Lamp making

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Forum topic by Chris_T posted 01-23-2011 03:41 AM 2200 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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94 posts in 3395 days

01-23-2011 03:41 AM

I want to start making rustic lamps but don’t really have any idea how. Does any one have a tutorial or pics of the process. I also need to know where to get the lamp parts. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

16 replies so far

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2780 posts in 3523 days

#1 posted 01-23-2011 06:01 AM

Making lamps is not as hard as selling them is.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View jmichaeldesign's profile


66 posts in 3384 days

#2 posted 01-23-2011 06:38 AM

Cheapest way to get lamp parts is to buy lamps at a thrift store. Most hardware stores, as well as Home Depot and Lowes should have lamps parts also. I know that there is a technically correct way to wire lamps, but I don’t recall why as there’s only two wires and you can connect either one to either side and it will work fine. As far as lamp shades if you can’t find ones you like at the thrift store any home goods store carries them, or figure out ways to make your own. You can recover existing shade frames or build them from scratch.

View Chris_T's profile


94 posts in 3395 days

#3 posted 01-23-2011 07:24 AM

For me it’s really not about selling them I just like making things. I mean don’t get me wrong I would like to be able to sell them and get my money back. Are there tutorials some where?

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 3799 days

#4 posted 01-23-2011 03:58 PM

Alright, I have seen lots for different kinds of lamps, I guess my first question is do yo have a lathe? If so then here are some lamps I made for Christmas this year
There are lots of styles of lamps, the hardware can be gotten from, about $15 a piece, but I found a place on ebay, that was half the price and maybe 20 different options, here is the link to his store, you may need to root around a little
Here is a link on the discussion of lamp augers,
My ultimate suggestion is the gun drill bit.
If you want to make lamp shades here is a link to my process,
I hope this helps you out a little, good luck.
Also if you don’t have a lathe, there are lots of other kinds of lamps you can make.

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3675 days

#5 posted 01-23-2011 04:27 PM

For me, the primary challenge in lamp making is getting a hole through the middle for the cord. There are several ways to “skin this cat” but some can be challenging – especially on a tall lamp.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 4081 days

#6 posted 01-23-2011 05:17 PM

Hey Rich…I have never made lamps, but on the hole down the middle, would it be possible to do the lathe work, then put the piece on a sled and rip it in half with the table saw, run a dado down the middle, then glue the two sides back together? Just a thought.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View MrsN's profile


987 posts in 4127 days

#7 posted 01-23-2011 05:50 PM

do a google search for “how to wire a lamp”. Basically the plug has wires that run up to the socket. One wire goes to each side. Most sockets have ways to attach a shade.
if you go into the ligting section of a big box store there is often a lamp building kit. You could also tear apart thrift store lamps to learn or re-use parts.
how you build the lamp is up to your imagination

View Chris_T's profile


94 posts in 3395 days

#8 posted 01-23-2011 06:56 PM

How do you attach the socket to the lamp. What parts do you need socket, cord, harp? Do you put the cord through the bottom of the base with a dado in the base for the cord so it sits flat?

View Stephen Mines's profile

Stephen Mines

226 posts in 3291 days

#9 posted 01-23-2011 08:23 PM

Hi Chris,
The little lamp parts (collars, lock-washers, nuts, fittings, etc that we in the biz call giblets) are available much less expensive than the retail stores…Google: lamp parts, wholesale… find one in your locale and then ask for a parts catalog. If you have to open an account to buy, open a c.o.d. account and place an order.
As for Andrews suggestion of using a deep hole gun-drilling set-up, my experience is that it can work for small runs and short lengths but usually is a pretty iffy (read dangerous) method. I had to do it once on 600 purple heart chandileer parts only 8” long and it was a real bear. Best, if you have the option to make the lamp out of more than one piece of wood is to use the dado and glue up method. Here is how that works: say you need a 1/2” cord (or pipe) hole in the piece, mill and lay out your wood in at least 2 parts and dado 1/4” deep X 1/2” wide in the center of each one of the center pieces. Pieces should be about a 1/4” up to 3/4” longer than the finished piece for trim-to-length later. Make plugs 1/2” X 1/2” about an inch long and use them as ‘keys’ in the ends of the pieces when you glue up. When the parts come out of the clamps, trim to finished length, mark centers on the plugs, and put on the lathe and turn. (Of course this method works even if it is a non-turned part). When the piece is finished, ready for assembly, set up a drill press to drill out the 3/8” or so of plug in each end and you have a through hole. I have stub drill bits brazed/welded on to long rods of different diameters to clean the holes of glue squeeze-out, making sure that the cord/pipe can be inserted without running into an obstruction. On really long lamp columns 40-60” plus, I place a 1/2” plug in the center as welll as the ends to keep the parts aligned…it is easily drilled out when you’re cleaning your through hole. Let me know if this works for you…or yell if you need me to clarify. Good luck!

