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What's in a Lamp Making Tool Kit?

Most of the tools you'll need for this class are things you'd find in any toolbox or workshop, but there are a few specialized items that are necessary and some that will just make lamp building a whole lot easier. As I go through the tool list below, I've highlighted the ones that are mandatory with an asterisk (*).

When buying tools that you don't have yet, I recommend leaning towards quality brands. They don't have to be the most expensive, but I wouldn't look to the dollar store to find them. Poor quality tools are frustrating to work with and can slow down the process. I'll provide links to the exact tools I suggest investing in, but of course feel free to go with whatever tools look good to you. Especially if they are found in your grandparent's tool box. (They don't make 'em like they used to!)


Mandatory Tools

Project Based Tools & Supplies

These tools and supplies are going to be optional based on which lamps you decide to make. You will be choosing one lamp each from Lesson 8 & 9. I've noted under the tool descriptions below the specific projects they'll be needed for.


Mandatory Tools of the Trade

The following are the tools you'll need no matter which lamps you choose to make:

Wire Stripper *

There are two main types of wire strippers available on the market: manual and automatic. The manual versions require some wrist action + elbow grease and come with a built in cutter. If you don't plan on making a ton of lamps, this is the one I'd recommend getting, as it's the least expensive. If you think you'll be making all of your relatives lamps for the holidays, do yourself a favor and invest in an automatic stripper. Your wrist will thank you.


Manual Stripper


Automatic Stripper


Wire Cutters *

I like having two sizes of wire cutters. The larger pair is for the grunt work of cutting the cord and the smaller one is for the finesse work of cutting the wire. If you end up buying the manual wire stripping tool, it will already have a wire cutter built in which will be adequate for the cord cutting, so in that case, I would just get the smaller pair and not both.


Large Wire Cutters


Small Wire Cutters

Box Cutter & Scissors

For general purpose good measure.


Box Cutter With Fresh Blades


Channellock Pliers *

I like having both of these sizes of pliers in my toolbox, but if you only want to invest in one, I would go with the smaller (4.5) pair, as it the perfect size for the size of nuts that are most commonly used in lamp making. For the Table Lamp lesson you will need two tools for tightening, but an adjustable wrench or vise grips will work in place of the larger Channellock pliers if you have one of those.


4.5" Channellock pliers


6.5" Channellock pliers

Small Flathead Screwdriver *

This is one of the most important tools in a lamp making tool kit. I use it to tuck twisted wire ends around socket screws, separate caps and shells (socket housing) for repairs, and so much more! I would definitely recommend investing in one of these little puppies.


4.5" Flathead Screwdriver



Phillips Screwdriver *

This is another mandatory tool. It's used to tighten the socket screws and to take apart and reconstruct line switches and old fashioned style plugs. Make sure you buy one that fits comfortably in your hand and is easy to maneuver. A 6.5" - 8" one will work, depending on your hand size.


6" Phillips Screwdriver


Needle Nose Pliers *

These are super helpful for getting into hard to reach places. Whether you're making lamps from scratch (raw materials) or using found objects like we will be doing, you never know when you're going to need to use these versatile pinchers.


Needle Nose Pliers



Continuity Tester OR Multimeter *

It's important to have a way to test whether or not you've wired your lamp correctly BEFORE you plug it in, so you don't risk blowing a fuse or scaring yourself with the spark incorrect wiring can generate when plugged in. Either of these tools will do a great job of helping you discern this.

The continuity tester's only job is to test non-energized circuits, fuses, switches, wiring, etc. It's the simplest and cheapest of the two options and is perfectly adequate for all portable lamp testing.

The Multimeter, also known as a VOM (Volt-Ohm meter or Volt-Ohm-milliammeter ), is an electronic measuring instrument that combines several measurement functions in one unit, like measuring voltage, current, and resistance. It is way more than we need for this class, but if you already have access to one, it will definitely work for our simple testing purpose. Just set its switch to the setting pictured in the bottom right image below.


Continuity Tester


Continuity Tester in Action


Multimeter


Multimeter Set To Continuity Test



Electrical Tape *

Electrical tape, also known as insulating tape, is used to insulate electrical wires and other materials that conduct electricity. For our purposes, we'll use it to secure wire nuts in place.

electrical tape


Ruler & Measuring Tape *

Elmer's All Purpose Glue * (not pictured)

Cutting Mat * (not pictured)


Project Based Tools

These tools are going to be optional based on which lamps you decide to make. You will be choosing one lamp each from Lesson 7 & 8. I've noted under the tool descriptions the specific projects they'll be needed for.

