Tim 2

  Most woodworking machines and hand tools are designed for making  caseworks and joinery with straight, square cuts.  Turning is different; it requires a more 3-dimensional perspective, most lines are curved and more precise hand-work is usually needed but still, a lathe is designed to accomplish this.  However, combining an 8-sided shape with graceful sweeping arcs over a long span is altogether different and absent large automated machinery, it can be accomplished by precise handwork and patience..... and that's what this story is all about.... making this elegant, contemporary floor lamp with its deceptively simple flowing lines, inset stripes.... and its surprising complexity.  It's a challenge I'm really look forward to, here is the design:

Let's begin with the lamp stem and come back to the base and finial later in this story.  The stem is nearly 46" long and a cross section mirrors the 8 sided shape of the base.  It has smooth, flowing arcs which range from approximately 1 3/8" diameter at the top to 6" diameter near the base and it has 2 sets of inset stripes, each set at approximately a 45 degree incline.  Although these measurements and angles may change slightly, the arcs need to be smooth and continuous so, the stem needs to be shaped as a single piece. 

The stem will be built up as a long square block, the stripes will be set into the block and then the block will be rough cut to the approximate shape of the stem.  More on each of those steps as the stem progresses but once they are done, it then needs to be shaped accurately into the final shape which will be done by hand.  After the block has been rough cut, it's most important to be able to work it lengthwise to create the smooth flowing arcs, and around the diameter from all clock angles so that each of the 8 sides can be shaped equally along the arcs.  To do this, a special holding fixture is necessary and you can see this below.

This is a highly engineered fixture which is sufficiently robust to withstand lateral and longitudinal forces from hand-planes, spoke shaves, scrapers and chisels.  One end of the fixture is fixed, the other end slides and the threaded steel rod runs through the center of the stem in the wire-chase.  The stem is held in place by friction against each end of the fixture; when the ends of the stem are against the ends of the fixture, the sliding end of the fixture is tightened so it won't slide further and the threaded rod is tightened to increase friction between the ends of the stem and the ends of the fixture.  To rotate the stem for working each side, tension is reduced, the stem is rotated and tension is increased to hold it in place.  This allows rotation of the stem to infinite positions, it allows each side of the stem to be worked flat without inducing twist and it allows access to all parts of the stem without needing to move it.  Here are a couple photos of the fixture.               


It's also most important to maintain the same consistent arc on each of the 8 sides of the stem.  To accomplish this, ends of the fixture are fitted with small saddles to hold matching profile templates of the arcs, one template fits on each side of the fixture and here you can see a couple photos with the blanks for the templates in place on the fixture, the actual arc still needs to be cut into these templates. 

So, as the stem is shaped, a straightedge is placed across the templates to gauge where the stem needs additional shaping.  This will be easier to see once the shape of the arc is cut into the templates.  Because the stem is actually held in the fixture through its center, it can be rotated for identical shaping of each side.  

 Next up is cutting the templates to the shape of the arc.

 Here you can see the first template laid out and ready to cut.  The shape is actually transposed from a drawing then outlined with fine painters tape.

 The shape is then cut out on the band saw and the edges are sanded to smooth the curve then the first template is used to create the second so they are identical.  Since only one side of the stem will be shaped at a time, the template is actually half of the profile (lengthwise) of the stem. 

 Here are a couple photos showing both templates finished and in place on the fixture with the straight edge resting on the templates.

 The templates are really intended as a guide for shaping the stem, they will go off an on the fixture frequently as the stem is being shaped.  When they are removed there is unobstructed access to the stem for hand tools.  The templates are also marked so they can be installed on the fixture in the same position each time.



 Next is getting the wood and a trip to the mill didn't disappoint (never does).  Here you can see the walnut and maple which will go into the lamp.  The maple will be used for the white stripes.  


 ... and here are a couple photos that include the bloodwood which will be used for the red stripes.  The bloodwood finishes to a rich crimson color and should compliment the walnut and maple nicely.


 The woods need a couple days to acclimate before working; once they are ready, the blocks for the stem and the base will be built up. 

