Friday, March 9, 2012

DIY: How to Make A Lamp

Overview - I used a ceramic vase to make a lamp with a simple lamp kit.  You can use most any glass or ceramic vase or container or even a wine bottle!  Making a lamp is a pretty simple process.  I think most any amateur can easily handle the wiring portion.  The most difficult part of the entire process was drilling a hole into the ceramic. 

I made this lamp and it has not caused an electrical fire! Yet.

You can use most any vase or container to make a lamp.  I used two vases that I found at a garden supply store. 

This vase from Red Clay Home on Etsy would make a fablous lamp! 
 I really like the idea of getting the lamp body from Etsy so that your
lamp really is a one-of-a-kind hand made item. 

  • Lamp Body - Most any vase or container can be used
  • Lamp Kit - Includes socket, cord, nipple and bolts.  Available on-line or at any hardware store. 
  • Harp - May be included in the lamp kit, it holds the shade
  • Lamp Top - Something to close off the base.  You can buy one that is premade or make one out of wood or cork.  Will need a hole for the nipple and wiring.
  • Lamp Base - OPTIONAL - I used a lamp base that I found on-line.  If you use a lamp base, the lamp cord will run out of the side of the base rather than out of the body of the lamp. 
  • Long Nipple - OPTIONAL - If you're using a separate lamp base, your lamp will be more stable if you use a niple that is secured to the base and runs through the lamp body and lamp top
  • Lamp Shade - I hope this one is self explanatory
  •  Drill and Drill Bits made specifically for ceramic - OPTIONAL - if your vase or lamp body already has a hole in the bottom or side that will accomodate the cord then you don't need a drill!
  • Wrench - used to tighten bolts on nipple
  • Screwdriver - used to tighten screws on lamp socket
  • Glue - used to attach base (if any) and top

Lamp Top. 

Lamp base.  This is the bottom view.

Drill Bits for Glass or Ceramic

1.   Determine where the cord hole should be placed on the lamp body and mark with tape.  If you’re using a premade base, the hole will go in the bottom of the lamp body and should line up with the hole in the lamp base. If you’re not using a lamp base then the hole will go on the side towards the very bottom edge of the lamp body.

2.   Drill the hole  for the cord with drill bits made specifically for glass or ceramic.  I bought a set of ceramic drill bits and used the smallest bit first and worked my way up to the largest bit rather than just starting out with the largest bit.  I’ve read that doing this will help prevent cracking.  I also placed a piece of tape on top of where I was drilling since I read that this would prevent the drill bit from sliding around on the slick surface.  Be careful, the drill bits will get very HOT!

Hole after I used the smallest drill bit. 

3.   Insert the long nipple through the lamp base and secure.  Skip this step if you are not using a base.  The nipple should run from the bottom of the base.  Use two bolts to secure the nipple from the underside of the lamp base. 

Bottom view of the base and nipple. 
 4.  Insert the lamp cord through the lamp body or nipple. If you are using a lamp base, first insert the cord through the hole that is located on the outside of the base.  Then run the cord through the hole in the bottom of the base, through the nipple and out of the top of the nipple.  You should have about two inches of cord protruding from the top of the nipple.  If you are not using a lamp base, insert the cord through the side of the lamp body and out of the top opening of the lamp body.

Inserting the cord through the side of the base.

Inserting the cord through the bottom of base and through nipple. 

5.   Attach the lamp base to the body.  Skip this step if you are not using a base.  First, make sure the hole in the lamp lines up with the hole in the base then attach the base.  I used glue to attach the ceramic lamp body to the base.

Lamp body has been glue to base. 
You can see the nipple and lamp cord protruding from the top. 
6.   Attach the nipple to the top and secure.  Skip this step if you are using a base.  Slide the nipple through the hole in the top.  The nipple should protrude at least a quarter of an inch from the bottom and about a half inch from the top.  It doesn’t matter if the nipple protrudes more on the bottom side since this will be hidden in the base.   Secure the nipple in place in the lamp top with two bolts on both the top and bottom sides. 

7.   Attach the top.   If you are using a long nipple, apply glue to the top of the lamp body and slide the lamp top over the nipple so that the top rests on the lamp body.  If you are using a short nipple, run the cord through the nipple so that about two inches of cord protrudes from the top of the nipple, then apply glue to the lamp top and place it on top of the lamp body.  Clamp firmly in place until it dry. Use a bolt to further secure the top. 

8.   Attach the harp base.  The hole in the harp base should slide over the nipple.  Use a bolt to secure it.
Lamp with harp base attached. 
9.   Attach the socket base.  The socket base should screw on to the top of the nipple. 
Lamp with socket base attached. 
10. Wire the socket and attach to the socket base.  Follow the directions in your lamp kit.  I’m not an electrician, so I  won’t try to explain it other than to say it’s pretty simple and basically involves wrapping wires around two screws.  The socket then just slides into the base. 
11.  Attach the harp and bulb.  The sides of the harp are somewhat flexible.  Press the sides of the harp together.  Line up the sides of the harp with the slots in the base and release so that the sides slide into the slots on either side of the harp base. 

Lamp with harp and finial attached. 
12.   Attach the shade and finial and your lamp is complete!


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