Introduction: Churn Up the Modified Lamp

About: I like to build things... Sometimes they are cool things.

Nothing is more satisfying than taking something old, modifying it, and making it new. Especially when it is a family heirloom!! In this particular case, I was asked to make this for a friend. It was a little bit out of my "normal" area of operation, but after some research and contemplating, this is what I came up with.

There are many things that could be used for this type of project. I believe the principles would be the same. Just adapt to your project. You could use Mason Jars, Wood Butter Churns, Crates, Ceramics, and more.


Butter Churn, Lamp Socket, Nuts and Washers for threaded nipple, Harp, Cord with Plug (disregard the extra plug in the picture), Lamp Nipple (long enough so you can cut to length), and (not pictured with supplies because it was an after thought) PVC pipe and Wood Stain.

Step 1: Drill a Hole in the Jar

Being older glass, I was bit nervous. So I took it slow with minimal pressure... Just enough pressure to get through. I prefer drilling glass submerged in water rather than trying to position a running water source. That way you don't have to worry about it running consistently in the right spot. Plus it naturally wicks the glass dust away.

The glass had some impurities and bubbles. I wanted to avoid those. So I found a clean spot, and measured half way between the sides and just went vertically to where it looked right but missed any bubbles.

I drilled a hole 1/2" diameter. Since it was cloth covered wire, I wanted to make sure it was not going to snag or bind on it. Once it went through, I immediately stopped the drill and carefully pulled it back out without starting it again.

Step 2: Drilling and Mounting Nipple

Now it is time to drill that top. Again, depending what you use for your lamp base, you will need to modify what and how you are drilling it.

Drill through the bracket that holds the mechanics. Once you get through the bracket, go through the lid. Once you are through the lid, it's time to figure out the height you want your lamp to be and cut the nipple to length. I wanted the lamp socket to be slightly above the churn mechanisms. After it is cut to length, add the nuts to the lamp nipple in-between the churn bracket and lid, and then to the bottom of the lid. I also added one to the top so it was as secure as possible.

Pro-Tip... since the bracket is angled, it could very easily cause the nipple to slant back, making the lamp look like it is crooked. So make it secure, but don't over tighten.

Step 3: Fake Wood (or Metal)

I wanted to cover the threaded nipple. At this point there were two options. Make it to look like metal or wood. I opted to make it look like the wood crank. I used 1/2" PVC pipe cut to the length needed. 1/2" was the perfect diameter to slide over and cover the nuts.

Once you have the length you need, it's time for some elbow grease. Sand the surface to get rid of the writing and make it rough enough to accept the wood stain. Light, medium and heavy sanding, as well as make some gouges. I decided to make it look a little more like authentic wood. I used a sanding wheel to make some deeper spots that looked more like natural wood. I also sanded it so the bottom was at the same angle as the butter churn bracket.

Brush on the stain. There are a lot of options. I used Minwax Dark Walnut Stain. (Another "Pro-Tip"... I used another piece of pipe to test on before I tried the real deal.) Let it dry or use a paint dryer. This is where the test piece helped. I didn't want mine completely dry so I could wipe some off. Then I let it dry over night and wiped it down again the next day.

When I had the finish I liked and it was dry, I placed one nut on the top so it was inside and slightly below the top of the pipe. Next, place a washer, the base of the lamp harp, another washer, and top nut. Tighten it down and make sure the nuts on the bottom are tight.

Step 4: It's Alive...

Time to wire it up.

Feed the wire through the hole in the glass and then through the lamp nipple. Being a butter churn, I had to wrap the wire half way around the paddles. That way, when I tightened the lid back on, it untwisted the wire inside the jar to be lined up with the hole.

Connect the wires to the socket. Follow the manufacturer suggested wiring diagram and use only UL rated products. Reassemble the socket, screw in a light bulb, and give it a test.

Step 5: It's All Done.

Now you are ready to enjoy some light from your newly Modified butter churn, jar, pot, box or whatever you decide use.

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