The block for the stem section is being built first and the first steps are surfacing and edging the timbers.  Other than preparing the surfaces for gluing, this helps give a better look at the grains and colors for best matching.  Both face sides of the timbers are planed, this is preliminary surfacing and the final surfacing will be done by hand.  Here you can see the timbers after being planed. 

 Next is edging each of the timbers and cutting them to the rough width needed for the stem.  The edges are quite rough and irregular on the timbers straight from the mill so they need to be cut as straight as possible.  One straight edge is needed as a guide for the saw so the edge closest to straight is planed and scraped by hand to accomplish this.   

 Once each timber has a straight edge, the opposite edge is removed in the band saw.  Once this is done the timbers will be sized to the correct width and all 4 sides will have been surfaced so the grains, colors and imperfections are easier to see.

Here you can see the two timbers for the stem against each other; there is quite a bit of work remaining before they can be joined into the block for the stem.  You can see one of the timbers has some twist and this will be worked out (flattened) by hand so the boards are not stressed when glued and clamped.  Also, the grain in one of the timbers changes considerably over the length of the timber, there are small knots to work around and one of the timbers has a little sap wood.  These are actually common items to encounter when gluing wood into blocks and by aligning and trimming the boards carefully before gluing, most of these items can be worked around.   

Aligning the timbers before gluing is an important step to get the best matching of colors and grains.  First the imperfections that need to be worked around are marked so they are easy to see.  Here are a couple photos where they are marked with green tape.



Next, the grains on the sides of the timbers need to be matched because this is where the timbers will meet.  When the timbers are cut, the saw blade leaves rough markings and it's sometimes hard to see the true grain through these markings.  So, the edges are scraped to smooth the saw markings and the true grain colors and patterns are revealed.  Here you can see the difference between one side that has been scraped and one that hasn't.  

 Next is a quick, 2 dimensional layout of the lamp profile (outline shown by green tape).  This layout allows a visual check to see if adjustments need to be made to the profile and the master template (made earlier with the fixture) is used for this; the profile looks quite good.  Next the layout is used to see where the imperfections would fall on the lamp and what adjustments need to be made in positioning the lamp within the timbers to avoid these imperfections.  Measuring from this layout it looks like the lamp can be positioned within the timbers to miss the imperfections.

 So, starting with the longest timber, the length of the stem is marked out, the bottom of the stem is marked by yellow tape and the top by green tape.  The different colored tape is for the benefit of the maker so there's no confusion which ends go together.  Once the first timber is marked, the second timber gets positioned against it and indexed by hash marks so the same alignment is maintained during cutting and handling prior to gluing.  Here are photos showing the two timbers matched up.  This is how the grains and colors will look on the the block but, the stem will be cut out of the block in a long sweeping taper and the appearance of the grains will change along this shape.  It's always a bit of a mystery how the grains and colors will match on the finial shape but for some guidance, the ends of the timbers are checked to see exactly how the timbers were cut from the raw logs and a visual estimate can be made as to the likely directions of the grains around the circumference of the stem.  At best this is only an estimate.  Last thing to do for positioning the timbers is to flatten the surfaces which are being joined.


All of this effort to align the timbers, match grains and colors may seem a bit tedious; particularly since these timbers can go together in almost infinite ways, but I think there is only one best way they should go together and finding it is part of the art in making these exceptional lamps.

Once it's determined how the timbers should go together, the joining surfaces need to be surfaced so the timbers fit together well.  As the timbers are run through the surface planer, small tool marks are left in the wood and these need to be removed to see where the surfaces need work and how much. 

  A scraper is used to remove the tool marks then the boards are surfaced with a large hand plane.  This process usually takes a while because it's plane and fit, plane and fit, until the boards align against each other smoothly.  The longer timber has more twist than expected so it's going to require quite a bit of work.

 Here you can see the timbers positioned as they'll be glued.  Still more to do with the plane but they are getting close. 

Final hand-plane work is complete and the timbers rest against each other quite well.  

