones from various lighting catalogs. I'm thinking of building my own from some walnut I've got. Something like a flat box with wooden sides and a bottom made of frosted glass supported by some kind of wooden gridwork seems simple enough to build.
I'm mostly worried about heat. I need to get rid of, say, 200 Watts of heat without the wood parts burning up. Anybody done anything like this before and have advice to share? Am I just out of my mind to think of building lighting fixtures out of a combustible material?
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Don't worry about it. 200W isn't going to come close to burning up any wood. By the time you build the fixture big enough to be useful as a light you'll have more than enough room in it. You could stick those 100W light bulbs right on top of a piece of pine (let alone walnut) and the light bulb will burn out before it starts the wood on fire.
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On Sun, 19 Sep 2004 16:50:38 GMT, "Mike Marlow"

Keep a few inches of clearance and provide a vent and you should be alright. Many of the old lamps were wood. My favorite was the Gamble House chandelier: http://www.citycent.com/CCC/Pasadena/gambfrnd.htm#tour
close-up reproduction: http://www.historiclighting.com/RetailScience/zoom/lighting/chandeliers/cloud8-00.html/2351/1
http://tinyurl.com/3ovc6 has one book on the subject. <thud>

Please stop being a danger to yourself and others, Mike. Besides, someone who did that and burned up their house could send their insurance company after you from what you just wrote. You encouraged Darwinism, sir. ;)
Wood and paper can catch fire at 451. If you were to go into your garage and put a lamp with bare 100w bulb in the center and lay a piece of paper over it, it would probably catch fire in under half an hour. I have melted plastic shades and scorched paper shades without the bulbs touching them. Incandescent light is HOT so I don't recommend trying this.
The warnings on fixtures to keep specific wattage to a minimum is well warranted. It not only keeps paper shades from burning, it keeps heat from building up and melting the wiring which could also cause a fire.
That said, a simple vent in the top of most lighting fixtures would ensure that the heat didn't build up.
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Larry Jaques wrote:

Depends on the wood. Some exotics have the same fire rating as concrete.

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Larry Jaques wrote:

Oh, please. You must live in complete fear that the boogy man is going to get you. Please provide the case history of an insurance company "going after" an individual for casual advice.

Wood and paper? Damn, I've been using paper to start my wood stove fires for nothing? You mean I could have just put that match under a scrap of 2x4 and started the fire without wasting all that paper?

If you were to have read what I wrote before you launched into your little diatribe Larry, you'd have noticed a couple of things. For one, I never suggested putting a piece of paper on a light bulb. Your point is totally pointless. Really - hit me up when I say something wrong, but geeze, at least stick with the thought at hand.

Ummmmmm.... and this has exactly *what* to do with what's being discussed? I made no mention of wiring or devices that the OP might use in his light.

Ah.... the second point you so conveniently forgot to read in my post. Go back and read it again Larry, it's right at the top of this page. Next time please don't be so hell bent to simply post some sort of insult. Read what's written and respond to that, not to what you may want it to have said.
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Think I'll take a second shot at this and do a little more justice to the grossly incorrect statement made above. Wood does not catch fire at 451 degrees. At around 451 degrees, it will begin to convert its volatiles. At somewhere around 1000 degrees, though it can be as low as around 750 degrees or as high as nearly 1300 degrees, wood will ignite. That's far hotter than any 100w light bulb is going to get it, no matter how long it's left on the wood.
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Mike Marlow wrote:

The moral of this is "don't get your technical information from Ray Bradbury".

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RE: Subject
Why waste time with incandesant lamps with are basically 18 lumen/watt devices.
Consider using the self ballasted flourscent replacement lamps that provide about 60 lumens/watt.
Translation:
3 times the light output for the same amount of waste heat.
Yes, it will cost a few more $'s for the lamps, but if that is a ball buster, why even think about the project?
Lew
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On Fri, 24 Sep 2004 01:16:38 GMT, "Mike Marlow"

It'll start quicker with the match, but if you're vewwy, vewwy patient...

