Introduction: How to Create a Beautiful Book Lamp

Picture of How to Create a Beautiful Book Lamp

This is a small tutorial on how to create a decorative book lamp!  It makes a great addition to any room, a great gift and can be any style you want, as you are the one creating it.  I made the lamp as an anniversary gift for my wife.  I looked on her pinterest account and saw one for sale for over $150.  I thought it would be A. cheaper for me to make and B. More personal of a gift knowing that I worked hard to create it.

Step 1:

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First thing is first.  Go to a local hardware store and purchase a lamp kit.  They generally cost anywhere between 8-15 dollars.  Mine was originally gold, but I spray painted it matte black.  Next, find some books that you don't want to ever read again.  You can either find some in your home or do as I did and go to an old book store with a huge assortment of books.  The book on the top is the most important as it is the cover of the lamp.  So, I spent a little more on the one book than I did the others.  I found "the black beauty" a 1901 copy, at an antique book store.  

Step 2: Screws!

Picture of Screws!

Once you have chosen your books you are now in the screwing stage.  Got a handful of wood screws and screw one book on top of the other in your desired formation.  With my lamp, I wanted my books to be a little off, so I screwed them in that way.  Others may want to screw them perfectly aligned.  The bottom book is going to take a little extra work, so don't screw it onto the others yet.  The bottom book needs to have a hole running through the pages to accommodate the electrical cord.   The way to do this is simple.  Get two c clamps and place them on both sides of the book tightly. pressing the pages together with a lot of force.  Get a drill bit and screw directly into the pages about half way into the book, or wherever you want the lamp to come up from.  Refer to the second photo below for clarification.

Step 3: Drill Bit

Picture of Drill Bit

After you have screwed all of the books on the other, get a 5/8-3/4 inch drill bit that is LONG.  Now, drill a hole all the way through the stack of books.  Be delicate with the top book as you don't want to mess up the front cover that everyone will see.  Experiment with the books that won't be on top to see how the drilling will affect the cover.  The post from the lamp kit should fit snugly in the book hole as you don't want it to be loose or have the need to anchor it in the books.  Next, put the electrical cord through the bottom book and up through the post and screw the bottom book onto the rest of the pile.  At this point your lamp should look about 50% complete, (refer to the second picture below.)  

Step 4: Lamp Shade & Bulb

Picture of Lamp Shade & Bulb

Now follow the instruction included with the lamp kit pertaining to the actual wiring.  For my style lamp, I chose more of a cage style lamp shade and an old style filament bulb.  I love this kind of bulb as it really enhances the overall feel of your custom lamp.  They are a little pricey, but worth the price.

Step 5: DONE!

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Now that you have completed your lamp, plug it in and just wait for all of the compliments to roll in. You can use it in all of your decorating and most of all impress your wife with the gift you made her!


jessyratfink (author)2011-12-08

Gorgeous! I love using old books for beautiful things like these.

Alex.Mason (author)jessyratfink2011-12-09

Thank you so much! These books could either go in a memorable lamp or stay on a shelf for 10 years, accumulate dust and then be sold at a garage sale for 10 cents! So thanks for the kind comment!

furrrball (author)2011-12-08

Very clever, I'd never seen one of these. I'll attempt it as a Christmas gift for my husband's office using old law books (fyi, they're useless mrguy). The filament bulb is the perfect touch. It will definitely be a conversation piece in his otherwise staid environment. Thanks for the idea!

mrguy19187 (author)furrrball2011-12-08

Yeah, I guess it is just a sign of the times. My grandma refused to ever get rid of any book, every time the her local library would get rid of some, she would take them all, and her house was totally filled with books. She would even try to give them out to kids at Halloween.

Alex.Mason (author)mrguy191872011-12-09

She sounds like such a sweet woman! Funny story about Halloween though. I saw the Lamp that you made for your mother and it was AWESOME. Very creative and reminiscent of the culture.

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2011-12-08

That is so beautiful! And you picked the perfect boks and lamp shade. It really makes it all work perfectly!

Thank you so much! It took a little bit of work, but it is only because I had never done it before! But thanks again for your kind words! I wanted to find a lamp shade that was like the one that my wife liked but they were so difficult to find! So I went to an old antique store and found a "decorative bird cage" and the used some JB Weld and glued it to the top of the lamp equipment. So it took a little ingenuity to make it just the way she wanted it!

DaveH127 (author)2017-03-18

I have a stack of gardening books I'm going to use. I'll put the lamp in the garden shed. Seems fitting.

haloreachwalkthrough (author)2011-12-09

This is seriously so fun!

My mother is an avid reader of a Mistry and she buy get them at the library for their one cent sale I'm going to use a make up for her thank you so much for the idea

SparkySolar (author)2014-10-31

wicked nice

SparkySolar (author)2014-10-31

This is so romantic

Sianeee (author)2014-02-16

Sigh...This all seems sad; drilling holes in classics. Did you make sure which edition they were? I hope you drilled a hole in a costy first edition. Just paint wood in the titles you want and make a lamp. Don't render them useless for a decorating whim.

Alex.Mason (author)Sianeee2014-06-09

This isn't sad. I think that it said first edition on the inside of it. Is that good or bad? This wasn't simply decorating whim as you put it, but a well thought out design utilizing a treasure or in this case, several treasures.

tinker234 (author)2012-05-09

do you mind telling me where you got the shade

Loopstyle (author)2012-03-13

Good idea!! You are more then welcome to share your ideas with us at ! Post a Loop :)

Thanks for string this idea!!

sammiejoe (author)2012-01-10

What a disgrace! Farenheit 451! I mean seriously, if you want to destroy something choose something which has no value. Every book has value to someone who will read it and cherish it. The idea that you are destroying books, and that it has become popular in various "book art" forms, is akin to destroying culture. Do what you will but don't destroy books.