Next these timbers get glued together to make the block which the stem will be cut from.  Before gluing them, the wire chase is cut longitudinally in the center of the timbers, this is where the threaded brass conduit will run and the wiring will run inside the conduit.  Note the small pegs at each end of the wire chase; these are used to align the timbers when they are glued together and these pegs will be drilled out when the block goes into the holding fixture for shaping. 

And here you can see the timbers glued together and the wire chase can be seen in the center of the two timbers.  It will take a couple days for the glue to dry; once that's done the block will be removed from the clamps, trimmed and prepared to add the stripes.  Next up, building the block for the base. 

 Work space in the studio is limited and the stem in the clamps is taking a large area.  So, before starting the block for the base, lets get the stem out of the clamps and trimmed so it frees up working space.  When the clamps are removed, the ends of the block are cut off and the sides get cut to size.  Here are photos after this was completed and the wireway was opened up so the block can be mounted into the shaping fixture.

 After cutting the sides to size they are scraped to show the seams clearly; they look great with no voids and the wood grains and colors look like a nice match all around the block.  Also, once the wireway is opened up, the excess glue needs to be removed from within so it's a clear passageway all the way through the block and this has been completed.  The glue inside the wireway is still fresh so it needs more drying time.

 Here you can see the block with one of the templates in its approximate relative position when in the fixture.  At this point the block measures 6" square x 52" long, about 3" longer than needed for the fixture so the ends will be cut again before the block goes into the fixture.... and now we have work space back so let's get started on the base.

 So, the base is built up in three layers; the bottom is walnut, the center is maple and the top is walnut; the maple layer forms the white stripe.  The upper surface of the base is cut at a slant so the amount of each wood that's visible will be considerably greater than if each layer was cut with perpendicular edges; meaning, the width of the maple stripe will be much greater than the thickness of the maple, same for each walnut layer.  Therefore, the thickness of each layer becomes quite important for locating the stripe in the correct position and still holding the overall width and height of the base, including the feet.  The grain direction for each layer needs to be the same and any glue joints need to be offset to add strength to the base but also for aesthetics.  Here you can see the bottom walnut layer and the maple layer, cut to thickness, spliced and glued in different widths so the seams are offset; the walnut section is made from two boards, the maple section from three and the top walnut layer is a single piece of walnut.  Also, this specific piece of maple was selected because of its very curly grain and the expectation is that the curly grain should form a marbling effect in the stripe but this will depend upon how this specific piece of maple refracts light once finish is applied... fingers crossed.  Once the glue dries in  these layers, each layer will get light surfacing so they mate well and the block of all three layers will be built up.  More on this as the block progresses.

 Here you can see the block for the lamp finial being built up, the red and white stripes are intended to compliment the stripe patterns in the lamp stem.  This block is still in rough form and several more steps are needed to prepare it before it can be shaped into the finial; more to follow on this as it progresses.

 The two layers of the base that were glued, were removed from the clamps and all three layers were surfaced.  The center of each layer was also drilled (vertically) for a centering pin that helps align the grains of all three layers as the block is being glued into a single section.  It's hard to show this detail in this photo because of the clamping arrangement but it will be visible once this section is out of the clamps.  After the glue dries, the feet are cut into the bottom layer, the block is cut to size and then into its eight sided shape, then the top surface is cut for it's sloping angle.  The underside will also be cut to accept the weight which is concealed in the base. 

 The stem has two groups of stripes which are inset to the stem, a lower group and an upper group.  The lower group of stripes has a wide center stripe of maple and two thinner outside stripes of bloodwood; the upper group has two thinner maple stripes.  These maple stripes will be cut from a large block, across the grain at a 45 degree angle, so that the grains run vertically (same as the walnut grains in the stem) and the curly aspects of the maple will orient generally perpendicular to the grain.  To accomplish this, the maple needs to be built into a large square; that has been done, the adjoining surfaces have been smoothed and the boards have been glued; you can see them clamped for drying in the photo below.  Once the glue dries, the maple stripes can be cut which is the start of building up the two stripe groups.  More on this when the stripes are cut. 

