Introduction: The Coil Lamp

Picture of The Coil Lamp

Not so much an instructable in photos but a brief on how to drive yourself nuts!

Step 1:

Picture of

This lamp was a germ of an idea after I made the Nixie Clock No.2 as I had quite a lot of 8mm copper tubing left over.

Bending the copper tubing is probably the easiest part of the construction.

Make a circular former to the diameter you want the coil to form, I used the same one as I had used for the clock curves. Bending of the tubing without it collapsing on itself is done by first filling it with salt. It takes a lot of tapping to get 3M of tubing filled with salt but this stops it collapsing on itself as you bend the coils.

Leave a tail when you start the first coil as it will be needed later. To get the even spiral I let the coils get pushed up from the former by the next coil in the spiral until I had about 8 coils formed. The most difficult part is to get the return at the top of the coil which holds the E27 lamp holder for the Edison Lamp. I made a smaller circular former for this to get a nice bend. Take your time with this as you want a 90 degree bend upwards first followed by a 180 degree bend into the center of the coil without collapsing the tubing. Get all of the salt out of the tubing by tapping it and flush with water as it is corrosive with copper. Allow the tubing to dry fully or blow out with compressed air to remove the water droplets that remain. Adjust the spacing of the coils to your liking and align everything up before the next stage.

So far so good. Now comes the bit where cursing the idea starts!

I used 5M of gold coloured 0.5mm 3 core flex of which about 3M is contained inside the coils!. Every attempt to get the flex pushed through just ended in failure until I stripped the outer covering off 2M of it and with the aid of a draw wire that I pushed through from the top return and vegetable oil, eventually get it routed through the tubing and out of the return bend.

I used the compression nut and the olive from an 8mm straight connection to attach the lamp holder. I set the distance for the olive and used the male part of the fitting to clamp it in place with the nut above it. After removing the fitting I had to reduce the external diameter of the entry of the lamp holder and using the other nut from the coupling I forced a thread onto the aluminium. Your choice of E7 lamp holder will determine how you fix it to the tubing and how you connect the wiring to it.

The one I used had a threaded spigot on it so I could not connect the wires and just screw it on. I had to feed the wires through the casing and then connect to the lamp holder. Once this was done I had to screw the casing onto the lamp holder and then connect it to the tubing with the compression nut with the olive locking it all together.

I locked the flex to the tail of the lamp with heat shrink and then put an inline double pole switch on the flex near the lamp and a 13A plug with a 2A fuse on the end of the flex. I tested the completed lamp for continuity and insulation and all was fine.

Screw in the Edison lamp, plug it into a socket and operate the switch and then there was light!

As with all projects involving electricity a level of competence is required and any item should be fully tested before connecting to the electricity supply.

A word of warning:- Due to the construction of this lamp there is a tendency for the lamp holder to get quite warm as the lamp is below it. Ensure that the flex used is heat rated and that the lamp is not left on for excessive periods of time or left unattended.

Step 2: Materials & Tools


3M of 8mm OD copper tubing

1 x 8mm straight compression fitting

1 x Antique brass E27 Lamp holder assembly

I x 240V 60W

5M of 0.5mm 3 core flex

1 x 2 pole Inline or Torpedo switch

Clear Heatshrink

1 x 13A Plug Top



Draw Wire

Mini Tubing Cutter

Circular Former for Coil

Circular Former for Bends


Craft Knife

Wire Strippers


greentree89 made it! (author)2016-06-25

Hi these coil lamps are fantastic and I wanted to thank you for sharing this wonderful idea and method of constructing it. I have already made 3 of these and they look lovely around the house.

I just wanted to share an alternative with how I've decided to make them which seems easy enough with a bit of practice. This method is certainly not superior but may just appeal to some people more.

I also bought 3M Length 8mm copper tubing with 2 core gold flex cable 0.5mm size.
The cables overal diameter is just below 8mm and slides perfectly into the tubing. I did not have the patience to pack the tubing with crushed sand or salt and bend it then feed the wire through the tight coils so I came up with another method which seems to work fine.

First off when the copper tubing is bought it is usually packed in a pancake coil and can be stretched out loosely into a wide vortex coil. I prefer not to straighten it all out as it seemed to get weaker the more you bend it back and forth also it is relatively easy bending it into a coil when its already partialy coiled but thats just my opinion.

