The purpose of this instructable is to show you the basic steps to revamping pretty much any lamp you may want to renew and refresh. A lamp is really only an electrical cord with a plug on one end and two wires that connect to a socket on the other that is held in place by a decorative structure to create a light source. It doesn't matter that your lamp looks differently than mine does, the wiring and process is all basically the same. If you have never tried to rewire a lamp before because you thought it might be too hard or scary I will tell you that I used to feel just like that. There is really nothing hard about the entire process it is just that sometimes our own thinking gets in the way of the things we may want to do. Our mind tells us that it must be hard to do.... whatever, whatever (you fill in the blank).....If you have ever believed that please stop now. Not much is too hard to do if you take it one step at a time. So, let's start with a simple lamp!
Step 1: Find a Lamp That Needs the ReVamp Treatment Plus a Lot of Love!
My mother died in 1987. I still lived at home and my sister and I packed up the house and put all of our mother's things in storage upstairs in my father's drug store. He owned a drug store that had been a hotel in the early 1900's and the upstairs was empty and just old hotel rooms (with creepy ceiling paper coming unglued and hanging eerily from the ceiling, etc...). I had a hard time going back to look through our mother's things but decided it was time a few months ago. We moved boxes of things we had not seen in years. I came across this lamp that I remember my mother really liking and it was in SAD shape after all those years in a dusty box in a dusty storage room in an old and dusty building! Step one was to decide if it was in good enough condition that I could rewire it and make it nice again. I determined that it was so I began the cleaning process. If you have a lamp that you want to rewire that is one thing. If you go to a garage sale or flea market to find a lamp, or any other used piece you may want to bring into your home, please consider a careful examination. You do not want to bring in insects, termites, or any other type of potential infestation into your house. That is just my free tip in case you are interested. Always thoroughly clean your project and make sure it is worth the time and effort it will take to make it beautiful again. I decided this lamp was worth a little time. Take your lamp apart and get it clean. Cut the old wire and get rid of the old light socket. It is safer to start new. I use old toothbrushes, paper towels, and I break bamboo skewers since they then become like mini brooms to clean items with. I used soap and water and some general cleaning products.
Step 2: Make Sure Your Project Piece Is Very Clean, Take It Apart, and Paint It.
Clean your lamp and discard old wires, sockets, and any other part that is not safe or sanitary to use again in your home. Get it ready for paint and take your time and do several light coats rather than a single heavy coat.
Before I painted the lamp body I noticed pit marks in the plaster or ceramic of the body of the lamp. I don't know what caused them but it looked like tiny insects had done something to this lamp at some time in the past. I saw no evidence of any type of insect activity and I cleaned it like crazy but I wanted those spaces filled in so I used pre-mixed plaster such as you would use to repair a plaster wall to fill in holes in the lamp. I let the plaster dry overnight before I painted it. I also painted the metal base that the lamp body was attached to. I let it all dry overnight and got ready to put it together.
Step 3: Wire It Up!
Once you have your lamp clean, painted, and ready to wire it is time to get your project wrapped up. Once you thread your wire through your lamp and socket and you are about to connect the wire ends take a moment and learn to create an Underwriter's Knot in the wires you will connect to the socket at the base of your socket. The Underwriter's Knot is the knot generally used in electrical applications because if the wire is tugged on, such as if someone jerks the cord from the wall or is not careful with the lamp, the pressure and force are absorbed by the Underwriter's Knot and it keeps the connections secure on the screw connections of the socket. It is a simple knot to learn and I took a picture to show what it looks like. Follow the directions that are included when you purchase a new lamp socket. They basically tell you to make sure you know which strand of wire is the hot and which is the neutral. Generally, or maybe always, I just don't know for sure, the smooth wire is the hot and you need to attach it to the brass screw. Bend your wire into a little hook shape with the hook to the right since you will screw the screw down on the wire to tighten it and make the connection by turning the screw to the right. The neutral wire is the ribbed wire. That one will be connected the same way but on the other screw which is usually just the basic metal and not brass like the hot one tends to be. Make the same wire hook shape and screw the screw down on the wire to make the connection.
Step 4: Enjoy Your ReVamped Lamp and Be Proud of Your Excellent Work!
Your lamp may look nothing like mine but the basics are the same. Find a lamp that fits your style and Revamp it to make it a new and updated version of a classic style that you like. I hope my mother would be pleased that I brought her vintage lamp back to the shiny and clean lamp almost like it was when she bought it years ago.
I hope you ReVamp a Lamp and post pictures so I can admire your work.
Thank you for your time in reading this instructable.
Go forth and ReVamp!