 The block for the finial was previously glued up with the stripes but that gluing was primarily to stabilize the stripes between the pieces of walnut sufficiently so that the block could be pinned through the center without having the stripes and walnut sections shift out of place.  So, a wooden pin (dowel) has now been glued into the block, it runs lengthwise within the block (through the stripes) and fastens the two walnut sections and the stripes securely so the block is strong and stable enough to work.  Once the glue was set for the pin, the brass was set into the bottom of the block.  This brass is how the finial will attach to the lighting fixture and once the glues in the block have dried the finial shape can be cut.   

 The blocks for the base and for the maple stripes are now out of the clamps.  Here you can see them after the edges were cleaned up so they can be worked.

 This photo shows the layers in the base more clearly than the previous photo when the block was clamped.

 So, this photo shows the top surface of the base after the 8 sides were cut.  The metal disc is a faceplate used for attaching the block to the lathe.

 The block was turned on the lathe to make the cut-out for the weight and then the feet were cut.  Here you can see the underside of the base where these steps were done.  The reason for the feet, other than nice aesthetics, is so the power cord can pass under the lamp instead through the back of the lamp which makes the lamp non-directional.

 ... and here you can see the base upright, the layers are apparent along with the elevation provided by the feet.  There is still much sanding to do on the base but the finished piece is beginning to take shape.  Next step for the base will be shaping the edges and cutting the slope on the upper surface.

The block for the finial is ready to work and here is a photo of it after it's been cut to rough size and shape.   This finial is cut in a pyramidal octagon shape, not turned but the lathe it's mounted on functions as a holding device so it can be carved.   The corners were carved by hand to form the octagon shape. 

 Here are a couple photos of the finial after shaping is completed but before finish is applied.  It measures approximately 3" tall x 1.4" diameter at the base.


Here is a photo of the bloodwood stripes being built up.  The bloodwood is sandwiched between 2 pieces of curly maple.  Bloodwood, being an exotic wood, has a higher natural oil content than most domestic woods so a synthetic glue is used to bond these three pieces.  This type of glue expands as it's curing so it tends to make a mess but it holds very well.  Once the glue dries, the excess will be trimmed off and the woods will be easier to see.  The maple pieces are much thicker now than they will be in the finished stripe and once the glue dries, this piece will be surfaced to bring the maple down to the correct thickness.  Once that's completed the piece will be cut in half lengthwise and each section will form the bloodwood striping for the stem.

The stem also receives a large stripe of maple which goes between the bloodwood stripes, here you can see the piece that has been cut to form this stripe.  In between the bloodwood stripes and this maple stripe are stripes of black walnut which will be cut from the block of black walnut being used for the stem.    

Here you can see the board which will form the bloodwood stripes.  In this photo it has already been cleaned up from gluing and the maple sections have been planed and scraped to thickness. 

 Next, the walnut stripes need to be cut from the stem block so they can be glued to the bloodwood stripes.  Before cutting this block, layout of the stripes and lamp profile are completed to make sure everything looks right.  This layout needs to be fairly precise so the stripes are positioned correctly and so they get set into the block properly.  Sure enough, the profiles made earlier for the fixture needed a small trimming for a smoother shape of the sweep (curve) in the stem.  This was completed and here are a couple photos of the stem and stripe layout on the block.  Cutting the block is a point of no return, it will be cut into three sections, the stripes will be added between these sections then the block is reassembled into a single piece.  The cuts must be accurate, correctly positioned and there is little room for error; the block is quite large which makes handling more difficult so positioning for the cuts is a little more challenging.  A little extra time to study the pattern, recheck the stripe layout, review how the cuts will be done, etc. is time well spent.


With the layout done, everything looks good, time to cut the stem and this photo shows it once it's been sectioned for the stripes.  The cut at the top is where the two maple stripes will go and the cut nearest the bottom will be where the bloodwood and maple striping starts.  The small section in the center of the block will be sliced for black walnut stripes.  The angled cuts came out well but the surfaces adjoining the stripes need to be surfaced and adjustments to the wireway need to be made for the wood tubes that will secure the stem as a single unit once the stripes are in place.  More on this shortly.   

