Step 1: Get Your Supplies
What you should do - Make a list of everything needed
I just had a bunch of Cigar Boxes around for future projects and said I want to make a Steampunk style lamp so that is what I used as the base.
Wooden Box. - Cigar Boxes work great and are cheaper than craft store boxes. Cost me $2 but your cigar shop might just give them away. Mine sells them for 5 for $10 or $3 a piece.
Switch - This is actually the hardest part to get the right aesthetics for. Blade Switch would be great but not practical and somewhat dangerous unless using it to trigger a hidden switch, Dolly Switch is what I wanted to use but I live in the States and are near impossible to find outside the UK.Even if you do the price makes it very impractical for a project for fun. Toggle Switch IMHO is the best but finding ball headed toggle proved difficult and All Brass impossible. Lowes is were I got the Toggle. HD did not have ball headed toggles.
Electrical Wire - There is not any long runs for this project so all you would really need wire for the power cord. If you are only making a short power cord you probably could use 14 gauge speaker wire and then get round shoe laces and sheath the wire with that, or gutted para-cord would probably work just as well. I got the wire from Sundial Wire they specialize in reproduction vintage electrical wire. It was $1.40 / ft for the wire I wanted but they have a very large assortment but I stuck with basic brown to keep it simple.
Socket - I had an EDISON Centennial Repro Light that I got from a yard sale for $0.50. Unfortunately , it was an exact reproduction done to the socket size! E17 is really not a popular size nowadays. DO NOT MAKE MY MISTAKE....USE A STANDARD SIZE SOCKET!
Light Bulb - There are lots of cool looking and vintage style light bulbs most are in Standard sizes. Pick you bulb first then get your socket. This should actually guide your project to what you want it to look like.
Brass Grommets - You don't need a grommet tool as wood would be too thick anyway. But they come in handy. 1 piece works bezel for switch or other similar sized nick knacks and other piece works as nice grommet for power cord. $3 at HD, probably $1 at HF.
Screws - I didn't use any for this but was going to. If you do always do Brass. Domed Slotted look best IMHO. PLEASE NO PHILLIPS HEAD!!!!! They didn't exist !
AC Plug - Got a circular victorian blug from Sundial Wire. HD and Lowes had a vintage looking one but I would say more 1940's and only in black.
Nail Polish - To keep cloth from fraying on wires. Got it at the Dollar Store. Wanted Dark Amber but don't know if they make that color. Got Brown $1
Step 2: Sand and Stain
I used a Cigar Box so labels were removed and given a good sanding to remove any varnish and adhesive. If you are going to use a Cigar Box make sure you don't use a branded one. The wood is not that thick and some brands go rather deep so unless you are covering it up with veneer or a metal plate, it's more of a hassle then it's worth.
I encountered this issue for a base for a Steampunk PIC Micro Burner that I am at the early stage on. I use Arduino now so don't really break that out much.
After several coats of stain are done and dried I use matte Poly that you just rubs into the wood.
Step 3: Drill Holes
You are probably right, and this is your option. I figured the box would have been the color they wanted back then and then drilled it. Since almost every hole is covered, It didn't matter to me. Again it is your choice.
I used painters masking tape and then marked all spots to drill.
To be honest I didn't drill all the holes at once as I wasn't sure what direction I was going to go with the wires coming our of the top in the back and going to the brass terminals.
Step 4: Add Your Hardware, Connect Your Wires
Brass Grommet put in back hole for Power Cord Grommet
Brass Terminals were taken from the Centennial Edison light bulb base.
Socket and wooden neck was used from the Centennial Edison light bulb.
Switch inserted from inside. The wood is soft and hole was purposely drilled one size down. this eliminated the need for a nut on the outside. it does not move at all but you could hot glue it in if you wanted.
Porcelain Tubes ( original old tubes ) put in the back top for running top wire
Wired it up internally
Top wires run through Porcelain Tubes to the Brass Terminals NOTE: THESE ARE NOT HOT ! They are for aesthetics only! All actual power is internally wired!
Hot Glue ( yes its black hot glue still from another project ) . Glued Tubes in, glued in a strain relief for the Power Wire, and glued in show wire coming out of tubes.
Step 5: Done and Tested
Standard Socket - Had to get a E17 light bulb from ebay because after over 30 years the Edison Repro was dead. I still prefer the looks better but fails in the Illumination department. Use a Standard Socket you will have a much broader range to choose from.
Brass Grommets - Cheap and had many uses for Steampunk projects
Vintage Wire Source - Sundial Wire. There may be other places out there but I never knew of them.
Plan Ahead - I wing it, I always do. If your gonna do it ,plan ahead. Do what I say not what I do!
Again it's only a Box with a light Bulb but hopefully I gave someone some ideas for future projects.