Introduction: DIY Recycled Desk Lamp

Picture of DIY Recycled Desk Lamp
  • This entirely Recycled Desk Lamp makes a statement by transforming discarded materials into something purposeful, making it simple to recreate this lamp without spending a dime. Taking spare parts from discarded electronics and lamps is both affordable and good for the environment so try and spend as little as possible when replicating this lamp.

The average lamp consists of three main parts; a bulb, a cord, a base, and a shade. The following instructions are a guide to assembling each of these parts. Please read through the entire instruction and gather all materials before beginning any assembly. Here is a complete list of materials in order by step:

Step 1: Wiring the socket

  • A cord to plug into the wall or outlet
  • A socket to house your bulb
  • A bulb that fits your socket
  • Electrical tape
  • An Xacto knife

Step 2: Making the base

  • Wood of your choice
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Sandpaper
  • Access to a band saw

Step 3: Making the house for your bulb

  • Wood of your choice
  • Wood glue
  • Wooden skewers or dowels
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill
  • Access to a band saw
  • Access to a scroll saw

Step 4: Completing the base

  • None

Step 5: Fabricating the shade

  • Dust/breathing mask
  • Eye protection
  • Heat resistant gloves
  • Med to low temp embossing/heat gun
  • Plastic bags
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
  • Tweezers
  • Metal bowl (This will be the size/shape of the shade)

Step 1: Wiring the Socket

Picture of Wiring the Socket

To wire the lamp use a pre-wired lamp kit, or a DIY lamp kit easily found at any hardware store or recycled from found spare parts. If a pre-wired cord and socket are not an option, or when using a lamp kit which needs to be assembled then pleaseread the following instructions carefully.

Materials needed:

  • A cord to plug into the wall or outlet
  • A socket to house your bulb
  • A bulb that fits your socket
  • Electrical tape
  • An Xacto knife

VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure any electrical device being worked on is not connected to electricity. Turn off the circuit breaker, remove the fuse, or unplug the device before starting. If you have any questions about the safety of what you are doing, please contact an electrician rather than doing the job yourself.

  • Make a 1" vertical cut along the outside of the cord. Strip the plastic off the ends of the wire for the cord, and the socket if needed. See images 1-2.
    • A wire stripper is the best tool for this because it doesn’t cut the copper, just the insulating plastic around the copper. Make sure to use the slot in the stripper that matches the gauge of the wire being stripped.
  • Twist the exposed end of the neutral wire so that the strands of copper are firmly twisted together. See the chart in image 3 for which wire is hot and which is neutral.
  • Make a little hook out of the ends of the wires.
  • If you are attaching your cord to a socket with screw connectors: Put the hook of the neutral wire over the silver screw in the socket, with the hook going clockwise around the screw, then tighten the screw. Do the same with the hot wire and the gold screw.
  • If you are attaching your cord to a socket with wire connectors: Hook the end of the neutral wire of the cord to the neutral wire of the socket. Do the same with the hot wires. See image 4.
  • It is important when wiring, that the neutral and hot wires do NOT touch. If needed wrap any exposed wire in electrical tape being sure to keep neutral and hot wires separated.
  • To test your connections lay your wired socket on the ground with your bulb screwed in. Use caution when plugging in your assembled socket and step back. If your bulb lights up you are ready to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Making the Base

Picture of Making the Base

The base of the lamp will consist of two main parts; a half ring, and a leg. The size and proportions of the ring and leg are determined by the artist.

Materials needed:

  • Wood of your choice
  • Wooden dowel or skewer
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Access to a band saw
  • Sandpaper

Since the goal is to make a lamp on a budget, I used some scrapped plywood from the shop. If there is no access to any wood scraps large enough, recycle from old furniture or purchase a few planks from the store. The wood used should be thick and stable enough to support the lamp, glue and clamp a few pieces together if more stability is needed.

  • Depending on the desired size of the desk lamp, draw two half concentric circles with at least 2" in between to make a 2" thick half-ring. See image 1.
    • The plywood I found wasn't thick enough for me so I adhered and clamped two pieces together before making any cuts. See images 2-3.
  • Bring the half-ring to the band saw and cut along the outer circle and inner circle. The end result should be a 2" thick half ring.
    • (Optional) I sanded down one end of my half-ring to a taper to make a more interesting base
  • With the scraps make two legs to support the half ring so the lamp can stand. Using a saw and chisel, carefully cut a lap joint to attach the longer leg to the half ring. The other is attached on the opposite side, with no lap joint. Adhere with wood glue and clamp. See images 4 and 5.
  • Sand down all of your pieces and smooth and rough edges.
  • At the top end or un-tapered end of the half-ring, drill a hold large enough to fit the dowel or skewer. Add a few drops of glue into the hole, insert the dowel and allow it to dry. See image 5.
  • The final result should look like image 6. See image 6.