 Continuing to build up the stripes, here you can see the bloodwood stripes next to the black walnut and maple stripes along with the start of the upper stripes.

 Here is a separate photo of the bloodwood, maple and walnut stripes to see a little more clearly how they will look together in the stem.  This is the stack as it will be in the stem except that it will be canted at a 45 degree angle.  

 ... and here you can see the bloodwood and walnut stripes glued and clamped.

 One of the things about this lamp that takes so long is that each adjoining surface will be glued so they must be square and flat and the angles need to be correct or the the seams won't look good and the stripes could be off.  This takes a lot of time because when the angles are cut, the saw blade leaves too rough and irregular of a surface for gluing and there really is no way to prepare these surfaces other than by hand.  Here you can see where this is started on the lower section of the stem; the bloodwood stripe will be glued to this surface.

 The base of the stem will be cut with a reverse octagon pattern where it meets the base.  The bottom surface of the stem also needs to be a nice flat surface, perpendicular to the stem.  To simplify shaping in the fixture and, as long as the stem sections are in smaller, more manageable sizes, these cuts will be made to the bottom of the stem before the stem is assembled and mounted into the fixture.  The yellow tape in this photo shows approximately where the reverse cuts will be made. 

 The weight fits nicely in the cutout on the underside of the base so the faceplate can be removed and the slanted edges cut on the upper surface of the base.  Here are a couple photos showing the base after that has been done.

 There is still a bit to do on the base before it's ready for finish but after rough-cutting the slant it appears to be turning out very well.  The seams between layers are very tight and consistent, the stripe is quite symmetrical all around the base, the high points of the octagon flats align nicely on the side and top surfaces and there is a hint of marbling apparent in the maple stripe which was hoped for; this will become much more pronounced as the wood is smoothed and finished.  Looks like all the painstaking preparation was worth the effort on this base; even though it is only rough cut in these photos, it really looks good.

 Curiosity got the best of me to see what was under the rough cut surface of the base.  Here are a couple photos after the surface has had an initial sanding; it looks as good or better than expected and the second photo shows the marbling and grains in the maple stripe.


While the stem is in manageable sections, the bevel at the bottom where it meets the base needs to be cut.  In order to do that and have the cuts correct, the octagon shape just above the bevel needs to be set and this involves very precise cuts because it really defines the proportions for the octagon shape of the entire stem.  Here are a couple photos with the square bevel cuts made (at the very base of the stem), the corner bevel cuts still need to be made.  Also, the initial bevel cuts on the stem section are made but these cuts are only sized for the bottom of the stem (just above the bevel); the sweep or arc for the stem starts at this point.

 These photos show the stem section resting on the base and you can see the bevel cuts of the stem align with those on the top surface of the base.  Even though the bevel is only cut to square at this point, the sizing and alignment where it meets the base is quite good and this fit will be more apparent once the corner bevels are cut. 

The stripes will have a wooden tube running through them from stem section to stem section.  These tubes help align the stripes in the stem and they aide in strengthening the stem at the splice joints.  This photo shows the tubes have been made and stem sections have been drilled to accept the tubes.  There is quite a bit of surfacing to do on  the stripes and the adjoining surfaces of the stem sections; once that's done the stripes will be glued into the stem.

Here are a couple photos just to get an idea of the stripe pattern in the stem, one photo shows just the lower stripe section and the other shows both stripe sections; looks very nice.


