Skip to content

Monday Makings – Lamp Lesson

May 11, 2009


If you are having a difficult time finding the perfect lamp for your room, make one! You can create a lamp out of almost anything using a lamp kit. Bottles, candlesticks, boxes or books can make a lamp that will quickly become the main topic of conversation. Assemble and finish the base and its components according to your taste. If you are using craft boxes, try using different techniques like decoupage, collage, altered art, stamping, acrylic paint – another option is to use a coordinating fabric to the lampshade. Just be creative and have fun!


  • Drill and 3/8″ drill bit
  • Sharp utility knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Safety Glasses
  • Hacksaw


  • Lamp base
  • Lamp kit (Lamp cord with plug attached, lamp socket, neck, tension harp)
  • Lamp rod
  • Nut and bolt to fit lamp rod
  • Lampshade for a tension harp

Standard lamp kits contain a harp, cord set, switched socket, finial and hardware. Additional lighting hardware items may be purchased separately. A lamp kit’s contents will vary based on manufacturer. The following is a basic overview of assembly. Once you’ve chosen and prepared your base, use the following information to assemble your lamp. Make sure the base you’ve chosen is sturdy and well-assembled. Install and use your finished project according to your local electrical codes and regulations.

  1. Drill a hole through the center of the base to accommodate the lamp rod and cord. Use a 3/8″ drill bit that is appropriate for the base material.
  2. Measure and cut the lamp rod to the right length using a hacksaw. The top of the rod should extend approximately 1/2″ above the top of the lamp base.
  3. Slide the lamp rod through the hole in the lamp base, holding it in place at the bottom with a washer and nut. Countersink the washer and nut to make the base flat. If you cannot countersink the washer and nut, simply add feet to your lamp base.
  4. Thread the lamp cord through the lamp rod from the bottom of the lamp base and through the top, leaving the plug end of the cord extending from the bottom of the base.
  5. Screw the locknut onto the lamp rod. Pull the lamp cord through at least 3″.
  6. Screw the neck, with the largest end down, onto the lamp rod.
  7. Slide the harp bottom onto the lamp rod.
  8. Thread the socket cap onto the rod and tighten it.

Underwriter’s Knot  

  1. Pull the cord apart about 2″. Use a sharp knife or wire stripper to remove about 1/2″ of the insulation from each wire. Do not cut into the wire.
  2. Tie an underwriter’s knot (see example below) in the end of the cord to prevent it from being pulled back through the lamp rod. Hold the lamp cord so it forms a Y. Following the shape of the Y, make a loop of each end of the wire, holding the end of one loop in front of the joined cord and the end of the other loop at the back of the joined cord. Slip each end through the loop formed by the opposing wire and tighten the knot. Pull on the plug end of the lamp cord at the base of the lamp so that the knot fits against the socket cap.  

  3. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to find the hot and neutral wire. (The neutral wire often has ribbing on it.) Connect the neutral wire to the silver screw on the socket. Connect the hot wire to the gold screw. Tighten the terminal screws, making sure all of the wires are under the screw head.
  4. Place the socket shell with the paper insulated liner over the lamp socket. Pull the cord back into the lamp and snap the socket shell on the cap. Listen for clicks to be sure that the shell is locked in place.
  5. Raise the sleeves on the harp and gently squeeze the harp while inserting it into the harp bottom. Lower the sleeves to secure the harp.
  6. Add a shade to complete your new lamp.


Materials Needed:  

  • 8-10″ Lampshade form, either one you are reusing, or a new one. TIP: If it is one you are redoing, I personally like to remove the existing covering and trim, taking it down to the bare styrene. (See example below.)
  • Approximately 1/2 Yd Fabric
  • Spray Adhesive
  • Craft Glue
  1. To make a pattern, trace the shape of the lampshade on to paper by drawing a straight line on the paper to use as your starting point. TIP: I like to use freezer paper for my patterns. You can use parchment, but it is pretty thin. Then roll the shade slowly from this line around, tracing the bottom edge. Re-roll the shade over the bottom edge and trace the top edge. Cut the paper out and make sure it fits. See pattern example below. TIP: I save my patterns – I have an entire box of them!
  2. You can trace the paper pattern on to the wrong side of the fabric and cut out 1″ larger on all sides, or TIP: do as I do, just put the fabric onto a self-healing mat, then cut around the pattern using a rotary cutter. I do try to be pretty exact, as I find it difficult to trim nicely once the fabric is on the shade form.
  3. Spray the shade with the spray adhesive. Place the wrong side of the fabric on the shade starting at the seam. Press the fabric around the shade smoothing out any wrinkles as you go. Work quickly as the adhesive dries fast! TIP: I do this a section at a time.
  4. Trim the excess off the back where the seams meet leaving 1/2″ to fold and glue over other side.
  5. T rim the top and bottom fabric on the shade about 3/4″ from the wire edge. Place a thin layer of glue around the inside wire of the shade and glue the raw edges over the wire to the inside, folding to create a neat, finished edge.
  6. Embellish with gimp, beading, flowers, shells – whatever suits your tastes.

  Pattern Example

Below: I know it’s only May, but you know how the cobbler’s kids run barefoot?  Well, the shade lady has none of her own work in her home to use as an example, except one item and it’s from Christmas.  Anyway, here is a 30 year old lampshade that was stark white and didn’t suit my home at all. I peeled off the pleated fabric to find the styrene was “fryable” – cracking easily and falling apart. As I was decorating for Christmas and had company coming in a couple of days – I punted! There was no time to order a custom form and start over. So, I took magazine clippings, stamps, cards, tissue, sparkles, gold foil – just whatever felt right, and I made a collage shade. I used Golden’s Matte Gel, and sealed it with a spray sealer. The trim is a tiny holiday sparkly confection (I do have this available for your holiday projects) that I paired with a wide, flat braided gimp in cheery red. Pictures do not do this work justice, it is charming, personal, warm, and turned out perfect for our holiday decor!  



Holiday Nugget Trim


Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2009 9:27 am

    Great tutorial!

  2. May 11, 2009 8:23 pm

    How nice for you to show how to make a lamp, it is so useful when decorating a new room. Thanks for sharing!

  3. May 12, 2009 4:42 pm

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today. SITS, or The Secret Is In The Sauce is a community of bloggers who support each other with comments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: