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Unique Floor Lamps Using Vintage Books

Unique Floor Lamps

I’ve seen a couple of unique floor lamps created by stacking vintage books up around the lamp itself. I wanted to give it a try myself. There are a couple of tricks to it, which I’ve learned and will share here. Depending on the lamp you start with and the books you choose, you can build some really unique floor lamps relatively easily. Here’s how mine turned out.

Unique Floor Lamps Using Vintage Books

Materials

The first item you want to select is the lamp you’ll use for the project. Everything else is dependent on the specific lamp, so choose this first. If you don’t have a lamp in mind second hand stores, thrift shops, and the like are good sources for unique floor lamps. You can buy lamps very inexpensively. Ideally, the shaft of the lamp should be smooth. This will make it easy to slide the books down later on. The two parts which are going to matter cosmetically are the base of the lamp and the head, where the socket and shade are. The books will cover most of the pole, so it needn’t be pretty.

The next thing to pick out are the books. There are an infinite number of options here. The only real requirement is that you have enough of them. I wanted to put a shelf on my lamp on top of the books. I measured a good height for a couch-side shelf would be about 28 or 29 inches. Subtract from that the height of the lamp base, and then you know how many inches of books you need.

You can pick matching books like I did, a set of encyclopedias, or you can use a collection of different looks and sizes of books. By picking different sets of books and lamps you can create several different looking unique floor lamps. Just don’t use any signed books, first editions, or anything which will become valuable :)

Book Lamp ShelfI wanted to add a shelf to the top of my stack of books, so I choose a board with the same width as the books I was using. Since my books were about 8″ x 11″, I needed 2 feet of a 1×9 board. I also used some wood stain to match the color of the rest of the lamp, and some polyurethane to protect it. I cut the board to a length about 1/2″ longer than my books, used a router and a shoulder bit to round off the edges, drilled the center hole, sanded it, stained it, and used the polyurethane to protect it from glass circles.

Depending on the baseUnique Floor Lamps - Base of your lamp, you may want a way to support the books slightly above the base. If your base is flat and ugly, the books can just rest on the base and hide it for you. If the base is decorative and you want to show it, you can support the books just above the base as I did. I used a piece of hardware called a shaft collar to mount on the pole at the desired height, then added a board on top of that, the same size as the books, which would support the books. There are no hard and fast rules to creating unique floor lamps, they wouldn’t be unique if there were.

 

Tools

Since we’re going to drill holes in the books and slide them over the lamp pole, we need a drill and a bit which is at least as large as the diameter of the pole. The lamp I chose had a 1 inch diameter pole, so i used a 1 inch bit. This way the books would fit snugly on the pole. I’ve seen other projects where a larger hole was drilled, allowing the books to move around. It’s purely your choice.

I chose to use a drill press instead of a handheld drill for this project for a couple of reasons. The drill press allows me to drill perfectly straight holes, so my books wouldn’t be cockeyed on the pole. The drill press lets me drill straight, repeatable holes.

Also, some experimentation showed me that drilling through a book with a high speed drill burned the paper and cover. A drill press typically has adjustable speeds, so I could drill at a slower speed.

I learned that if you drill through the book without clamping it tightly shut, pages in the middle will tear and build up around the edges of the hole. This makes the book fatter in the middle, and it won’t close neatly. To make sure the book will stay flat, it needs to be clamped tightly shut during drilling. Since the drill press has a table, I clamped the book to the table. This made drilling the hole simple and resulted in a neat hole. I used two ratchet bar clamps like this one.

Unique Floor Lampsunique floor lamps

If you’re looking for an excuse to buy a drill press this may be it. Make sure you get adjustable speeds, and make sure the reach of the press is enough that the book can be centered under the bit. I used an 8″ drill press, and it was just barely big enough to center a hole on an 8″ x 11″ book. I would suggest a 10″ drill press to be safe. I suggest this drill press:

It’s a 10″, it has 5 speeds, the price is great for a brand name, and it gets good reviews.

The next thing to consider is the bit. I tried both a spade bit and an auger bit for drilling through the books. The spade bit started to build up material (paper) between the bit and the edge of the hole, jamming the drill press. I was able to drill through, but spent a lot of time stopping and clearing out the paper from the hole as I went. I thought an auger bit might be better at evacuating the material so I switched to a 1″ auger bit. That turned out to be even worse. The tip of the auger bit is made to draw it down into the material, and did that so well that I couldn’t drill slowly. The bit was drawn down onto the book so tightly, it jammed before it could cut anything. Through some experimentation I found that the best combination was a spade bit (aka a butterfly bit) running at the second speed on the drill press. I still had to stop to clean out material, but only a couple of times per book.

Creating

Start by disassembling your lamp. Remove the shade and harp. Then remove the cover around the light bulb socket. Since these are crimped on, you may have to pry the bottom away from it a little, and rock the cover back forth. Once it’s removed, you can pull the socket up and unscrew the wires from it. Remove enough parts from the lamp to get down to the top of the pole. Leave the pole intact with the wire running through it to the top.

If you’re using a shaft collar, shelf, or anything else to support the books, add them in the appropriate order. Thread the wire through the parts, then slide the parts down the pole to the desired location. Tighten the shaft collar down well, it needs to support quite a bit of weight.