Step 3: Making the House for Your Bulb

Picture of Making the House for Your Bulb


The house for your bulb will incase your bulb and support your lampshade. The house will be attached to the base by the dowel secured in the top end of the half-ring, from Step 2: Making the base.

Materials needed:

  • Wood of your choice
  • Wood glue
  • Wooden skewers or dowels
  • Access to a band saw
  • Access to a scroll saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill
  • Draw two sets of concentric circles with 1" gaps on your wood. You should have two 1" thick rings drawn on the wood.
  • Take the rings to the band saw and cut along the outer rings.
  • Using a drill, make a hole in the center of each ring so they can be threaded onto the scroll saw. With the scroll saw, cut the inner circle of the rings.
  • You should now have you two rings, sand down the edges.
  • Drill two holes, one on each side, large enough to slide the dowel through the hole. See image 1.
  • With the first ring, insert a dowel into each hole. Take the second ring and thread it onto the dowels leaving at least 3" between the rings. This distance should be adjusted based on the size of the bulb being used. See image 2.
  • Glue the dowels in place and wipe away excess glue. See images 3-4.
  • The final result should look like image 5. See image 5.

Step 4: Completing the Base

Picture of Completing the Base

In this step, the base and house for the lamp will be assembled.

  • Snip any excess dowel down to ring. See image 1.
  • Drill a hole to fit the dowel that has already been secured to the top end of the base. See image 2.
  • Once the hole has been made, try attaching the house to the dowel secured at the top end of the base.
  • Make adjustments and secure with wood glue. The final result should look like image 3. See image 3.

Step 5: Fabricating the Shade

Picture of Fabricating the Shade

To create the shade for this lamp, I processed plastic bags into a water-tight plastic fabric. No glue is used in this step, the only adhesive needed is a heat gun. I found a med to low temp embossing gun works best. When heating the plastic it is important to take on proper safety precautions; only heat in a well ventilated area, wear a breathing or dust mask, along with eye protection, and heat resistant gloves. The fumes should not be visible, if smoke is visible then the plastic is being over heated.

Materials needed:

  • Dust/breathing mask
  • Eye protection
  • Heat resistant gloves
  • Med to low temp embossing/heat gun
  • Plastic bags
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
  • Tweezers
  • Metal bowl (This will be the size/shape of the shade)
  • Begin by cutting out medium sized patches of plastic from the bags.
  • Once a nice pile of plastic patches is made, use the patches and small pieces of tape to line the inside of the metal bowl. Ideally the lining should be about 3-4 patches thick before heating. See image 1.
  • When there are no exposed areas of the bowl and the patches are thick and layered, begin heating. Gradually apply heat and pat the patches down. Press fingers along the edges of the patches to seal them together.
  • As the plastic is heated, the plastic will shrivel and holes will form. Cover the holes with additional patches until sealed. See images 2-3.
  • Once satisfied with the thickness and adhesion of the patches, remove the form from the bowl. Flip the form over and lay it on top of the outside of the bowl. Now heat and seal the patches on the outside of the form. See image 4.
  • After the form is completely sealed, trim the edges so the form lays flat on the table. Heat the edges of the form and fix any blemishes. See images 5-6.
  • Using a pair of tweezers, find and remove and visible pieces of tape. When heated the pieces should have shriveled and will be easy to remove. See image 7.
  • The final result should look like image 8. See image 8.

Step 6: Adding the Lighting Fixture

Picture of Adding the Lighting Fixture

Now its time to add the light. This will include fixing the socket within the house for the bulb, and adhering the wire to the longer support leg.

Materials Needed:

  • Cardstock
  • Superglue

  • Begin by cutting a rectangle larger than the base of your socket and wider than the hole of the house for your bulb. See image 1.
  • Make sure the socket fits snug through the hole and glue it in place. Ahdere the cardstock to the bottom ring of the bulb house. See images 2-3.
  • Glue the hanging cord to the outside of the longer support leg. I found it best to do this in sections with very small amounts of the glue. Be sure to leave a bit of cord unglued at the bottom so the cord can sit properly on the table. See images 4-5.
  • The final result should look like images 6 and 7. See images 6-7.

Step 7: The Little Things

Picture of The Little Things

In this final step, do any extra little things to polish off your lamp such as sanding or staining. For my lamp, I coated the base and house of the lamp in polyurethane to give it some shine. Depending on the color of your shade, adding a coat of stain may tie everything together.

  • Plug it in, and enjoy!

Comments

watchmeflyy (author)2016-01-16

Nice design for the wooden frame. :)

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2015-12-11

Awesome. I love the creative use of materials.

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