Introduction: Street Light Floor Lamp

Bring the blinding brightness of street lighting to your work space by turning an old street light into your new floor lamp. This street lamp was found at a building reuse store. It looks like it was badly damaged, partially warped, and was missing the glass cover that protects the bulb. Since I was only using the light housing it was perfect.

This industrial lighting solution is unique as it gets, and sure to stop a few of your coworkers in their tracks. And, just like real outdoor public infrastructure, it provides a great canvas for tagging and stickers.

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

The center of this project is obviously the street light housing. I found mine at a salvage yard that collects all kinds of crazy stuff. You can check out the field trip we took here

  • 2" EMT 90° elbow
  • 2" EMT straight conduit
  • 2" EMT compression coupler
  • 2" EMT mounting collar
  • 20' power cord
  • 8" threaded lamp nipple
  • pull chain lamp socket
  • compact fluorescent light bulb
  • street lamp head

The street light was in pretty bad shape, so I had to clean it up with a sandblaster and some elbow grease to make it look decent.

Step 2: Lamp Base

Picture of Lamp Base

I started with the base for my lamp and worked my way upwards. Since I wanted a floor lamp I knew the base had to be sturdy, so I decided to use two sheets of 3/4" plywood.

The two sheets were cut to 2' x 2'. This will allow the lamp to be free standing and provide enough support. Though my lamp stands on its own, I think a larger foot is needed, or a weight should be placed to secure the base. I have my lamp under the legs of my desk, which provides plenty of support.

Step 3: Lamp Base - Make Opening for Conduit

Picture of Lamp Base - Make Opening for Conduit

I started by positioning the mounting collar near the edge of one of the sheets and tracing the interior opening onto one sheet. The bolt openings were also traced onto the plywood.

The traced opening was cut with a hole saw and the bolt openings were drilled, I also used a countersink to bury the bolt heads. The bolts were fed through the bottom and into the collar, bolts were then used to secure the collar in place.

After, the second sheet of plywood was attached to the underside of the first piece and secured with screws. This beefy base was then sanded to remove any burrs and round off the corners.

Step 4: Upright - Cut Conduit to Length

Picture of Upright - Cut Conduit to Length

The 2" EMT straight conduit I bought comes in 10' lengths. Since I wanted my light to be operable with a pull chain I decided to cut my lamp down to about 7'. I measured and marked on the pipe my dimensions, then took it to the cold saw to cut to length.

Step 5: Upright - Electrical Opening

Picture of Upright - Electrical Opening

I drilled a small opening close to the one end of the conduit for the electrical cord to be installed. An opening was drilled, then the drill was tilted at an angle to create a sloped pathway for the cord to run up into the conduit. The opening was deburred and the electrical cord was threaded into the opening until it came out the top.

The cord was pulled through the conduit and bunched up to keep things tidy. We'll come back to the electrical wiring after the street lamp has been modified.

Step 6: Lamp Head - Attach 90° Elbow

Picture of Lamp Head - Attach 90° Elbow

This street lamp attaches to 2" EMT conduit by a bracket that has two large bolts that hold it in place.

I removed the two bolts, along with the bracket, and gave them all a good cleaning with a wire brush to remove any debris. The 2" elbow EMT was then inserted into the back of the lamp head, the bracket was installed on top of the elbow and then the bolts were tightened to hold the elbow in place.

Step 7: Lamp Head - Light Bracket

Picture of Lamp Head - Light Bracket

The pull chain socket for this light will need structure to rest on in order to work effectively. I threaded the pull chain socket to the 8" lamp nipple and positioned the assembly where I wanted it to be located. Since this street lamp wasn't designed for such a small bulb I had to create my own bracket to mount the lamp nipple to.

Luckily there were threaded mounting holes on the inside of the lamp head which I could. Measuring the mounting holes, I cut a scrap piece of 3/4" wood to use as a bracket to fit these holes and drilled openings to match the threaded holes.

Step 8: Lamp Head - Nipple Mounting

Picture of Lamp Head - Nipple Mounting

The nipple can now be mounted to the scrap wood bracket. I found the center of the scrap piece of wood and drilled an opening the same diameter as the nipple. The nipple is threaded, so I was able to install it inside the bracket by attaching it into the chuck of a drill and screwing it in.

Step 9: Lamp Head - Light Install

Picture of Lamp Head - Light Install

The electrical wire can now be threaded through the hollow nipple and wired onto the light socket, then the socket can be assembled. THe entire assembly can then be mounted inside the lamp and the wood bracket screwed into the mounting holes.

Step 10: Lamp Cover - Vacuum Form Lamp Cover

Picture of Lamp Cover - Vacuum Form Lamp Cover

My lamp didn't come with a lamp cover, so decided to make my own.