 The next step is getting the stem built up which means the stripes need to be glued into place.  The individual stripe sections were bored at 45 degree angles so the wooden tube can run through them.  The last bit of surfacing of the adjoining stem surfaces was completed and you can see this in the 3rd photo below.  The angled cuts and angled holes are rarely perfect and a test fit is used to see how well the stripe sections and stem sections align, amount of play, tightness of all the seams, etc.  The joints between stripe layers look very good and the plan was to glue the full stack of stripes and two lower stem sections all at one time.  However, the full stack and stem sections are tending to move a little too much and the concern is when glue and pressure is applied, the angled surfaces may slide enough that the final alignment of all the pieces could be off.  So, rather than glue all the individual pieces and risk a large misalignent, decision was made to glue up the stripe with the wooden tube and then use it as a single piece to align the two stem sections.  Some misalignment is always expected and it's ok as long as it's not too much.  By gluing up the stripe sections into a single unit, all the play between each layer disappears so it makes the final glue up more precise and much easier to accomplish.  A synthetic glue is used to glue the stripe layers and wooden tube together.  This glue expands as it cures and I've found it to have better holding strength when gluing cross and end grains.  The first photo below shows the stripe layers just after the assembly was glued and the next photo shows the assembly a few minutes after gluing when the glue has started to expand.  As it expands, it fills voids so in addition to being a very strong bonding agent, it locks all the pieces together in a very tight assembly.  Once this glue is dried, the stripes will be glued into the two lower stem sections and 2/3 of the stem will then be assembled.  The upper stripes will be glued into the stem sections the same way but because it is a much smaller stripe assembly and it's near the top of the stem, it should be a much easier gluing process - we'll see shortly.



The glue for the lower stripe assembly dried and the excess was removed to check the joints, they look great.  The wooden tube is also locked firmly into the stripe assembly so it's time to glue the stripes into the stem sections and the photo below shows this done.  The same synthetic glue was used to bond these pieces because of it's expanding properties, to lock the stripe sections into the stem sections.  Before these were glued, the middle and upper sections of the stem were cut into an octagon shape, mostly to reduce mass and make them easier to handle.  When the glue dries, the wire chase in the center of the stem will be cleaned out to remove excess glue that expanded into it, then the upper stripes and top of the stem will be glued to the lower stem section.  In the bottom of this photo you can also see the upper stripes drying in the clamp after gluing and the adjoining surface of the top section has been surfaced and readied for gluing.

 The top section of the stem was glued into place with the upper stripes and it's now time to cut the basic shape for the stem.  Here you can see a couple photos after this was completed.  Once the block for the stem was completely built up, it was a rather large and unwieldy piece to handle and the first couple shaping cuts were a challenge and the initial shape of the stem is quite rough.


 and here you can see the stem loaded into the shaping fixture.

 With the stem in such a rough condition, the first thing to do is smooth it so it's more easily worked.  Here you can see photos after initial smoothing, there are still many irregularities at this point but the basic shape is more apparent.




Here are a couple photos after shaping has begun in the fixture.  You can see the templates mounted for each side of the stem, the bar which spans the templates and crosses over the stem shows where the stem needs to be trimmed.  Shaping the stem at this point is done mostly with spokeshaves and scrapers which make quite shallow cuts so this process takes a while.  This is the first side being shaped, the other 3 sides will be shaped so the stem is in a square and then the corners will be cut to make the octagon shape.




 Here you can see the stem has been shaped into an approximate square.  There are still small adjustments to make in the sweep and sizing but it is shaped sufficiently to begin shaping the corners.

 Here you can see shaping the first corner has begun.

Once the corners are brought to their approximate shape it's time to start refining the overall shape for uniformity and visual balance.

The initial shaping of all four corners of the stem has been started so it's in a preliminary octagon shape but a considerable amount of shaping is still needed.  When the stem is in the shaping fixture it's positioned horizontally and even using the templates, that's a difficult perspective to see areas that need additional shaping.  Small adjustments make a big difference in the visual balance of the stem so the best way to view it now is in it's normal position; here you can see it removed from the fixture and positioned upright atop the base.  With the base positioned directly on the floor the lamp is viewed in a static upright perspective and it's clear that additional shaping is needed between the upper and lower stripes.  These areas will be marked and then the stem goes back into the fixture for shaping.  This process is repeated as needed and as the shape evolves, the lamp will be placed on a turn-table so it can be viewed from a more dynamic perspective for balance.     

In the previous photo you can see that the bevel at the base of the stem hasn't been completed yet.  These corners are cut by chisel and here are a couple photos to show how it's done.


