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John Uttenreither

A Repurposed Artifact Lamp

Made From A Vintage Drill Press

How to make something priceless


John Uttenreither

Designer, builder, husband, father...

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Skimming Craigslist I saw this old 1895 drill press. When I saw it, to me, it looked like a lamp missing it's lampshade. My wife saw it and had her usual doubts about her choice of a husband. But I didn’t see the rust and petrified grease, I saw the fun Ben and I would have making something beautiful.


Two peas in a pod.

So off Ben went to negotiate a good deal on the lamp. I..., I mean drill press. The add said $90.00, Ben came home with it for $75.00. Way to go Ben!


We cleaned it together, designed the color scheme together. I put the finish on it, and he wired it up.

Ben and I wanted to do a fun project together, father and son. We weren't exactly sure what, but we were searching for inspiration. 

Pretty cool!


The best part, we did it together.


Then we thought, lets put it up for sale. Yes, Capitalism!


And that’s when things went wrong. I lost sleep, chewed my fingernails, and saw another gray hair. And it was on top of another gray hair!


I was struck with horror at the thought. What if it sells? I mean that would be great and everything. Right? But no, that would be horrible!

This lamp had become so much more than just another project to trade for money.

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We tried to followed the slight clues of color and finish barely remaining on the neglected tool. Even though we had to totally refinish it, notice that we created a finish character that helps support the history of the object. We felt applying a perfect "new" looking finish would erase that.

The memory of the time we spent together working things out, struggling, laughing, learning, and getting it done, now this project represented that and a lot more. I see the reflection of us being together, shining from the lamp, weather it's turned on or not.


I just couldn't part with it.

So sorry, it's not for sale. What we created together, that special bond that was strengthened, makes it priceless.

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