Volatiles begin release with the water vapor at 212F, boiling point of water. Paper catches fire at 451F. Volatiles catch fire earlier than wood and catch the wood on fire. A well-ventilated 150w bulb runs at about 370F (the only actual running temp I could find right now, other than halogens at 970-1200F) but higher if not ventilated. Perhaps it won't catch fire, but I wouldn't want to tempt fate.
If he had a paper shade, following your suggestion -could- (not would) have caused a fire. If he simply put a couple 100w bulbs against a pine board he'd definitely have smoke and a stench if not a fire. What would his wife say then? I believe it is a very bad idea and stand by my humorous (perhaps not to you) remarks to you. The comment you made was ill-advised.
If you still disagree, make the comment to a fireman or the local arson investigator. If you think _I_ insulted you, wait 'til the investigator gets done with you. ;)
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You need to make a choice between incandescent lights of fluorescent lights. The fluorescent lights are far more efficient. There are either tubular forms or screw-in forms. The added efficiency means that you get more light with less heat.
Dick

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Richard Cline wrote:

If you are planning on using stained and/or fumed glass, I recomend you evaluate samples of the glass you would use against the proposed light source to make sure the color you want on the panels meets your expectation. I cannot think of nothing more hideous than a fluorescent bulb illuminating a fumed yellow glass.
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If you do make fixtures out of wood I would suggest that the area directly adjacent to the bulbs be skinned with aluminum flashing material. It will reflect the heat away from the wood and also get more light into the room for a given bulb size. If you drill a few holes in the top and some vent near the bottom they will breathe and lower the heat buildup. Part of a good design is planning the air flow. Bear in mind these really should be U/L tested so you are taking on some responsibility not to burn down your house. Be sure you open them up after they have run a while and check for heat damage and heat buildup. Don't dump the heat in the ceiling box.
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If fluorescent units shim transformers away from the fixture box for heat escape.
On 19 Sep 2004 17:26:02 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Greg) wrote:

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(Greg) wrote:

Been there-- etc. Made two wooden fixture covers. Ceiling type for the same reasons you are thinking of doing it. They are about 10 x 10 x 4". I glued 1/2 x 1/2 "feet" where the fixture would intersect with the ceiling so air would flow through & out of the fixture cover. Simple boxes with stained glass (copper foil method) on the bottom. So it was easy to use a standard electrical fixture that normally would hold a square or round glass ceiling shade & make the hole for the 'hold up bolt' Have had no problem with scorching/burning or heat cracking the sheetrock inside the fixture cover. They have been in place for about 10 years. I did orient the bulbs so they were pointed at the corners of the fixtures. Yours could be larger & deeper to accomidate larger bulbs. I made them of 1/2 oak & all sides were pierced wood with a sunray motif (lots of open space for ventilation). I have 2- 60w bulbs in each. If you try the same approach, make sure the glass is not dark-- ties up too many lumens. Good luck
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snipped-for-privacy@vcoms.net wrote:

The use of transformers in a wooden lighting fixture brings in a whole new risk of hazard. Ask yourself how many transformers have you seen fail (and start fires) and then consider if using a transformer *in* a wooden fixture may not be a ticking time bomb. Would you want your fixture to be the cause of a fire 50 years from now when the new owner is completely incognizant that a transformer failure could be a serious fire hazard?
Even the Peter Hall Shop (Greene & Greene's artisans) used metal conduit within their fixtures as an added layer of protection when running an insulated paired strand of 115v lines to the socket. (I've seen the wire used in the fixtures built in 1908 degrade to the point of the insulation crumbling leaving exposed wires.)
I think you can consider that transformers have a very limited life, and if the risk of insulation degrading within the coil such that a short is produced is probable, then you really do have an eventual fire hazard. Granted for the next 20 years everything may be fine, but after that? -- I sure would not want that on my conscience.
Introducing electrical components into a wooden environment is risky business and the design should be such that future owners can appreciate and assess/monitor the hazards (failing components) introduced by the electrical components.
If you must use transformers, design them so they are not hidden and if they fail, they cannot do anything until the circuit breakers trip.
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For some design ideas, if you like Asian styles. http://www.cherrytreedesigns.com/lighting.phtml
Roy Smith wrote:

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4 - 60 watt bulbs and we never had a problem. It seems like they had a little "wave" at the top where heat could escape but I'm not positive. I still have them there in storage and should be back up there in a few weeks - be glad to take a look at them and let you know. Also, the frosted lens was held by a nut on the bottom of the 4 bulb light fixture - no grid necessary.
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wrote:

Build whatever you want, put compact fluorescent bulbs in it, and don't worry about the heat. CF bulbs with light output equivalent to 200W of incandescent bulbs emit less than 50 watts.
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I saw a guys website a while ago, something called "urban forest craftsman" or somesuch. Anyway, it was really his website about his ongoing whole house remodeling project. Some of the stuff he did was to build an arts & crafts style overhead lamp &, some sconces. FWW has also published a detailed story about an overhead light ala Gamble House fairly recently.
What you want can be done. While others point out UL listing, what you want are UL listed components, venting for the heat & space around the bulbs. In fact this might be the time to consider flourescent since they run cooler.
My opinion, your mileage may vary. Use my advise at your own risk. Keeps arms and hands inside car while ride is in motion. Don't run with sissors.

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