Drill the books. It’s best if you try one or two books which you don’t need first until you find the technique which works best for you. I wanted all of my books to line up neatly, so I drilled the holes in the same place in each book. If you want a jagged stack, offset the hole locations an inch or two toward the top and bottom of the books. This process takes a while, be patient.

Clean up the books and slide them onto the pole in the order you want them. I used a dry microfiber cloth to wipe the books down. It got the paper dust out of all the texture of the covers very well. If you want the books to stay in position relative to each other, you can hot glue the cover of one book and then stack the next book on it. I left mine free to spin so I could experiment with different looks later.

Once you have enough books on the lamp pole to reach the right height for the shelf, add another shaft collar to keep the stack in place, and then add the shelf on top of that.

Finally, just reassemble the top of the lamp. Thread the wire back through any sections you removed, and attach the wires back to the socket. Replace the cover, harp, and shade. Congratulations, you’re done!

Share Your Unique Floor Lamps

I’d love to see picture of unique floor lamps you’ve created like this – please share pictures!

DIY Pendant Light Kit – Quick & Easy Lighting Projects

DIY Pendant Light

I’m reviewing a DIY pendant light kit for those of you who may not be ready to wire up plugs and sockets yet. This is an inexpensive ready-made kit which takes care of the electrical bits for you, and leaves you flexibility of choosing a shade and a location.

DIY Pendant Light

The kit is available on Amazon and looks like this when you receive it. This is the kit I’m using on Amazon.

It is a plug-in pendant light kit, so you don’t need to hardwire anything. It also includes a switch to turn the light on and off, and lightweight mounting hardware. The kit says it’s for paper lanterns, but it can be used for other creative options as well. The socket has a mechanical strain relief, so it can carry a shade with some weight, although no weight limit is provided by the manufacturer.

Another very handy feature of this DIY pendant light kit is that it has a shade ring. The shade ring allows you to mount a shade on the socket. You can use standard commercially available shades, or get creative.

DIY Pendant Light Kit-Unpackaged

I tried 3 different shades on the DIY pendant light kit for different looks and hopefully stimulate some creativity for your project.The light cord is 15 feet long. The switch is located 5 feet up the cord from the plug. I noticed the description on Amazon says it’s an 11 foot kit. I don’t know if they’re measuring from the switch to the socket and still off by a foot – ? I took out my tape measure, twice, and measured what I received, and it is 15 feet in total length.

DIY Pendant Light Kit Project #1

First, I wanted to use an outdoor lighting enameled metal shade I picked up at a flea market somewhere along the line. It’s weathered and rusty and real…oops, I mean, it has “great patina” :). These aren’t too difficult to find at vintage stores, flea markets, and the like. Sometimes you can find new replicas on Amazon, and you can usually find a few on Etsy.

The shade ring isn’t the same size as the shade I have, so I am using a leftover metal washer I picked up at a local hardware store and painted as an adapter. The inside of the washer fits the shade ring, and the outside of the washer is big enough to hold up the shade.

I attached the washer to the socket with the shade ring, and now I can use shades with larger openings than the shade ring would support.

DIY Pendant Light Kit and Washer

I then routed the plug end of the wire through the shade from the bottom. Pull the cord all the way through, and the shade rests on the washer held by the socket’s shade ring.

DIY Pendant Kit Enamel Shade

Here’s a look at the new light, all built in 5 minutes. It makes for a great outdoor lighting idea, simple and cheap.

DIY Pendant Light Kit Enamel Shade Complete

 

DIY Pendant Light Kit Project #2

DIY Pendant Light Kit Small Shade

I wanted to try a smaller shade which would help the Edison bulb stand out, rather than be hidden. I happened to pick up a smaller piece which I think probably came from a lantern at some time. You could use almost anything really. This wasn’t meant to be a lampshade originally, but it works. There’s a saying that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, when you want to build a light, everything looks like a light waiting to be made.

For this shade, the washer-adapter trick was needed as well. Simply thread the cord through the shade and you’re done.

My goal with this version was to make the bulb the focal point of the light. I chose a quad-loop filament for it’s interesting-ness, and a bulb of fairly large size. The shape/size of this bulb is “A23”. Here’s a link to the bulb. There are of course a myriad of filament/shape/size combinations available. Here’s a picture of the smaller shade with the bulb.

DIY Pendant Light Kit Small Shade Complete

 

DIY Pendant Light Kit Project #3

If you’d like a cleaner, more modern look you can use readily available glass lamp shades with this DIY pendant light kit. There are tons of colors and patterns available. A search for “glass 1-5/8″ fitter shades” will turn up plenty of options (link searches Amazon). I used a seeded glass shade for this, again so the Edison bulb could “shine”. Here are some other options:


 

The washer isn’t needed for the proper sized fitter shade (1-5/8 inches). Simply remove the shade ring, slip the shade on, and replace the ring. Don’t over-tighten the ring though. You want to hold the shade firmly in place, but not break the glass. Just snug is tight enough, and leaves room for minor expansion and contraction of the glass in the heat and cold.

