Thursday, 7 April 2016

Industrial style lamps...

In this (long) post I will be turning two lamps into two lamps, which may sound counter productive, but bare with me, you can skip to the end of this post for the finished lamps and a short video of them working.

We have had two bedside lamps for many many years and to be honest they have become a bit tatty and they aren't in the best shape any more, so I decided to recycle them into something a little more to our liking, all I bought for this project was the two vintage look bulbs and the large chunk of Oak (which I got cheap) everything else I already had.

One of the old lamps (I'd already cannibalised the other one) -

Seen better days.

I could have just bought some cable and a switch, but these lamps are touch lamps, the ones that have four settings (dim, bright, argh! my eyes and who turned out the lights?) and as we wanted to keep this feature I took the guts out of the lamps and basically made some new bases out of wood.

Wood for bases - 

Home made Lady Rainicorn for scale.

The wood is four foot of air dried English Oak (around 5 inches by 4 inches) that I got for £10 from gumtree, I cut two sections (both around 8 inches long) out of the wood, which has a few flaws in the way of checks and shakes, but it is a lovely bit of wood.

Bases ready for processing - 

Centres & mark for where bulb holder will go.

Firstly I routed out the top of each block with a round over bit, I had thought I'd just leave them as blocks, but I prefer the rounded look.

Have bit, will route - 

I used the largest one I had.

Top routed - 

Better than plain.

Next I had to hollow out the wood so that I could fit the electrics into the bases, this was easier said than done, it seems my ageing router doesn't like Oak very much, well it is nearly twenty years old now, but it got there in the end.

Marked for routing - 

Time to hollow it out, might have to fill those cracks.

Routing begins, I used a router guide first, then did the rest by eye - 

I hollowed out about an inch and half in depth.

Once I'd hollowed out the block (to about an inch and half in depth) I then went round the edge again using a router guide to create a recess so that I could cover the electrics with a thin piece of plywood.

Recess done - 

Not the neatest job, but it will all be covered with green felt.

Next the hole for the bulb holder, I'm using different bulb holders for the new lamps, so a standard bayonet fitting rather than the small Edison screw that the old lamps had, because the ones I had lying about where cone shaped I had to first cut a hole then make it slightly cone shaped so that the bulb holder sat nicely inside, I used a 35mm forstner bit in my post drill to cut the hole.

Hole cut, on to making it a better fit for the bulb holder - 

It took a while to get all the way through.

To make the hole a better fit for the bulb holder I used a sanding drum in my post drill and basically sanded out the first half an inch of the hole so that the widest part of the bulb holder fit snuggly inside, I haven't used any glue to fix it.

Sanding for a better fit - 

Not very accurate, but it works.

Hole sanded out - 

Difficult to so, but it is slightly bigger now.

Checking bulb holder for fit, fit is good, onwards - 

Bonus, that worked well.

Mains cable exit drilled - 

I'll be using cable clamps as well.

Now for the metal plate that will act as a switch for the lamps, the old ones were all metal and as such you could touch them any where and they'd turn on and off, with these lamps I've made a copper disc that acts as the switch.

So on the opposite end of the lamp base I cut out a hole using a 44 mm forstner bit, the idea being that the copper disc will sit inside this hole snuggly and will be connected to the control module.

Hole for switch done, slight mistake needs sorting - 

That'll take some sanding.

As I went to cut the hole the wood moved and I snagged the edge, so I cut the hole a little deeper and sanded the top until the mark was gone, which took a while even with a belt sander, once that was done I cut a thin bit of plywood to fit into the base to cover the electrics.

Plywood cut - 

Should hold things in place.

Both bases done, now for some power - 

You can see what they'll look like.

For the switches I cut two discs of copper and polished them up - 

Need a bit of tidying up.

Tidied and polished (using a buffing wheel) - 


Right time to cram the gubbins into the base, this was easy as I'd basically just taken the guts out of the old lamps and stuck them in the new bases, you can buy these touch lamp modules online for a few pounds, they are easy to wire and most will come with instructions.

Electrics in place - 

Plenty of room.

As this type of touch lamp module works using capacitance I had to make sure that the yellow wire from the module was poking through the hole I'd made in the base, the idea is that the wire sits under the copper disc and when you tough the disc the light turns on, dims and such like, because the disc is a tight fit it clamps the wire very well and makes a good contact, I could have soldered the wire to the underside of the disc, but it's not needed.

Last few things to finish up, I cut pieces of green felt for the bases, this covers the plywood and my shoddy routeing and also stops the lamps scratching the bedside tables, and I took the cable clamps of the old lamps and used them on the new ones so there's no danger of the wiring being pulled out.

Felt ready for gluing onto the base - 

Green goes well with the Oak.

Re-used cable clamps, which I glued into the wood for extra hold - 

Better safe than sorry.
And that's it, not much to them really as I've re-used the old lamps electrics, and with the bits left over from the old lamps and what I have in my supplies I can make two new lamps and two candle sticks, so really I'm making four new lamps and two candle sticks from two old lamps, it's better than sending them to landfill.

Finished lamps (with vintage look bulbs) - 

I think they turned out well.

Here's a video of them working - 

And when it's dark they look like two exclamation marks - 

It wasn't planned honest.

Thanks for reading.

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