PVC pipe is light, inexpensive and easy to work with. You could also use black steel pipe to make this lamp, but I wanted something I could easily modify or remove if needed.
Step 1: Materials
PVC Pipe – 10 ft length
90 degree elbows – 4
Lamp wire cord – 10/ft
Lamp light socket and plug
Glue for plastic
Spray paint (optional)
Lamp shade (optional)
Cardboard coaster (Optional)
Tools: Hacksaw, screw driver, sand paper, copper pipe cutter (optional)
Cost for materials: Around $20
Note: PVC pipe is measured by the inside diameter, not the outside. I used ½” pipe which is around 7/8” wide, but you can use large sizes as well. Make sure you get the right elbows to match your pipe.
Step 2: Measure Up
We recently got our entire basement finished, so the only area left for my messy projects is a small utility room that I share with my 2 roommates; furnace and hot-water tank.
The lighting is terrible, so I wanted to add another light above the work table so I could take better pictures for Instrucatbles! Directly above the table are 2 aluminum heat vents, so the lamp had to be mounted on the wall.
Measure your pipe lengths. For my situation I needed 3 pipes
and 4 elbows. Keep in mind that the pipe doesn’t go all the way into the 90 degree elbow, so you will have to allow for some extra space at both ends. Draw a line at the cut point with a felt pen.
Step 3: Cut the Pipe
You can cut right off the line with a hacksaw, or if you have a copper pipe cutter, you can use it to wrap the pipe first to create a nice perpendicular groove to act a guide for the hacksaw.
Step 4: Feed the Pipe
Feed all the corners and elbows in the proper order, then hold the lamp in place to double check your measurements.
I included a cardboard coaster (optional), so I can add a paper mache lamp shade and a later date. I didn’t use any glue in this area of the lamp, so it will be easy to take apart.
I really like the look of steel pipe and wanted the PVC to Smatch my steel-pipe shelf, so I painted it with spray paint. I sanded the pipe to give it some texture and help the paint stick, then gave it a coat of gray primer and a black ‘hammered’ coat that is supposed to make it look like steel. It doesn’t really, but it still gives a little bit of texture, which is better than nothing. Give it a light sanding after it dries to take some of the sheen off.
Here’s a photo of the painted PVC pipe beside black steel pipe (with fake rust.)
Step 6: Assemble and Glue
After you have all the pieces painted, reassemble the lamp. Keep the cord snug at each corner so the light socket isn't dangling with a bunch or cord showing.
Because I’ll have a very light lamp shade, I’m not too worried about the weight of the light bulb pulling on the wires. If you are planning on adding a heavier lamp shade, you will have to use a slightly different design with a few more parts. I highly recommend Paige Russell’s Lamp Class to learn how to safely wire your lamp.
Plumbers use a special solvent-cement for PVC to form a water-tight bond, but any plastic glue will do like Gorilla Glue or Goop. I used a glue gun.
The only connection I glued was the pipe from the light socket to the first elbow. I want this joint to be secure as I will be rotating the lamp periodically and It will see a fair bit of movement.
The other elbows won’t be moving at all the clamps that connect the pipe to the wall are enough to keep everything in place in place.
Step 7: Attach the Plug
Take apart the lamp plug, slide the casing over the cord, and the attach the wires to the terminals.
Step 8: Let There Be Light!
Screw the clamps into the wall, add a light bulb and your done!
Because the vertical pipe is not glued to the elbow at the top, the lamp can swivel left or right.