SIRJAMES09 (author)sammiejoe2012-01-16

it never fails....for every artist, there is a critique....and like most critique's comments, your reply is neither welcome nor accepted.

for those like yourself who have no appreciation for true art, you need to remain silent until such a time comes, when you learn what art truly is.

I bid you peace.

Alex.Mason (author)sammiejoe2012-01-16

A disgrace? Your comment is a disgrace sir. This is art! Art comes in many forms. Many people do not see the beauty in it or like yourself try to degrade and offend the artist. Not only do I disagree with you, but this website (instructables) and its millions of viewers do also, as this instructable was featured! But, if you have any non-offensive or rude replies, please leave a message in my inbox.

ahall16 (author)2011-12-09

You know what I like to use old books for? READING.

Alex.Mason (author)ahall162012-01-16

You know what I use old books for? Making awesome lamps :)

mischka (author)2011-12-11

beautiful lamp! Awesome. It would be a perfect lamp for a library or a book shop.

Alex.Mason (author)mischka2012-01-16

Thank you so much for your kind comments! I think a book shop would love something like this!

SIRJAMES09 (author)2011-12-29

AND Mr.Mason, it is that hard work & ingenuity that always seems to have a positive effect on the Ladies....especially if it's your wife. :)

I like this's easy to make(for those with experience making lamps) & it has that "personal" touch to it.

TY for sharing Sir.

Alex.Mason (author)SIRJAMES092012-01-16

Thanks Sirjame! That's really nice of you and I appreciate the support!

DRenteria16 (author)2012-01-04

How do you connect the books using wood screws? The pictures didn't show this step. Do you just go through the back cover of one book to the front of the book below it?

Alex.Mason (author)DRenteria162012-01-16

It was pretty simple, I screwed the covers together. But the screws that I used were several inches long, so drilling into the covers would inevitably go into the book also. But there is more than one way to do it. Thanks for showing interest in my lamp!

mrguy19187 (author)2011-12-08

I like how this says "I love reading, I'm a book-lover" by drilling holes through a person's favorite books.

Alex.Mason (author)mrguy191872011-12-08

I am glad that you like it! I am always looking for alternate uses for things. Old books are perfect for so many things. iPod stand and chargers, clocks etc. The possibilities are endless. Thanks again.

SIRJAMES09 (author)Alex.Mason2011-12-29

I get this strange feeling he was being sarcastic...

which is fine...everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Seriously cool project Sir!

bigmark (author)2011-12-09

I have almost enough Stephen King hard cover book's to make a floor lamp!!!
But I'm so torn about doing it.....Love the idea!!! Great job!!!

SIRJAMES09 (author)bigmark2011-12-29

when in doubt, stop & wait....OR, do not do it.

This was something my papa always taught me. If you are not sure what to do, do nothing till you ARE sure....or change your game plan.

Here's a thought.

cut various sizes, shapes & colors of wood, paint them to look like classic books, then build your lamp accordingly.

hlouie8 (author)2011-12-26

This is FANTASTIC. I found old books around my house and made a lamp this afternoon. I bought a cheap lamp and then used it's parts, which made for an easier time. Thank you so much!

framistan (author)2011-12-08

Drilling holes through classic books is not a good idea. When I was young, I "hollowed out" a book that i thought was a "useless book." Years later, I realized it was the ONLY BOOK my father ever gave me and I had ruined it. Not only that, but it was a fairly rare book ( Treasury of Great American Folklore by B. A. Botkin) . I spent the next 25 years looking for a similar book so i could have a copy again. I am not COMPLETELY against your lamp idea. I think you could use old math text books or other non-literature/non-classic books. You could printout fake covers from pictures captured on the internet and make it LOOK like classic books. I looked on Ebay and saw black beauty books from 1932 selling for $30 dollars. One from 1901 may be worth lots more. SOME old books are worth thousands!!! Please everyone be carefull what books you choose to destroy.

Alex.Mason (author)framistan2011-12-09

I guess this just shows that everybody is different. This is just an idea. Yo ucan use whatever books you want. These are the books that I chose. If you created a lamp, you could use whatever medium you would like. But I do understand what you are saying. IF I wanted to read any of the books in my lamp stack, I could find them somewhere and read them. This way, the books are admired not only for being great literary works, but also from an artistic standpoint as well. Not everything on instructables is for everybody. But thanks for the comments, I will keep them in mind the next time I make a classic literary book!

luckyboots125 (author)Alex.Mason2011-12-24

Beautifully said...and of course, a beautiful project!

zombiecow (author)2011-12-17

I think is brillaint I love reading but also think books can make great decor I have an old book store by my house that usually has books for two or three dollars that look antiqueish I think I shall look into getting some for this project :)

LadyPicker (author)2011-12-17

I love this idea. One question...when you use the metal basket shade how do you fasten the lamp shade fixture to the basket? Would love to have a close up of that piece. Great post!

wilgubeast (author)2011-12-09

If you need some good books for this project, go to your local library and ask if they have any books they need to get rid of. Those 1 cent sales move some books, but there will always be a copy of MS-DOS for Computer Scientists from 1993 that nobody will ever want.

Some books, and this is coming from someone with a Library Science background, are just wastes of glue and paper.

(Obviously don't do this to a first edition of a classic. Check eBay if you're not sure about the value of your book.)

AlexMasonR (author)2011-12-09

Seriously cool!

javajunkie1976 (author)2011-12-08

Interesting. I made something similar but I used a stack of skulls and a flicker bulb (it being Halloween and all.)

That sounds AWESOME! My kids would LOVE that!

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