How to Make Oil Lamp Wickholders

by Master Bedwyr Danwyn (mka Ted Lazcano)

Link to the pictures (also numbered 1 thru 17)


[1] Building the Jig: Make the base and cranks from whatever you have on hand*, as the exact thickness of wood and steel rod do not impact function of jig.  To make the cranks from steel rod, heat the ends of the rods with a propane torch and form hooks with pliers while rod is hot.  Slide the rods through holes drilled in the guide blocks, then make 90 degree bends to form handles.  NOTE: in the center of the jig a bolt has been screwed up from the bottom of the base, over which a nylon spacer has been placed, capped off by a wingnut.  Nylon spacer and steel rod, wing nuts, etc can be found at most hardware stores. *(A rough sketch of my own jig is included here, as well as suggestions for wickholder making without a jig.)

[2] Bottom view of the jig.

[3] Place the flared brass tube that holds the wick* on the bolt, resting on the nylon spacer, and secure with the wingnut.

* Making the flared brass tube: I make mine from 1/4 inch; brass tubing about 3/8 inch long, as it works well with the cotton mop strands that I use for the wicks. I use a commercial pipe flaring tool.  You can also purchase eyelets at a sewing/craft store to serve the same purpose, though they may be shorter.

[4] I use 16 gauge brass wire for my wick holders.

[5] Clip a piece of wire about 30 inches long.

[6] Form the wire into a circle and twist the ends together.

[7] Then form it into an equilateral triangle.

[8] Place the wire triangle onto the three hooks .

[9-11] Start twisting the handles in sequence, a couple of twists at a time.

[12] As the loop closes in to grasp the flared tube, selectively turn the handles for best appearance.

[13] Remove the wingnut and wiggle the wire unit free from the hooks.

[14] Clip off the loops.

[15] Bend the arms to fit your lamp, and add the wick, which should be presoaked in olive oil. NOTE: for reasons of safety and wind resistance, plan to have the wick/flame lower than the top of the lamp edge.  You can factor this into your bending design.

[16] OIL LAMP IN USE: Observe that the olive oil is right up to the wick holder, and is only an inch deep.  (NOTE: olive oil will only draw up a wick about one inch.  To extend burning times, wider, not deeper, reservoirs of oil are needed.).  Below the olive oil the remainder of the lamp is filled with WATER –AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT SAFETY FEATURE: don't omit this step.  Commercial olive oil container is shown to the left.  The bottle is made of plastic, a useful feature.

[17] DARKENED ROOM VIEW: OIL LAMP next to CANDLE :  a comparison view of the light given off from a candle and a glass oil lamp.  While the brightness given off is similar in both, a unique feature of a glass oil lamp is the focused light projecting down from the oil lamp.  Many medieval glass lamps were suspended (as the recreated version here would have been) possibly to make use of this effect.

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