Introduction: How to Make a Driftwood Light Fitting Using Fruit Bowls


Our bach (modest beach house) needed new light fittings and we couldn't find anything in the stores that suited its unique inelegance or our unique financial beauty. We didn't really want to buy the light fittings we saw, as they were surprisingly expensive, especially as they weren't really what we wanted anyway. So armed with lamp fittings, driftwood and some $3 fruit bowls, we were ready to embrace something different.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

You will need...

2 Fruit bowls
2 Metres of electrical cable (two core or three core if you plan to earth it)
2.5 Metres of thin copper wire
Copper tacks
2 Mounting eyelets and hooks
2 Lamp fittings
2 Power Saving Light bulbs (15 Watts)
Ceiling rose (if you don't already have one)
Electrical connectors
Pencil & Tape Measure
Jigsaw or Hand Saw
Scissors & Pliers
Hammer & Chisel
Router & Drill

Step 2: Select & Clean Driftwood

Driftwood comes in all shapes and sizes, so find something with a suitable shape and colour for the intended room. I decided to use a single ‘plank’, however you could achieve a similar effect using three thinner ‘branches’. Brush down and wash your driftwood with hot soapy water.

Step 3: Cut Driftwood to Size

Decide where the fruit bowls look best. I positioned mine half a fruit bowl in from the ends with a fruit bowl space in-between. If your driftwood requires cutting, mark out a rough edge and using your jigsaw shape the edge so that it looks naturally worn.

Step 4: Prepare and Level Driftwood

Once the light fitting is installed, you want the fruit bowls (light shades) to hang level to each other and parallel to the ground. To achieve this, mark and chisel out any uneven areas until the bowls sit level.

Step 5: Drill Fastening Holes

Mark out and drill fastening holes for attaching the fruit bowls to the driftwood. Drill a larger hole (suitable for the electrical cable) near the centre of each fruit bowl. To hide the cable from above, you may wish to route a channel from one hole to the other.

Step 6: Fasten Fruit Bowls

Taking the copper wire, thread it through the holes and around points on the base of the fruit bowl, returning once again through the holes. Fasten the copper wires around individual copper tacks hammered from above.

Step 7: Wire Up Lamp Fittings

Push the electrical wire through the centre hole from above. Strip the outer insulation off and connect to the lamp fitting (phase/live and neutral). If there is anyway that the wire's insulation could become compromised and so making any metal live, you may require to connect an earth/ground wire to that metal (depending on your choice of fruit bowl). Use the copper wire, wrapping it around the lamp fitting's shade clamp and the fruit bowl, to hold the fitting firmly in place. Repeat with the second fitting, running both cables along the routed channel above. Finally, connect the two cables using electrical connectors (live to live, neutral to neutral and if required, ground to ground) to a single cable that will be used to connect to the ceiling rose.

DISCLAIMER: Never do any electrical work unless you are sure you have the skills and knowledge to do the job safely and legally. Accidents, and sometimes fatalities, can occur because people do not know what they are doing. Electrical work can be unsafe and illegal if it’s not done properly. If you are in any doubt about doing any electrical work in your home talk to your friendly local electrician.

Step 8: Prepare to Mount & Connect

Attach eyelets to the top of the light fitting, making sure that it is fully balanced with fruit bowls parallel to the floor. Screw corresponding hooks into the ceiling, making sure you are firmly into the joist. Finally, with the power off, mount the light fitting and connect it to the ceiling rose.

Step 9: Savour the Uniqueness

So you now have a unique lighting solution... so much more than a talking point... it looks pretty groovy too.