There's a few ways to make a dome-like lamp cover, but we have access to a vacuum former and I wanted an excuse to use it. I was looking around the shop for something that would have roughly the right shape, after a few moments I decided to go out and buy a watermelon to cut in half. The dome shape would be perfect, and I love watermelon.

The vacuum former works by heating a thin sheet of plastic, the object you want to form around is placed on a vacuum table underneath the object, then the plastic sheet is lowered into the object and the vacuum table is activated. The hot plastic is then stretched around the object, when the plastic cools it hardens into the shape of the object. You know the plastic is ready to be lowered onto your object (in this case a watermelon) when it begins to droop under the heating element - as seen in image 4 and 5 in this step.

The hot plastic is dropped onto the form and the vacuum engaged. When cool the plastic will have the exact shape of the form.

Step 11: Lamp Cover - Cut Vacuum Formed Lamp Cover

Picture of Lamp Cover - Cut Vacuum Formed Lamp Cover

After vacuum forming the watermelon was removed and sliced up to be eaten. The vacuum form shape was then cut to fit the opening of the street light with scissors.

Step 12: Lamp Cover - Diffuse Lamp Cover

Picture of Lamp Cover - Diffuse Lamp Cover

To give my street light a more even glow I decided to diffuse the clear plastic. Since I have access to a sandblaster, this is what I used. You could easily achieve the same results with sandpaper.

Step 13: Lamp Cover - Drill Opening for Pull Chain

Picture of Lamp Cover - Drill Opening for Pull Chain

The lamp cover lastly needs an opening to pull the chain. Noting where the chain fell a small opening was drilled into the lamp cover. The cover can then be installed, the chain pulled through the cover, and the lower half of the lamp installed into the upper hosing.

Step 14: Assemble Lamp

Picture of Assemble Lamp

With all the components finished we can attach the lamp head and elbow to the upright. Since EMT is galvanized I couldn't weld the two sections together, luckily they sell 2" EMT compression couplers. The coupler was attached and tightened onto the elbow and the upright, securing the two sections together. The cantilever isn't too far, and the light assembly isn't too heavy, so the coupler holds the head securely.

Step 15: Hit the Lights

Picture of Hit the Lights

Lastly, I finished the aluminum with machine oil to give it a dark matte finish. I maneuvered the floor lamp under my desk to keep it secure and the pull chain directly overhead.

Now glorious street light lumens can bathe my desk at the pull of a switch.


karbuckle (author)2015-12-06

I work for the power company and we are currently replacing all 200,000 street light heads with LED versions. I grabbed 4 of these yesterday that were almost brand new and took the inside pieces out to reduce weight and this lamp is what I'm doing with them. Great job on the instructions.

gilbequick (author)karbuckle2016-06-09

Does anyone know where I could source a (affordable!) street light head? Really love this idea.

karbuckle (author)gilbequick2016-06-09

I would contact your city's street lighting dept.

gilbequick (author)2016-06-09

Does anybody know where I could source a (affordable!) street light head in this style? Really want to make this!

Yonatan24 (author)2015-10-29

I see a lot of people like using watermelons for vacuum formers ;)

Also, how did you make the GIF ant step #15? Video to GIF? 2 Pictures to GIF? How did you make it?

mikeasaurus (author)Yonatan242015-10-29

Thanks for checking this out!

The GIF is just 2 frames made into a GIF in Photoshop.

Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242015-10-29

*at step #15

Foskifo44. (author)2015-07-06

Just discovered this one: genius! This scrap yard is awesome.Wish I had one like that near my place

barbhug (author)2014-12-28

Did you leave the glass lens off to lighten it? The reason I ask is I just got 3 vintage street lamp heads at an auction and want to make this. Will it topple over if I use original glass or do I just make the base bigger?

mikeasaurus (author)barbhug2014-12-29

The street light I found didn't have a glass lens, so I made my own. If yous has one I'd suggest beefing up the base to support the additional weight.

I'd love to see your results when you're done. Share a picture in the comments here. Good luck!

maxom (author)2014-09-07

I would need an intact street lamp due to not having access to a vacuum table(?)

And I haven't seen many street lamps laying around lately This project might be worthwhile if I had a big garage to put it in, certainly wouldn't fit in my living room. The overall idea is good, just needs scaled down a bit for space restrictions..

barbhug (author)maxom2014-12-28

I have 3 if you still need.

OhYeahThatGuy81 (author)2014-10-01

Hahaha that is so cool

a66fordvan (author)2014-09-19

That is AWEsome!!! I LOVE it!