-- Stephen Mines ([email protected])

View TZH's profile


559 posts in 3741 days

#10 posted 01-23-2011 10:33 PM

Hi, Chris,
Here’s something else for you to consider. Quite awhile ago, I found this web site ( that doesn’t really go into great detail on the site about how to make lamps, but offers a book for $30 on making what they call artistic rustic lamps (you had mentioned in your post how you wanted to start making rustic lamps). I bought the book and was pretty impressed with Ron’s (the author) method for doing this. Although he isn’t a member of LJ’s (at least I don’t think he is), I feel he merits consideration as a useful link for all of us who decide to go this route. Another lamp maker you may want to check out can be found through Their web site is called Rocky Mountain Twist, and they make some really spectacular rustic lamps. Hope this helps.


-- Where The Spirit In Wood Lives On

View WoodLe's profile


155 posts in 3397 days

#11 posted 01-23-2011 11:38 PM

The easiest method of getting the hole all the way through is to router or dado a groove in both halves before gluing up the blank and then turning on the lathe. Keep the groove in from the ends an inch or two and then drill in both ends after it is turned on the lathe. Doing it this way makes it easier to center on the lathe.

-- Wooster, Ohio

View rance's profile


4271 posts in 3761 days

#12 posted 01-24-2011 02:50 AM

Try taking a few apart, you’ll learn a lot from that.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View rogerw's profile


262 posts in 3290 days

#13 posted 01-24-2011 04:38 AM

jmichaeldesign said “I know that there is a technically correct way to wire lamps, but I don’t recall why as there’s only two wires and you can connect either one to either side and it will work fine.”

ok, before you get someone killed there IS a correct and an incorrect way to wire a lamp.

Yes there are only two wires and yes i will work both ways and yes if it is wired wrong you could get someone knocked on their a$$. If you don’t know about electricity I would suggest a different project.

Coming out of an electrical outlet is a hot, a neutral, and a ground. The ground is optional on lamps and is usually omitted. If the lamp is made of metal I would suggest using it and connect the ground to the metal body of the lamp.

I Suggest using a polarized plug, ie., one blade is wider than the other and wire it as follows. The neutral has no current on it and is the wider of the two prongs of an outlet socket. This neutral is wired to the outside of the light bulb socket. This is done to ensure that as the bulb is screwed into the socket there is no chance of touching the hot side of the circuit by inadvertently touching the screw part of a light bulb. The hot side of the circuit is wired to the little button at the bottom of the light bulb socket.

-- >> my shop teacher used to say "do the best at everything you make for your mom because you're going to see it for the rest of your life!" <<

View Richard's profile


11309 posts in 3633 days

#14 posted 01-24-2011 06:30 AM

You can try what I just did. Go to the top of the page. Click “Search’. Put in “Lamps”. Click “Search’.

It returned 10 Pages of lamps on LJ. You can narrow it down further by clicking on one of the Categories shown.

Not sure how much Electrical Detail or Actual Assembly will be shown however.

I’ve done quite a few Old Lamp re-Builds just for the fun of it. It’s NOT a complex process. Think I put one on here. I’ll go have a look and see if I can find it.


EDIT: It’s Here

However it does have 2 Bakelite Pull Chain Sockets. You can use either one or both. I kept this one for MY front Room.

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18781 posts in 4277 days

#15 posted 01-24-2011 09:00 AM

That is the highest risk form of woodworking you can do! If you don’t have a UL, you are on thin ice. Even if you did, you are toast when the first fire happens. This is a life safety issue and you are literally playing with fire.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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