Its at this point I tried to just feed the flex through the tubing.

At first I thought it would work easily but about a third of the way in there is too much resistence to push the flex any further. I then stripped some insulation back from the cable and securely tied a piece of durable string to the exposed copper flex in a tight wound knot. I then used a hoover to suck the string through the tubing. The string has to be fed through the tubing by hand while the other end of the tubing has the hoover noozle over it.

Once it is through I tried feeding the flex into the tubing. (Make sure you pull the string while feeding the flex in so the flex does not overtake the string and create more resistence) Even with the string pulling the flex through you will get to that impossible resistence point where it will not budge any further.

This is where I discovered you can feed it through by bracing the coil lamp and pulling the string while simultaneously wiggling the flex forward by pushing it and wiggling it very quickly.
The way I did this was tie the string to a post or something that won't move and while holding the copper tubing, pull back away from the post while also pushing and wiggling the flex very quickly into the tubing.
It takes a bit of practice but once you get the right pressure and timing, the flex will fly through the tubing with no resistence all the way through and will take very little time but the pulling of the coil and the pushing of the flex must be done at the same time.

Now with the flex all the way through the tubing you can now bend it into the coil size you want.
I used a huge camping/picnic flask for my coil former. Wind the coil tightly around the former but when bending the tubing with your hands make sure to have your hands right up against the cylinder former (flask) placing pressure along the tubing right nex to the former. If you try and bend the tubing further away from the cylinder it will simply dent and deform.

For the U turn bend where the bulb holder is inside the coil I bought a 8mm tubing pipe bender for this. Keep in mind that is is important to do the U bend first then fix the bulb holder THEN bend the tubing into a coil. I opened the flask and had the U bend with the holder fixed and placed inside the flask while I formed the coil around the flask.

Once its all done just tweak the coil by hand to make it is all central, balanced and spaced apart neatly

Anyway hope this helps! Sorry if I did not make much sense but ask any questions and I will try my best to help more! :)

Izzypup (author)2016-01-22

I LOVE it! The golden glow of the lamp along with the gorgeous color of the copper [ I think it's "copper," right? ;-) ] is magical. To me it is somehow quite modern and old world at the same time.
I have a suggestion for the next time you find a need to thread wiring through spiral tubing. Wouldn't it work to thread a piece of strong string or flexible wire through the tubing before it's filled with salt and before its bent? If using string, (or wire if it's flexible enough) a heavy bolt small enough to easily fit in the tubing could be tied to the end and, when dropped into the end of the tubing, should pull the string right through. Having the string or wire a few feet longer than the tube would leave a 'tail' to attach to the electric wiring as well as a handle at the other end to hold to pull the wiring through the tubing. Neither string or wire should interfere with filing the tube with salt - or emptying it. (Sorry, no suggestions for those steps.) The only crucial thing is to be sure that neither end of the string/wire gets lost back into the tubing.

Roddy Scott (author)Izzypup2016-01-23


if I make another I will use wire similar to the inner core from a bicycle brake line as I did with the Steampunk lamp. Bending the tube with the flex inside was a suggestion but it would nt stop it deforming and it looks much better with the coils perfectly round. I will be changing the Edison lamp for a lower wattage as it gets quite warm, 40W should be better.

Thanks for liking the lamp!

Izzypup (author)Roddy Scott2016-01-24

I'm not sure we're on the same page. (Flex?) My suggestion was to run string or a flexible wire through the tubing leaving a foot or so exposed at both ends, filling the tubing with sand then continuing as you did in your tutorial. After the tubing is coiled/shaped to your satisfaction and the salt has been removed, tie the string/wire extending from the bottom of the lamp to the lamp wiring. Then, using the string/wire extending from the top of the lamp, pull the electrical cord through. Please forgive me if I'm repeating what you said. It seemed to me that you didn't completely understand my idea. Once again, whatever method you used, the lamp is one of the prettiest I've seen on this site!

About This Instructable




Bio: I learned to take things apart before I could put them together. Reasonably handy with a screwdriver. Can count to twenty without taking my socks ... More »
More by Roddy Scott:The Tesla Meets Edison Nixie ClockThe Hands of TImeThe Atomium Nixie Clock
Add instructable to: