Saturday, February 20, 2016

Church Candle Offering Luminary Prop

This candle offering table looks appropriately dark
With the stained glass panel installed in the one gothic arch window, I began working on the candle offering luminary table. The table will be positioned just inside the entrance top the haunt and will have a number of (real) votive candles lit, just as you'd find in an actual church foyer. It will serve no other function than to lend a bit of authenticity to the scene, creating another layer of depth and detail.

Despite it's lack of "doing something," I still wanted the table to be sturdy, so I am building it out of 1/2" aluminum stock I have on hand. The best way to construct it would be to weld the pieces together, but my welder tends to melt the aluminum even when on its lowest setting, so I will try a different method that should create a sufficiently solid, sturdy joint: brazing.

Brazing is the technique of heating up the aluminum pieces you want to join to a sufficient temperature that when you touch the brazing rod to it -- a narrow aluminum stick that looks like an incense stick -- the rod melts into the joint. Think of it as soldering copper pipes: you want to heat the metal so the solder flows into the seams.

But it does take some practice to get it right. Aluminum melts at around 1200 degrees or more while the brazing rods melt at around 700 degrees. So you have to have patience in heating the metals, otherwise you won't have a solid joint.

To do the heating, you use a regular propane canister, like the blue ones the big box stores sell from Bernzomatic. They go for about $3 a piece, but if you look at the shelves there's also a yellow canister there. That's the one you should get because it heats up the metal much more quickly. It costs about $10. I didn't get that one. I should have, simply because I don't have the patience apparently to wait long enough.

As quickly became clear while I was brazing the pieces, my joints weren't strong enough. Well one of them wasn't. While one seemed solid enough, the other at the end of the leg came failing.

Even if I ended up getting it, I'd be worried it would fail during the haunt if someone touched it, and since it will have actual lit candles on it, I didn't want to have to worry about it.

Always have a Plan B!
So I opted for Plan B: L brackets! Using a drill and self-tapping screws, I attached the cross members to the legs and it was instantly sturdy. No fear about this build failing.

Due to the amount of time it took to make three attempts at brazing and then attaching the L brackets, I only got one side completed, but I should be able to finish up the rest of it tomorrow and move onto the actual offering table top, which will be a series of stepped up shelves so that one row of candles sits higher than the next.

But that's tomorrow's project!


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