 

 

 

Here’s the light with a seeded glass shade

DIY Pendant Light Kit Seeded Shade

Using a DIY pendant light kit makes it easy to create very different lights in minutes. It’s a simple project that’s inexpensive and practical.

 

Outdoor Light Fixtures with a Vintage Look

outdoor light fixtures

If you’re looking for outdoor light fixtures and want a classic vintage look you may find your answer here. Being fans of Edison bulbs and everything else vintage, we wanted to find options for outdoor light fixtures which kept up that old world feel. We looked through a few hundred fixtures and found those which were reasonably priced, had good customer reviews, and good construction quality. Hopefully we can save you some time by having done the legwork for you.

Wall Mounted Outdoor Light Fixtures

First up are the sconces. The first sconce we selected is from Kichler. Kichler has a great reputation and makes some really good looking light fixtures. Outdoor light fixturesThis one, from their Barrie collection, has a look of timeless elegance. It’s a classic hexagonal shape, with glass panels forming a dome above the light. There is a fancy curve over the light which suggests the look of a lantern hanging from a bracket. This light is available in black and what they call “tannery bronze” which is a brown with a patina effect. This light can use up to a 100 watt bulb. It takes one standard (medium) base bulb. It’s 15.5” high and 8” wide. The fixture is made from cast aluminum, so it’s lightweight and can stand up to the elements without rusting. Also nice is that the bottom is open, so you don’t need to disassemble anything to replace the bulb.

You can read more about these outdoor light fixtures, check the price, and see what others had to say about it – in black, in tannery bronze.

 

The second sconce we picked out is known as an onion lantern. Onion lanterns get their name from having glass globes which are onion-shaped. This one has a “seedy glass” globe, which really adds to the rustic vintage look. onion lanternIt also has the appearance of being a lantern hanging on a bracket, although the light is fixed and not actually hanging. The manufacturer, Designers Fountain, calls the finish “rustique”. As you would expect, it’s a rusty-antiqued look. The globe is surrounded by a metal cage, which could also tie it in to nautical themes such as a boathouse light. We think it would look great anywhere.

There are 2 sizes available, one with a 7 inch globe and one with a 10 inch globe. The smaller one is 14.5” tall and extends 9” from the wall. The larger one is 17.5” tall and extends 12” from the wall. Both take a single medium base bulb, up to 100 watts.

You can read more about this fixture, check the price, and see what others had to say about it – the smaller version, and the larger version.

 

Dark Sky Lighting Fixtures

Dark Sky is an initiative around the world to preserve the night sky. In short, if you’ve ever compared looking at the stars from the city to looking at the stars while camping in the middle of nowhere, then you know what the dark sky initiative is about. You can learn more about dark sky initiatives at http://darksky.org/. In some places, dark sky lighting is required by ordinance. In other places, people do it because they want to. The idea behind dark sky lighting fixtures is that they direct the light downward, and block it from going upward.

In addition to being dark sky friendly, these two light fixtures just plain look good. Both are from a manufacturer called Design House, made from formed steel, and come in an oil rubbed bronze finish. They each take one medium base bulb up to 60 watts.

dark sky lighting fixture

The first is the larger of the two. It is 12” in diameter, 10.25” high, and extends 12.25” from the wall.

The second has a simpler look to it, resembling barn lighting or farmhouse lighting. It’s 11” high, 8 3/8” wide, and extends 10.5” from the wall.

dark sky lighting fixture

Both of these lights are reasonably priced and get positive customer feedback. You can read more about these dark sky outdoor light fixtures here – the larger one (upper), and the smaller one (lower).

 

Pendant Outdoor Light Fixture

We wanted to include one pendant in the group. Pendant are good to use over the back patio or front porch if you have the height for it. This outdoor light fixture is actually a pendant version of the first pendant outdoor light fixturesconce covered above, from Kichler. It has the same hexagonal shape topped by a glass paneled dome. The finial attaches to a chain from which to hand the pendant. It measures 13.5” high and 8” in diameter. It uses a single medium base bulb up to 100 watts. It’s available in the same finishes, black and tannery bronze. If you’re looking for an outdoor pendant, it’s a great choice. If you’re looking for outdoor sconces and pendants, then it makes sense to get both version of this great looking light and keep everything matched.

You can read more about these outdoor light fixtures and check the current price here – the black version, and the tannery bronze version.

 

Streetlight Style Patio Light

One type of outdoor light fixture we ran across in our research was a floor standing ligOutdoor light fixturesht similar to a park light or old street light. We thought this would be a great option for the backyard. As we researched them, though, we discovered these types of replica lights still have some issues. Most of the issues are around quality. Since they need to be lightweight for shipping and inexpensive to make (and buy) they are made mostly from molded plastic parts, using metal only where structurally necessary. We didn’t think we were going to find one we could recommend. After some digging we found one which people seem to be generally happy with. If you’re looking for this type of outdoor light fixture, then this is the one we suggest.

The light stands at around 7 feet tall (85 inches actually). It has a 10 foot cord with a 3-prong plug to power it. It doesn’t need to be mounted anywhere, but the base is meant to be filled with sand so that it won’t blow over in a storm or be easily tipped over by pets, kids, adults, …whoever. Playground sand is readily available at your local home improvement store.

