I was given an empty whiskey bottle by a friend who said he wanted to make a lamp out of it but didn't know where to start, so of course I offered to help. I wanted to use reclaimed materials as much as possible on this build so I opted to adapt an old table leg I had lying around to make the base of the lamp. I also intended to take the light fitting from a broken uplighter I had but if you watch the video you will see this didn't go so well so I ended up buying a light fitting instead for about £6
I made a video of this build for those of you who prefer to watch rather than read and this is right below, otherwise read on.
Step 1: Prepare Your Bottle
Assuming you have already selected a bottle you want to use for your lamp, the first step is to cut the bottom off. Now if you look online you will find a variety of methods to do this on the cheap from scoring a line around the bottle and using thermal shock by placing the bottle in boiling water followed by ice water, to the downright alarming setting fire to acetone method which no one in their right mind should try. After a couple of fails with the thermal shock method I did the sensible thing and ordered a specialist glass cutting disc for my rotary tool. For under £4 I got a set of 4 discs which did the job cleanly and efficiently.
To cut a straight line around the bottle I build a cutting jig to clamp the rotary tool in place and provide a flat surface to hold the bottle tight to as I rotated it against the cutting disc. After about 10 rotations the bottom came away fairly cleanly, though I did have to use my rotary tool with a grinding stone to remove a couple of jagged lumps of glass. After this I finished smoothing the cut surface with a medium grit sandpaper.
Step 2: Adapting the Table Leg to Take the Light Fitting
The next step was to cut down the table leg to the right size to accept a light fitting. If you look at the picture, I chose to use the rounded section of the leg for the lamp with a short section above for the light fitting to slot into. To start I cut the top of the leg off with the chop saw to prepare the surface the fitting was going into. Obviously a cut like this on a chop saw is difficult to get straight as the rest of the leg doesn't sit straight on the saw. To get around this I checked the surface at the blade end with a set square and used a series of shims on the other end to hold the leg in place.
Once this was done I drew chords (see appendix) on the top surface to find the centre spot and drilled a pilot hole through the leg. I then used two hole saws (one slightly larger and one slightly smaller than the circumference of my bottle) to cut a ridge into the rounded section of the leg to create a slot that the bottle would fit snugly into when assembled. I then used my rotary tool with a grinding bit to remove the material between the two saw cuts and generally tidy up.
Next I used a hole saw that was slightly larger than the light fitting (but smaller than the fittings collar) to create a cavity to pass the light fitting through. I did this by alternating the hole saw and a spade bit to remove the material. Once I was about 2/3 of the way through I removed the bottom end of the table leg on the chop saw, sanded it flat on the belt sander and finally attacked it with the hole saw from the bottom end until I had a wide passage straight through the middle.
At this point I gave it a coat of boiled linseed oil which I left to dry and followed with a coat from an aerosol hardwood furniture oil.
Step 3: Making a Solid Heavy Base
At this stage I assembled the light and found it was a little top heavy so I decided to make a heavy base for it to stand on. I had a nice thick piece of the original table top from the same table the leg came from so I cut out a circular section using my largest 4 inch hole saw. I sanded the edge smooth on the belt sander before screwing it tightly to my worktop and profiling the top with my router and a rounding over bit to create an attractive rounded profile.
Step 4: Final Assembly
Now in the final stages of construction, the next step was to drill a hole close to the bottom of the rounded section with a drill which I pushed sideways once the drill was through to create a kind of mouse hole for the electrical cable to pass through. I used a file and sandpaper to tidy this hole up before passing the fitting through the lamp. I then established how much of the plastic fitting I wanted to protrude from the top of the lamp before threading the two screw collars I had to the appropriate height and tightening them into each other to stop them moving up or down the thread. Fortunately the lower collar fitted snugly into the wooden mount so no gluing was required.
Next I sat the power cable in its mouse hole and wood glued the heavy base to the rest of the lamp, clamped it and left it to dry. If you notice in the picture I used a piece of scrap wood at the top of the clamp to avoid damaging the light fitting.
Finally I treated the base with the same oils as the rest of the lamp, fitted a nice filament type bulb I found that fitted inside the bottle and mounted the bottle snugly in its groove.
So thats it finished, I'm very pleased with how this came out though my only gripe is it's a bit too bright - handy for reading by but a lower wattage bulb or using a dimmer on the wall socket would make this really stylish (and a lot less useful).
Hoep you enjoyed, don't forget to give me a like if you enjoyed this project and vote in the competitions its entered in.
Step 6: Tools and Materials
Router with rounding bit
Drill with various sized hole saw bits, spade bits, and wood bits
Rotary Tool with glass cutting bit and grinding bits
One empty whiskey bottle
One table leg
One E27 lamp fitting
One piece of table top or other thick wood
One E27 filament bulb
Boiled Linseed Oil
Hardwood Furniture Oil
Step 7: Appendix - Find the Centre of a Circle Using Chords
A chord is a line between two points on the circumference of a circle. If you choose an arbitrary length less than the radius of the circle you can draw three chords of that length inside your circle. If you mark the centre point of each of these chords and draw a line at right angles to each chord, the point where these 3 lines meet is the exact centre of the circle.