 Here you can see the bevel at the base of the stem has been cut.

 ...and here is a test fit against the base to see how the bevel at the base of the stem aligns with the corresponding bevels on the base; looks pretty good.

More fine tuning is needed on the flats of the stem, here you can see they are being sanded to get a better view of where additional shaping is needed.

 As the flats are sanded, the template is used to also see where more shaping is needed and so each flat can be checked for similarity against the main pattern.

 When the stem is mated to the base, it needs to be held in position so the flats on the stem align with those on the base.  It also needs to be centered on the base so another wooden tube is used which fits into the base of the stem and the lamp base.  The hole through the tube is a continuation of the wire chase running through the center of the lamp.  Here are a couple photos to show how the tube fits into the base; the bottom of the stem is already bored to accept this tube.


 Next, the edge of the base receives a small cut-back to give the top bevel a little definition from the outside edge.  This is cut on the table saw and here you can see a tall, temporary fence has been set up as a guide so the cuts on the base are the same around the edge of the base.

 ... and here you can see the detail has been cut, it gives a nice, subtle definition to the outer edge and the top surface.

 Notice the 8 open screw holes in the center portion of the base in the previous photo.  These holes will not be seen when the stem is attached to the base but having open screw holes like this isn't consistent with the quality of this lamp so they will be plugged.  First the tapered plugs are cut and here are a couple photos showing how this is done.


 ... next the screw holes are sized and cleaned up for the plugs, here you can see this has been done.

 These plugs are cut so the tops show face grain of the wood instead of end grain, it's just a nicer appearance and should blend well with the base.  Here you can see the plugs arranged with best grain matching in the base, then they are glued into the holes and trimmed to match the top surface of the base.

 Here you can see the plugs after they were trimmed and sanded, its a nice match with the base.

 If the stem were mated to the base with just the centering tube, it's possible it could twist out of position.  To avoid that, a floating pin will run between the base and the stem, it's located off-center so the stem can't be twisted out of position.  Here you can see the hole has been bored for this pin and the bottom of the stem will be bored to match this once it's in position on the base.

 This anti-twist pin is made of wood and it just rests in the hole, the weight which fits into the recess on the underside of the base holds the pin in place and, as you can see from the next couple photos, the pin won't be visible when the lamp is assembled.  Also, note the oversized countersink around the pin hole, this is just to allow easy access to the pin so it can be removed.


 ... and here is the base with all the details completed and after finish sanding; it's now ready for finish.

 Here is the base after the first coat of finish.

 Time to get the final details on the stem completed.  The sweep of the flats on the stem have all been adjusted and rough sanded, next is finishing the top.  First, the stem gets cut to length. 

 After it's cut to length, the top needs to be flattened, squared with the stem, then a bevel needs to be cut at the top of all the flats and a small circular flange needs to be carved into the top surface to form a centering seat for the brass cap, these steps are carved by hand.

 .... and here you can see the top finished with the brass cap in place, looks pretty nice.

 Next, the base of the stem needs slight adjustent so the stem sits vertically (plumb) on the base.  Here you can see my tilt table which can be adjusted to perfectly level +/- 1/10 of a degree.  This gets clamped to the work table and set to level.  In the center of the table you can see the wooden tube which will go into the base and the bottom of the stem.  The stem is set onto the table, over the wooden tube so it can be rotated on center.

 Checking for plumb is done by rotating the stem about it's center while checking the rotation of the top to be sure it also rotates about it's center.  To adjust plumb, small shavings are removed from the bottom surface at the base of the stem, until the top rotates about it's center.  Here you can see the stem mounted onto the tilt table for rotation.

 So, all the fine tuning for the shape is completed, the stem is cut to length, the top is finished and it's been adjusted for plumb; lastly the finish sanding is completed and here you can see the stem completed and ready for finish.

 ... and here you can see the stem atop the base after a first coat of finish.  Once the finishing is completed, the stem and base will go together as shown in this photo and the two-bulb socket will be installed.