The lamp takes 4 medium base bulbs, up to 40 watts each. There is a 2-level dimming switch to adjust the brightness.

You can read all of the customer reviews and check the price on this outdoor light fixture here.

That wraps up our first take at finding reasonably priced outdoor light fixtures with a vintage or rustic look. We hope you found at least one which works for your needs.

DIY Lighting from a Hanging Planter

DIY Lighting from a Hanging Planter

Looking for a simple DIY lighting project? Creating hanging lights from a hanging planter is simple, and the look can blend with vintage, rustic, shabby chic, or industrial decors. This creative lighting project goes equally as well in the house or in the yard. Whether you’re looking for kitchen lighting ideas or outdoor lighting ideas, a wire basket light fixture fits the bill, and you can easily build this DIY lighting project.

What You Need

Everything you need for this DIY lighting project is readily available:

  • Hanging planter – I used a 14” planter, but 12” and 16” work as well. You can even find some decorative ones like this hanging planter on Amazon. Your local nursery or home improvement store has them as well.
  • One or two washers – from a hardware store. The size is important, explained below. I found that the big box home improvement stores didn’t have washers the right size, you’ll probably need to go to an actual hardware store.
  • Spray paint – to paint the washer to match your planter, brown or black most likely. Or any color, and paint both the basket and the washer.
  • A light socket with a shade ring – make sure you get one with a shade ring. This will be used to hold the basket. There’s this kit from Amazon which works. I also like this socket from Sundial Wire, but be sure to order the strain relief as well, it’s sold separately.
  • Electrical cord – Make sure you get the right length. Decide if it’s going to plug in to the wall or hang from the ceiling. I’m a big fan of cloth covered cord for vintage DIY lighting projects. I encourage you to try it, it makes a big difference. It’s available on Amazon (see our Shop page for a selection) and at the Sundial Wire site linked above. As far as bricks and mortar stores, I’ve seen it only in some specialty lighting stores, and then rarely.
  • A plug and switch – if you’re going to plug it into the wall.
  • JB Weld – If you don’t already have this as a staple in your toolbox, it should become one. It’s a 2-part mixture, like epoxy, but it’s more like liquid metal. You can do anything you want with it when it’s a paste, and when it’s dry you can treat it just like metal. It’s available at hardware stores, home improvement stores, and online.
  • A screwdriver and wire strippers

 

DIY Lighting

Socket passes through basket

Mounting the Basket to the Socket

If you look at the light socket shade ring and the hole in the bottom of the hanging planter, you’ll see that the socket and shade ring would pass right through the planter. That’s where the washer comes in. You need a washer with an outside diameter which is larger than the hole in the planter, and an inside diameter which is equal to the size of the socket and smaller than the shade ring. It sounds confusing, but it’s actually not complicated.

  • The standard light socket with a shade ring needs a 1 3/8” hole, so that’s the diameter you need for the inside of the washer.
  • The outside of the washer needs to be just bigger than the diameter of the hole in the bottom of the planter.
DIY Lighting

Finding the right washer size

 

Finding the right washer might be the most time consuming part of this DIY lighting project. An alternative is to use two washers stacked on top of each other. In this case, the bottom washer needs to fit the shade ring, and the top washer can be bigger to match the hanging planter.

Once you’ve found the right washers, paint them to match the basket. Or, you could decide to paint the basket as well, in which case you can use any color you want for both.

 

Once the paint is dry, it’s time to JB Weld the washer to the hanging basket. This will make sure the washer holds on to the basket, as the socket holds on to the washer. Just mix a pea size amount from each tube of JB Weld until you get a nice gray color. I use a wooden skewer from the kitchen to mix JB Weld on a piece of cardboard. Whatever you use to mix with and mix on, make sure it’s disposable. Put the JB Weld on the points at which the washer contacts the basket, and put the washer in place. Put some weight on it while it dries to help maintain contact.

DIY Lighting

Washer affixed to basket with JB Weld

Once your wooden skewer is permanently affixed to your cardboard, the washer is likewise permanently affixed to the basket.

 Wiring the Light

Now it’s simply a matter of wiring up the socket and attaching the socket to the basket. Thread the wire through the top of the socket shell. If your socket does not have a strain relief, tie an Underwriters knot. This will hold the weight of the basket so the wire screw terminals don’t have to. Strip the wires and connect them to the socket.

DIY Lighting

Wiring the socket

There are separate articles on how to tie an Underwriter’s knot, wire a light socket, and strip wires.

Reassemble the socket and attach the basket with the shade ring. If you are using a plug, attach that as well.

DIY Lighting

Socket mounted to basket using washer

I selected this bulb for my hanging basket DIY lighting project. I wanted a large bulb size, and decided on the quad-loop filament. This is going over the breakfast nook which is surrounded by windows to provide natural light, so I didn’t need a high wattage bulb.

DIY Lighting Project Complete

There you have it, a hanging basket DIY lighting project that was simple to make and complements many different decors. Have fun making your own, and share pictures with us.

DIY Lighting

DIY Lighting basket light complete

This is a project you can vary to fit your own resources & taste. You can use any type of basket, not just hanging planters. Here are a few different looks I’ve seen using basket lights.