Helder4u (author)2014-09-10


Akin Yildiz (author)2014-09-04

i like how rough yet very precise your work and your style is.. i also love the addition of fruit "snack" break !

mikeasaurus (author)Akin Yildiz2014-09-08

Thanks! The watermelon break was much needed :)

Akin Yildiz (author)mikeasaurus2014-09-08

on a good day i eat 2 whole watermelons, 1 for breakfast 1 for dinner and about 15 bananas for lunch. it is an unexplainable experience..

depotdevoid (author)2014-09-02

Holy crap, are all those tools and workshops at instructables HQ!?

mikeasaurus (author)depotdevoid2014-09-08

Our new digs are amazing! Stay tuned, I have a few more videos coming that show of more of the shop.

Mrballeng (author)2014-09-03

This is great. One of these days I'll make it back to San Francisco and score a scrap piece from your shop. It will go on my shelf of cool stuff in my living room.

mikeasaurus (author)Mrballeng2014-09-08

You should come by, we'll exchange metal/woodworking tips!

spylock (author)2014-09-04

A 6 X 6 with the corners rounded of,and stained to look like a light pole would look pretty cool also,Id think.But at any rate top notch job,looks very industrial for sure.

mikeasaurus (author)spylock2014-09-08

Thank you. I have the best light at my desk now

mikecz (author)2014-09-05

You definitely want to change light bulb to CFL, as author did, or even better, an LED. Most original street lights are 220 V, besides the problems "lfoss" mentions about mercury vapor, halide, and other commercial/municipal lighting systems few comments below this one.

notimeoff (author)2014-09-05

This is great , now I need to find the street lamp.

my truck may need to back up in the right place ;-)

Eh Lie Us! (author)2014-09-05

Very nice. I found one of those housing units on the street a while back but couldn't think of what to do with it. This is great!

You should be doing a "Singing in the Rain" routine on it!

Antzy Carmasaic (author)2014-09-05

Clever use of a watermelon. And Randy's "whoa" was the best ending for the video...

lfoss (author)2014-09-04

I just wanted to say to anybody considering doing their own version of this instructable, *please* *please* do not use the original high-intensity discharge lamps (sodium-vapor, mercury vapor, metal-halide, etc.) that are typically found in these municipal street lights. Not only do the bulbs contain many dangerous substances (mercury, thorium, krypton-85.. to name a few), they also generate *high* levels of UV radiation. This is why street lamps are generally placed *at least* 25 ft. above ground level. These types of lamps (in the >150 watt range) should *never* be used indoors, unless you want a *serious* sun-burn / possible skin cancer.. not to mention that UV radiation tends to fade the dye used in a lot of fabrics, so you may end up with some very pastel-looking carpeting & furniture. =P

JohnnyBighead (author)2014-09-04

I'm having trouble locating a mounting collar. Any ideas?

Love this!

They are also called pipe flanges. Ask at the hardware see what fits. Electrical conduit pipe might not come with threaded ends so you might have to drill a hole for a setscrew or through bolt in the upright portion to secure the pipe in the flange. It seems the plywood base creates a deep enough socket for the pole like a patio umbrella base.

rhfrancis (author)2014-09-04

This industrial street lamp repurposing is brilliant. But one word of caution. Where you "angle drill" into the 2" EMT for the feed wire, this is not a safe enough practice. You should place a grommet into that hole to assure the wire will not abraid over time from friction and cause a short. Dick Francis.

threeoutside (author)2014-09-04

That is AWESOME! You really had me going with that watermelon, lol. I don't have the skills or the equipment to do this but thanks for the treat!

morganmurdock (author)2014-09-04

I'm impressed. That's quite cool.

guitarpicker7 (author)2014-09-04

EXCELLENT presentation! Lots of fun to watch!

guitarpicker7 (author)2014-09-04

EXCELLENT presentation! Lots of fun to watch!

Rolf G (author)2014-09-04

What a unique idea! I can figure out how it looks like in my garage and hall way.

I hope our junk shop nearby have this kind of street lamp.

Bartoche (author)2014-09-04

Such a good idea!

derte84 (author)2014-09-04

Cool video and really cool workshop!

66legion (author)2014-09-04

very cool upcycle

M.C. Langer (author)2014-09-03

Amazing project, Mike! :-)

Jobar007 (author)2014-09-03

Clever idea and good reuse. Great sweatshirt too.

gravityisweak (author)2014-09-03

Are you technically allowed to enter this in the Watermelon Contest now too?

gravityisweak (author)2014-09-03

What's amazing about this is that I have one of these lights EXACTLY like this, sitting in my basement at this very moment just waiting to be put to use.

emilygraceking (author)2014-09-03

Love it!

Mr. Noack (author)2014-09-03

Wow! Excellent video as well!!

sabu.dawdy (author)2014-09-03

so niceee..

domenic3 (author)2014-09-02

nice lamp

camping crazy (author)2014-09-02

This would be awesome in a dorm!!

Toastalicious (author)2014-09-02

a watermelon half as a vaccuform buck. huh.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
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