Introduction: Build a Vintage Style Edison LED Light Fixture

About: Make It. Break It. Fix It. DIY.

So, a few weeks back our kitchen light stopped working. GREAT! Like all great florescent lights, it flickered and sputtered when you flipped the switch, and eventually it stopped working. I COULD have replaced the bulbs, or the ballast, or the starter, but lets face it, THIS THING WAS UGLY.

So, I decided to build my own.

I have always liked the vintage style Edison lights, but they are a little dim and yellow for what we would like in that space. LED lights however, are not.

I found a nice LED "Edison Style" bulbs on Amazon, some light sockets, and some vintage style wire. These were all the basis of the design. The wood I chose was pine, as it was relatively cheap, and would take the stain pretty well.

Step 1: Measure and Cut the Outer Frame

The first major step (and it really wasn't major) was to decide the size and cut the outer frame. I wanted my corners to be mitered, so I cut them on a 45 degree angle. The material that I used for this was 1 x 4 pine.

Step 2: Assemble the Outer Frame and Cut the Inner Frame

The assembly of the outer frame was pretty straight forward. Once the 4 pieces were cut, 2 each to the same length, they were ready to assmble.

I used titebond 2 and some 1" brad nails for the assembly. Normally I would be worried about this holding together well, but since this is a light that won't ever move, I think it should be just fine.

Also, I measured and cut the inner frame pieces to the desired design, and made sure they fit snugly inside the outer frame.

Step 3: Assemble the Inner Frame Pieces

The next step was to assemble the inner frame. I used glue and nails for this, with the exception being the small corner pieces. Those were just glued into place and clamped. I didn't want to have any visible nails in the sides of the outer frame. Also I didn't want to use pocket screws or get complicated with dowels. This certainly could be done, but I was trying to keep this simple.

Step 4: Make the Backer Plate

Once the frame was complete, it was time to make the backer plate to which the framing would be attached and mounted to the ceiling.

A piece of thin, 3/16 birch plywood (a scrap I had ) was used for the backing plate. I cut it with the table saw, both to width and length.

The next part of the backer plate was to attach a piece of quilted aluminum panel that I made in this video. The backer plate was used to trace it to size, and then it was cut with metal shears to be the same size as the backer plate.

Also, I cut some 1" spacer blocks. The would be above the backer plate. Their purpose of them is to give the backer plate something to attach to, and to make a space above it so that the wiring can connect. They would be later attached to the outer frame with 1" brad nails and glue.

Step 5: Assemble the Frame

The next step was to assemble the inner frame, outer frame, and backing plate. In the previous step, I cut spacers to move the fixture downward inside the outer frame. The reason for this is to give about an inch of space above the backer plate for wiring and connections. Also, this is the area in which the mounting boards will hide that will be used to mount the light to the ceiling.

Step 6: Stain and Finish It

After all of the piece were cut, fitted, and assembled, they were then taken back apart for staining. This would be the inner frame, the outer frame, and the metal removed from the backer plate (not attached yet).

I used stainable wood putty for the nail holes on the mitered corner joints. The entire framing was then sanded and prepared to stain.

I used a dark oil based stain for this part of the project. I have use this same stain in the past and been happy with it. You certainly could also paint the wood if you like, or even leave it natural. The dark stain just seemed to fit with our decor.

After the stain was dry I applied 3 coats of spray lacquer to give it a nice seal coat. This also added a satin finish to it that looked really nice.

Step 7: Final Assembly

After the finish was applied the light was assembled permanently. The metal was placed on the backer plate, inside the frame, and the inner frame was placed back in place. The inner frame was then attached, from the top side, with brad nails. This was all that was needed to hold the metal and inner frame into place.

After the final assembly, then it was time to figure out where to drill holes for the lights to hang through. I decided on a design and a spacing. I then used a 1/4" drill bit to drill the holds. Tape was used so that the holes could be marked and the holes drilled without scratching the metal.

Each of the light sockets (I used 6) was wired up. Just a simple 2 wires. These were then poked through the holes to the desired length. A plastic tie wrap was use on the back (top) side of the backer plate to hold them at this length.

Step 8: Attach to Ceiling

To mount the light to the ceiling:

  • The ceiling joists were located, and 2 pieces of 3/4 material were attached to the ceiling, such that the outer width of them was the same as the inner wide of the topside of the light.
  • 2 screws (I used black 1 5/8 drywall screws because the blended in well with the light) were used to screw into the sides of the outer frame, and into the 2 strips I placed on the ceiling. I predrilled these holes to avoid splitting the wood very close to the edge of the outer frame.


  • If you aren't comfortable doing the electrical part of these, please find someone who is. An electrician is always your best bet if you don't know what you're doing, or aren't comfortable around it.
  • The 2 strips you attach to the ceiling MUST be screwed into a joist, or them must be attached with toggle bolts so as to support the weight of the light.