 

Outdoor String Lights for Summer Fun

Outdoor String Lights

Outdoor string lights
Outdoor string lights are a great way to spruce up your backyard patio for some quality outdoor time this Summer. You’ve probably seen the outdoor light strings of simple bulbs hanging from a wire at restaurants and shopping centers. They add a great atmosphere to outdoor space. In some cases it’s soft and romantic, in some cases it looks like a party, depending on the rest of the décor. Whatever impact you’re after, adding some outdoor light strings will really make a difference.

Along the Patio Roof

You can string the lights up in a variety of ways. If you have a backyard patio with a roof over it you can simply string them along the perimeter of the roof. You can put them up in a straight line around the eave for a clean, more formal look. You can also decide to allow some sag between mounting points for a relaxed informal look. For this type of mounting, I suggest using wire clips. You can get them in black or white, nail-in or screw-in, and even adhesive-backed if you believe that will stay stuck in your environment. I don’t recommend simply using a staple gun to staple around the wire. I’ve pierced many light strings doing this, which creates shorts.

Radiating From a Central Point

Another hanging option for outdoor string lights is to pick a center point and string them from that point out and down. Your center point could be simply the center of the patio ceiling, or a pole in the yard if you can come up with one. This ends up looking like the roof of a carousel or gazebo. In this case, you’ll want multiple outdoor light strings. Each string can go from the bottom, through the center point, and down the other side. You’ll need half as many light strings as you want to have total strings. You’ll probably want at least 4 sets outdoor string lights for this, from overhead they would be arranged in an octagonal shape.

Hanging Outdoor String Lights Between Buildings

If you have a separate garage, an outdoor shed, or other structure, you can string lights from building to building. This creates overhead lighting for a great get-together area underneath, perfect over a table or even just a couple of chairs. If the distance is relatively short, you can simply attach the outdoor string lights from one building to another. If the distance is about 20 feet or longer, I suggest stringing a wire cable from building to building, and then hanging the light string from the cable with zip ties. At longer distances there’s more weight on the light string which means it’s being pulled from each end. This can stretch and damage the light string. It’s better to have the cable take the stress and let the light string hang. Hanging the cable is pretty straightforward. Just screw a cable eye into each endpoint, run some small gauge wire cable through each eye, looping it back about a foot on each end. Attach cable tie connectors at each end, pulling the cable tight for the second end. Your outdoor string lights will last a lot longer this way.

 Shopping for Outdoor String Lights

You have a lot of options when it comes to outdoor string lights, here’s what to consider.

  • Length – Obviously you need the string to be long enough. Some strings allow you to connect multiple strings end-to-end for more length, and some don’t, so that’s something to look for.
  • Outdoor Rated – Make sure you use outdoor light strings outdoors. If they don’t say they are for outdoors, they are probably rated for indoor use only. They won’t stand up to the weather, and they may short out in the rain. On the topic of safety, use a UL listed product, and plug them into a GFI outlet. All of your outdoor outlets should already be on a GFI circuit.
  • Number of Sockets/Bulbs – The spacing of the lights on the string differs from string to string. You’ll probably want a bulb at least every 2 feet on shorter strings, 3 feet on long strings.
  • Type of Bulbs – Some strings come with bulbs, some don’t. Those that do offer a variety of bulbs. You can get clear glass bulbs in many shapes, and you can get novelty lights like reindeer or shotgun shells. It’s completely a matter of taste.

I recommend this outdoor light string on Amazon. It’s 48 feet long, and there are 2 bulb options, or you can order with no bulb. It does allow you to connect up to 4 in a row. It’s UL listed and outdoor rated.

Whatever you decide, you’ll be happy with the result. Invite some friends over, or keep it to someone special, and enjoy the evening under your new outdoor string lights.

Compare Before You Buy Edison Bulbs

Compare Edison Light Bulbs

Introducing Bulb-O-Matic

Bulb-O-Matic - Buy Edison Bulbs

Buying Edison bulbs can be confusing. It’s hard to choose the right one for the job. There are different base sizes, different bulb shapes, and different filament designs. Also, it’s hard to predict the brightness of an Edison bulb.

Bulb-O-Matic is the answer. Bulb-O-Matic makes Edison bulb comparison shopping easy. Bulb-O-Matic has researched all the vintage bulb manufacturer sites and collected all the data. All you need to do is specify the size of the bulb base you need, and select the light bulb shapes you are interested in. Push a button and Bulb-O-Matic does the rest. Bulb-O-Matic will show you bulbs which fit your criteria. Bulb-O-Matic will give you other useful information like how many lumens the bulb produces, and what the rated life of the bulb is.

Bulb-O-Matic wants you to buy the right Edison bulb. Bulb-O-Matic is free. Bulb-O-Matic makes it easy and fun. If you want to buy Edison bulbs, Bulb-O-Matic is for you.

Lantern Light – Simple Vintage DIY Lighting

Lantern Light

I’ve always wanted to use a vintage railroad lantern to make a lantern light. I’ve been searching for a good candidate lantern at a great price for some time. Unexpectedly, I recently had the opportunity to fix a lantern light for a family member who had built it decades ago. The light bulb isn’t visible in the finished project, so you don’t need an Edison bulb, but it’s a great vintage lantern light and it’s so super-simple I wanted to share it here.

