Skip to main content

How to Build a Lamp

Why buy a boring old lamp when you can make a unique one yourself?


  • Step 1: Buy a lamp-making kit Buy a lamp-making kit. It will supply everything you need except the base and the shade.
  • Step 2: Choose or build your base Find an interesting object to serve as the base, or build your own. Be sure it’s sturdy enough to support your lampshade and hold the rod straight. If you choose a hard base, you may need to drill a hole for the lamp rod.
  • TIP: Choose or construct a base that fits your lamp rod, so you won’t have to saw the rod down to size.
  • Step 3: Install the lamp rod Push the lamp rod into the base so it's sticking out a bit at the bottom. Slide on a washer, and screw on a nut to hold the rod in place.
  • Step 4: Level the bottom Use a hammer and chisel, or a sharp knife, to trim the area around the washer and nut so they can be sunk into the base, making the bottom of the lamp flat. You may want to wear protective goggles for safety.
  • TIP: If you don’t want to carve into your base to sink the washer and nut, add rubber feet or felt pads so the lamp won’t wobble.
  • Step 5: Thread the lamp cord Thread the cord of the lamp through the bottom of the lamp rod up to the top. Make sure that the end with the plug is coming out of the bottom, and that it’s not rubbing against the rod’s sharp edge.
  • TIP: Tape the wire ends together so that they slide smoothly through the rod.
  • Step 6: Attach the locknut and neck On the top of the lamp rod, screw on the locknut and make sure the cord is sticking out at least three inches. Next, with the larger side down, screw the neck onto the lamp rod.
  • Step 7: Attach the harp bottom and socket cap Slide the harp bottom onto the lamp rod with the open end facing up. Do the same thing with the socket cap, and make sure it is securely tightened.
  • Step 8: Prepare the cord Pull the two ends of the cord about two inches apart. Use your wire strippers to strip the insulation off the cord, until about a half inch of bare wire is exposed.
  • Step 9: Tie the wires Tie the ends of the wires in an underwriter’s knot. Make a 'Y,' then curl the wires down and back toward each other, and pull the ends through the resulting loops. This prevents the wire from falling back through the lamp rod.
  • Step 10: Connect the wires Determine which is the "hot" wire and which is the "neutral" wire. Generally, the neutral wire is ribbed, but refer to the manufacturer’s guide to be sure. Securely wrap the neutral wire around the silver screw on the bulb socket and the hot wire around the gold screw.
  • Step 11: Tighten the screws Tighten the screws and make sure the wires are tightly attached beneath them.
  • Step 12: Attach the socket shell and harp Place the socket shell over the bulb socket, and tuck the cords inside so they won’t be visible. Squeezing the ends of the harp and slide them into the slots of the harp bottom.
  • Step 13: Attach the lampshade Once the harp is on, place your chosen lampshade on top and—ta-da!—let there be light!
  • FACT: In 1880, Thomas Edison was granted a patent for his incandescent lamp.

You Will Need

  • A lamp-making kit
  • A lamp base
  • A hammer and chisel
  • or a sharp knife
  • Wire strippers
  • A lampshade
  • A drill
  • Safety goggles
  • Rubber feet or felt pads

Popular Categories