Hand Drill

I prefer to use a cordless hand drill, but a corded one will work just fine too.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: the wood & plastic Waste Basket Pendant shade options, Faux Dixon Pendant, Thermos Table Lamp, Mug Stack Table Lamp


Cordless Hand Drill


Safety Glasses

It's important to keep your eyes safe from any flying bits that may occur during drilling.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: wood and plastic Waste Basket Pendant shade options, Faux Dixon Pendant, Thermos Table Lamp, Mug Stack Table Lamp


Grip Mat, Clamps, & Wood Pieces

These items will help stabilize pieces for drilling. The grip mat is simple drawer liner and any type of clamps will do as long as their deep enough to be able to fit the work table edge and the wood pieces.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: the wood and plastic Waste Basket Pendant shade options, Faux Dixon Pendant, Thermos Table Lamp, Mug Stack Table Lamp



Grip Mat


Two Wood Pieces (2x2" or 2x4") and Two Clamps

Center Punch

This, along with the hammer, is used to create a small hole in wood, metal, and some plastics that gives a drill bit a starting point and helps it stay put and not wander as you drill.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: the wood and plastic Waste Basket Pendant shade options, Faux Dixon Pendant, Thermos Table Lamp


Center Punch

Hammer

Used by Thor AND by us to make drilling center punch marks in future shades and lamp bases.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: the wood and plastic Waste Basket Pendant shade options, Faux Dixon Pendant, Thermos Table Lamp


Hammer




25/64 Drill Bit

This drill bit is the size I use to drill holes in lamp bases to accommodate a center threaded rod. I find it's the best hole size for 1/8 IP parts.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: The wood and plastic Waste Basket Pendant shade options.


25/64 Drill Bit




Circle Compass

For this class, this tool is used to draw circles that help find the center of round bottomed shades.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: Customizing the wooden Waste Basket Pendant shade option & the Faux Dixon Pendant


1 9/16" Multipurpose Hole Saw w/ Pilot Bit

This multipurpose hole saw works well on all kinds of materials. It is the perfect size to accommodate the threads of a phenolic socket. This one has a built-in arbor (= the part that goes into the chuck of the drill). NOTE: Must buy both the hole saw and the pilot bit. Links to both above.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: The wood and plastic Waste Basket Pendant shade options and the Faux Dixon Pendant.


Hole Saw w/ Pilot Bit




Half Round File

This file smoothes out rough metal edges and removes burrs.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: Faux Dixon Pendant

Sandpaper

I'd recommend getting one sheet of 220 grit and 400 grit.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: Faux Dixon Pendant


Ball Chain

I use ball chain to help me get lamp cord through tricky paths. For instance, if you've drilled a hole in the side of an object and you want the cord to go into that side hole, up through the object and out the top, sometimes it can be impossible to direct the cord or it may get caught on something inside. Instead, I would suggest, securing the end of the cord to the end of the ball chain and feed the ball chain through first, which will allow you to use gravity and tilting to find the path chain and then once the chain is out the top, pull the cord through.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: Thermos Table Lamp

3' of ball chain


Self Adhesive Felt

Adding felt to the bottoms of table lamps is the best way to ensure that the lamp doesn't scratch the table.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: Thermos Table Lamp & Mug Stack Table Lamp


Sized Circles


8.5" x 11" Sheets


Utility Scissors

The are good to have for cutting out center finding templates and general making-ness.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: the wood Waste Basket Pendant shade option, Faux Dixon Pendant, Mug Stack Lamp

Sharp General Purpose Scissors


T - Handle Reamer

This tool isn't mandatory (read: 100% optional), but it can be very useful. I use it to slightly enlarge holes I've drilled in metal, if necessary, to fit the lamp parts or to clean burrs from the inside of lamp rod that might injure me or the cord.

THIS TOOL IS NEEDED FOR: None, it's just a good tool to have for future lamp making.


T-handle Reamer



Not Pictured Here, But Needed:

Step Drill Bits - NEEDED FOR: Thermos Table Lamp & Mug Stack Table Lamp
Silicone squeeze tube - NEEDED FOR: Thermos Table Lamp
5 Minute Epoxy - NEEDED FOR: Thermos Table Lamp


Tool Shopping List PDF

Here's a handy tool shopping list for you to download and print.


What's Next?

Before you place an order for the tools you need, please read through the next few lessons. Each lamp requires specific parts and you'll save time and money if you get them all together!

Once all your tools and parts have arrived, it's time to move on to Lesson 3, where we'll learn and practice proper wiring techniques!

CLASS PROJECT

Share a photo of your finished project with the class!

Nice work! You've completed the class project