Here’s the lantern. Lantern Light It has two sides which the light shines through. One is a plastic panel which I assume was put there to replace an original piece of glass. This gives off a diffused general area light. The second is the original glass lens which is very thick. This provides a focused spotlight effect, as well as a little ambient light.

Simple Tools

The only tools and supplies I needed for this were a rivet gun with a couple of rivets, a drill, a pair of pliers, wire strippers, and a couple of wire nuts. All cheap, and mostly on-hand. I did have to buy a rivet gun and rivets. In researching rivet guns, I found the criteria for me were one that was well built enough to last, and had heads for multiple sizes rivets. This rivet gun from Amazon fit those criteria. Pick an assortment of rivets like these as well. The tool is inexpensive and rivets are easy to use, so there’s one more tool in my toolkit.

Refurbishing the Lantern Light

The side of the lantern light with the panel opens, and a metal tray slides out. This is where the original light source sat. I’m not sure if it was simply a candle or a more sophisticated kerosene burner of some type.

Lantern Light OpenAs you can see, a candelabra light bulb base is now attached to the tray. The one in the light when I got it was defective due to age. I replaced it with the one in the picture, which is identical to the one which was there before. The new candelabra base came with a straight post on it. I used the pliers to make a 90 degree bend in the post at the same point as was on the original one. I then drilled out the original rivets so I could remove the original base. I drilled two new holes in the new base and riveted it to the metal tray. It was important to use two rivets, because using just one would have allowed the base to rotate on the tray.

The bulb base may come with two wires affixed to it. On the lantern light, a hole had been punched in the side and a simple plastic electrical cord routed through it. I would have used a cloth covered cord, but in this case it’s not my light so I left it as is. Another concern I had was the sharp edges of the hole in the metal could cut through the cord, causing a short. When you route a cord through a hole, you need to think about possible wear on the cord. Using a rubber grommet, a few cents from the hardware store, is a wise idea. Another consideration is strain relief. If this gets carried around by the cord, there’s nothing keeping the cord from pulling right out of the lantern light. In this case, a simple knot tied in the cord inside the lantern seemed appropriate. It wouldn’t pass UL testing, but it’s better than nothing.

Once the power cord and bulb base are in place, it’s a matter of stripping the wires and connecting them with the wire nuts. Identify the neutral wire The neutral wire in the power cord is indicated with a ridge on the insulation of that wire, and attaches to the white wire or outer ring of the socket.

Completing the Lantern Light

With everything connected, I slid the tray back into the lantern and replaced the bulb. The original bulb had a Sears brand name on it. I’m not sure if you can even buy Sears branded light bulbs anymore. It was burned out anyway, probably by the bad socket. I used a clear flame tip bulb like this one. A torpedo bulb like this would have been more appropriate, but flame tip is what I had on hand. When putting a light bulb in an enclosed space like this lantern light, you need to think about heat when you decide on a wattage. Lantern Light VentilationIn this case, the lantern is already ventilated around the top and was designed and built to have some high heat source in it. I used a 25 watt bulb, which it turns out produces plenty of light in this case, and the lantern doesn’t get too hot to touch.

Here are a few pictures of the newly refurbished lantern light all lit up.

Lantern Light Complete

If you’ve made a lantern light, I would love to hear about it and see some pictures.

Pendant Light – 3 Options Under $50 With a Vintage Feel

Pendant Light 3 Under 50

A new pendant light can do a lot to change the look of a room. If you’re not ready for a full design overhaul a new pendant light is a good place to start. It’s simple to do, it should take less than an hour. And it can be an inexpensive way to start “trying on” a larger décor change.

Here are 3 pendant light options for under $50 which you can be using in your home this week.

Pendant Light 1
Pendant light

This is by far the easiest option to install. If you have recessed (also known as “can”) lighting in your kitchen or office/den, this is a good option. This pendant light actually screws into your existing recessed light. Simply remove your existing bulb and the cord for this light screws right in its place. It comes with a canopy which covers the existing fixture to complete the look. This should take you literally 10 minutes to install, no tools needed. Very clever.

The drop height is adjustable from 8 inches to 4 feet from the ceiling. The light simply hangs from a cord, which you can wrap up under the canopy on a supplied bracket to get the right height for you.

The shade is a hammered copper finish. Antiqued copper is good because it’s a little bit “soft” and a little bit “industrial”. It goes well with concrete, granite, and wood. The interior of the shade is white to help reflect the maximum amount of light downward.

The light supports up to a 75 watt bulb. There are 2 in the picture above, they are sold individually.

You can check the price or buy the light here. For this option, the shipping will likely put you just over the $50 mark, but it’s such a substantial light, and a great solution for updating recessed lighting, I wanted to include it. If you try it, send us some pictures so we can share.

Pendant Light 2
pendant light

If you’re looking for something simple and mid-sized, this large mason jar pendant light is for you.

This pendant light requires no electrical installation. It has a plug and an on/off switch so you can use it anywhere.

One feature I really like is that has a cloth covered cord. Nothing mars the impact of an attempt at vintage like using a modern plastic-sheathed cord.  The cord is 15½ feet long. If you have 8 foot ceilings that gives you a lot of leeway in mounting locations. If you have 10 or 12 foot ceilings, or vaulted ceilings, plugging it into a wall outlet might mean you need to plan ahead. You could use a socket-to-outlet adapter which converts an existing ceiling light socket into an outlet. They’re cheap and handy.

Another feature I like is that this isn’t your typical mason jar pendant light. First, it’s not a quart jar, as are most. It’s a half-gallon mason jar.  It’s 11¼ inches tall (nearly a foot), and 4½ inches in diameter. The jar has raised lettering, and is clear to help show off the bulb.

One last feature of this light is that it is well-ventilated. I know that’s not a design consideration and is often overlooked, but heat can be a real hazard. The bottom of the mason jar is open, cleanly cut, which is difficult to do yourself. Also, the top of the fixture has ventilation holes to allow heat to escape.

At current prices when this was posted, you can buy a great Edison bulb to showcase in this light and still stay under the $50 limit. Here’s a 40 watt option with a Squirrel Cage filamentedison bulb which  produces 135 lumens.
edison bulb

And here’s a 60 watt option with a quad-loop filament design which produces a brighter 200 lumens.
edison bulbedison bulb

Both options allow you to stay under the $50 limit. You can check the current price or buy the Half Gallon Open Bottom Mason Jar Pendant Lamp heremason jar pendant light

 Pendant Light 3

pendant lightpendant light

This pendant light option provides 3 lights over a space of about 2 feet. The canopy itself is actually 23½ inches long. It’s a great option over an island, breakfast bar, or a work surface.

This light does mount to a standard junction box, it doesn’t screw into an existing fixture or plug into a wall. We have an article on replacing an existing light fixture, it’s easy to do and we’ll walk you through it. You can have this mounted in less than hour.

The lights hang by the cords rather than rods, so the length is adjustable. The longest they can be adjusted to is 50 inches, or just over 4 feet. That should be sufficient for most locations.

The 3 sockets accept standard base bulbs, so you have lots of options.  You can stay under the $50 limit with 3 of these 40 watt Edison bulbs with squirrel cage filamentedison bulb.
Edison bulb with squirrel cage filamentpendant light edison bulb

The sockets also have mounting rings for standard 2¼ inch fitter glass shadespendant glass shades if you would like to add shades. We couldn’t find any which would stay under the $50 for 3 of them, but they’re not much more if you want them.

You can check the price and buy the 3-Light bronze mini pendant light herependant light.

There you have it, 3 pendant light options that fit into a vintage decor for under fifty dollars. All of which you can have and be using in your house within days or a week. Hopefully you found one which appeals to you. Send us a picture of one of these pendant light options in your home, we would be happy to share it with others to provide some inspiration.

Building a Simple Edison Bulb Pendant Light

DIY Pendant Light Kit

Creating your own Edison bulb pendant light is simple, inexpensive, and adds flair to your decor. All you really need is a pendant light kit and an Edison bulb.

Pendant Light Kits

First, look for a pendant light kit which meets the needs of your application. Here’s a list of things to consider when buying a pendant light kit:

  • Will this light fixture be wired into an existing ceiling electrical connection, or do you need a kit with a plug so you can use an outlet instead?
  • If you are using a plug, do you want an on/off switch in the cord, an on/off switch at the light socket, or are you using an outlet which is already on a switch?
  • Are you going to have the bare Edison bulb hanging from the socket, or do you need a socket on which you can mount a shade?
  • What color of cord will work best?
  • Do you want a simple cord, or do you want to add some flair with pulleys, a mason jar, or use a chain for hanging?
  • Make sure the light socket is the same as the bulb base you want to use (standard base, candelabra base, etc.)

Here are a few kits that work for a few different conditions:

This Pendant Lamp Kit uses a plug, and has a switch in the socket itself. It comes with the necessary hardware for hanging and adjusting the cord length. A really nice touch is that the cord is two-conductor twisted cloth covered electrical wire. That really adds to the vintage feel.

By contrast, this pendant light fixture is for hardwiring into an existing electrical junction box (It’s simple to do, see our article on Replacing a Existing Light Fixture). It comes in two color choices. It does not allow for adding a shade, opting for a clean streamlined look instead.

Here’s a hardwired pendant kit which does allow you to add your own shade. Although the picture shows white, it is available in an oil-rubbed bronze finish.

There are also kits which come with mason jar lids so you can create your own mason jar pendant light. When looking at mason jar kits, look for ventilation holes as there are in these. Here are 2 different finish options:

Dark

Galvanized

Note that in these kits, the mason jar itself isn’t included. If you don’t have any extras, they’re pretty inexpensive and readily available:

…and you can even get vintage colors…

Be sure to get the Quart size or larger, not the pint. Make sure both the kit and the jar match in mouth size, there are wide mouth and regular mouth kits and jars.

Another option is to add a simple wire cage instead, for a more industrial look. This one is easily attached to most sockets:

Edison Bulbs

Once you have selected the kit for your Edison bulb pendant light, choose the right bulb to match. Some points to consider:

  • Make sure the socket in the kit is the same size as the base of the bulb you are going to use. (We have separated Standard Base Edison Bulbs and Candelabra Bulbs in our Shopping pages to make this easier – or try Bulb-O-Matic to help you compare Edison bulbs)
  • Select a bulb shape which makes sense with the kit from a design perspective. If you selected the streamlined kit above use an elongated bulb, don’t try to fit a globe shape bulb into a mason jar, that sort of thing.
  • Think about heat – if the bulb is enclosed in a mason jar, or if you are using a combustible shade like paper, use lower wattage bulbs.
  • Look at different filament designs. For Edison bulb pendant lights, the filament design is an important part of the look.

Here’s a good streamlined bulb

Here’s an interesting Quad-Loop filament design with smoked glass

Here’s a candelabra base with an interesting filament

That’s all there is to it! The ready-made kits make creating your own Edison bulb pendant light very simple. Have fun doing it – and we would love to see pictures of your finished project! Let us know when your project is complete and we can share it here.

Building an Ox Yoke Light from Found Vintage Materials

Ox Yoke Light

This simple project is built mostly from materials picked up at antique stores and flea markets. It makes a great light over a sink, dining table, or backyard island. It’s easy to put together and adds a very cool vintage touch to the atmosphere.
Ox Yoke LightAs I was browsing through antique stores, I started to notice a number of old yokes, like those pulled by an ox, horse, or donkey in farming work. They’re built using metal hardware and wooden bodies. The metal usually has a nice rusty patina and the wood is weathered by time. I can’t imagine how hard it was to farm with these. Maybe that’s where the saying “a tough row to hoe” came from? I can imagine, however, a great light fixture using one of these.

So the first piece you need for your ox yoke light is – an ox yoke. Or any yoke, it doesn’t matter who pulled it in it’s previous life.

Hanging bare bulbs from the end of the yoke would work, but I thought the piece needed something to make it more substantial. I wanted it to be prominent, and not just be invisible in the scene and provide light. Another object from the past I really like is the old enamel gas station outdoor light shade. These represent the attention to detail which has largely disappeared from modern Vintage Light Shadeworkmanship. Modern outdoor lights have cages, or nothing aside from the housing and lens for the light bulb. Back in the day, I guess they decided a light should look like a light, and they spent the extra time and money to make it look like one by adding an enameled metal shade. It’s both functional in reflecting the light downward, and a design element.
I decided to add a couple of these old outdoor enamel light shades to the project. They add some color, and some mass. They transform this project from a fragile looking bulb-on-a-wire to a serious light fixture. If you’re too busy or can’t find these, you can sometimes buy replica porcelain enamel shades in blackvintage light shade and greenvintage light shade on Amazon. If they don’t have them when you’re looking, you can try a search for vintage outdoor light shade to find something which will work.

For safety reasons, I generally don’t use vintage electrical parts. I use replicas which are manufactured with modern safety concerns in mind. Old wires with frayed insulation, and light sockets which are heavily oxidized can cause sparks, and sparks can start fires. I highly recommend using new electrical parts in your lighting projects. You can find ones made to look vintage so you don’t have to use some tacky white extension cord or new brass colored light sockets to mar your project’s appearance.

Since the wires would be visible on this project, I decided on red twisted pair wire. If it’s going to be visible, it made sense to make it a design element. The particular yoke I used had some red paint on it, beneath a layer of green paint. The red wire would tie in well with the red in the yoke. A brown wire would work as well, but I thought it may come off as a poor attempt at a camouflage job. You can buy 25 foot lengths of twisted pair cloth covered electrical wire in Blackblack cloth covered electrical wire, Redred cloth covered electrical wire, and Brownbrown cloth covered electrical wire.

If twisted pair isn’t your style, there’s round blackblack cloth covered electrical wire and Black and White Zig Zag / Chevroncloth covered electrical wire wire in 25 foot lengths as well.

Aside from wires, I purchased light socketslight sockets which were large enough that they would not pass through the holes in the tops of the shades. The socket itself will hold the shade up.

Finally, since my version of this is a hardwired fixture, I bought a canopy kitlight canopy kit for the ceiling, and a chainlight swag chain and swag hookslight swag hooks to hang it with.

YokeLight7To assemble the fixture I simply wired up the sockets (How to wire sockets), and ran the wire through the shades. Then I wrapped each wire on each end of the yoke so that it would support the shade and socket. I routed the wire around the yoke and through the center ring. The fixture is ready to hang.
YokeLight5To hang it, simply attach the chain to the yoke’s center ring and to a hook mounted in the ceiling near the electrical junction box. Route the wires through the canopy cover. Connect both neutral wires (one from each light) to the neutral wire from the junction box, and likewise with the hot wire. Attach the canopy to the box, and installation is complete.
To make a plug version of the same light, you need longer wire as it has to reach from the ceiling to the floor and then to the nearest outlet. Aside from longer wire and a plug, everything else is the same.
Now, it needs bulbs. The fixture is big enough, it needs some bulky bulbs, so I decided to go with 60 watt globe shaped Edison bulbsglobe edison bulbs.

All in, this project takes maybe an hour after you’ve got the materials and makes a huge and lasting difference in your decor.

Ox Yoke LightOx Yoke LightOx Yoke Light

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