Introduction: Edison Lamp in 3 Hours

About: I'm an inventor / maker / designer based in Portland, OR. My background is in residential architecture, film set design, animatronics, media arts, exhibit design, and electronics. I use digital design and fabr…

There's no substitute for the warm glow of a vintage incandescent lightbulb. This instructable shows you how to make a stylish, minimal table lamp in 3 hours for around $30.

I've been wanting to design a lamp with an exposed Edison Bulb for a while, and it occurred to me that since the whole point of a lamp like this is an exposed bulb, the rest of the lamp should be minimal and very simple. Why draw attention from this beautiful bulb?

Step 1: Design

I found this awesome switch on Amazon (which is about as minimal as they come) and combine it with the most low profile light socket I could find. All I did was offset the two by 3", then draw an egg shape around them by offsetting the profile by 1 1/4". This gave me a 4 1/4" X 1 3/4" X 2" tall block that everything would fit in snugly.

I designed it in Fusion because I wanted to make sure I was getting the depth right, but there's no reason you couldn't just do the whole project by measuring it directly on a block of wood.

The .f3d file is the fusion file I used to design the lamp. It's got the switch fully modeled and the socket- these might be useful if you want to model your own lamp using the same parts.

The .PDF file is the template you can use as a guide to cut out the parts.

The .stl file is just a 3D file for reference so you can see what the finished piece looks like. I didn't go over the top hollowing out the cavity on the bottom, I just drilled holes with ample room for parts and wiring.

Step 2: Tools & Materials


Vintage Filament Lightbulb: $5

Phenolic Medium Base Bulb Socket: $4

Latching Pushbutton Switch (5A 250V): $7

2-Conductor 18-Gauge Black Cotton Parallel Cord (5 ft.): $6

Rubber Rectangular Plug (Black): $2

Hard Wood (2"X3"X6" piece laminated): $8

Total: $32



  1. Drill Press: This is important because the holes need to be perfectly flush.
  2. Forstner Bits: 1 1/4"Ø, 3/4"Ø, 1 7/8"Ø, 1 1/8" Ø. Every woodworker should have a set of these!
  3. Band Saw
  4. Sanding supplies: I used a belt sander, but this could all be done by hand.


  1. Soldering Iron
  2. Heat Gun
  3. Hot Glue Gun
  4. 18 gauge wire
  5. Heat shrink tubing
  6. Solder

Step 3: Lamination & Drilling

  1. I laminated 3 pieces of 1" Hard Maple to get the block I needed. I thought a 3" tall base might look good, and I was laminating anyway, so I gave it a try. I ended up cutting the whole thing back down to 2" on the table saw because the proportions looked better so this was unnecessary.
  2. 24 hours later I sanded the block down on the belt sander on all sides to make sure they were flush.
  3. With flush sides, I applied the templates with spray adhesive, being very careful to align the templates with the sides of the block. The two templates are different- one has smaller holes to fit the socket and switch, the other has larger holes to allow room for wiring.
  4. The larger holes should be drilled on the back side leaving about 1/4" depth on the top of the pieces. This creates friction for the socket and provides a surface for the switch nut to tighten against.
    1. To set the depth, I marked 1/4" on the side of the block, lowered the bit to align with the mark, then used masking tape to mark the depth on the threaded post on the side of the drill press. I didn't set the stopper nut on the threaded post because this depth doesn't need to be exact.
  5. Using the center marks on the templates, I aligned the forstner bits with the holes and clamped down the blocks. There's a lot of friction on these bits- use proper work holding! Be safe!

Step 4: Cutting the Profile

  1. Using the bandsaw, I cut the straight lines on either side of the profile.
  2. To cut the curves on each end, I made a series of straight cuts ending at the curve profile. This keeps the bandsaw from binding as you follow a tight curve.
  3. With the profile roughly cut, I brought the piece to the belt sander to clean up the jagged edges.

Step 5: Making a Channel for Wiring, Finishing the Wood

In order to wire up the lamp, you need a channel in the bottom of the base to allow the wires to travel back and forth to the switch.

To make the channel, I just marked a line between the bottom hole and drilled about 1/4" deep with a 1/4" Ø forstner bit. With the holes drilled, I used chisels to clean up the channel.

With the channel made, I drilled a 1/4"Ø hole in the back of the base to allow the power cord to exit the base.

When this step was done, I also applied some tung oil to seal the wood and prevent staining.

Step 6: Wiring

The wiring is about as simple as it gets. One wire from the power cord is connected to the switch, the other lead of the switch is connected to one of the bulb socket leads, and the other bulb socket lead connects back to the other wire on the power cord (as shown in the diagram).

  1. Cut some 2" 18 gauge wires and tin the ends. If you twist the wires and tin the ends (soak them with solder) before you solder them to the leads on the switch, they will fuse together instantly and completely.
  2. Solder the wires to the leads on the switch.
  3. Use heat shrink tubing to cover the leads. This might be overkill, but it's a good habit to get into and it will prevent any unwanted contact (shorting out).
  4. Attach the switch mechanically. To do this, I inserted the switch, dropped on the nut, then used a pair of tweezers to keep the nut in place while I rotated the switch by hand. There's no need to tighten any more than hand tight.
  5. Insert the socket and tin the ends on its wires. The socket on mine fits snugly with friction, so there was no need to adhesives on this part.
  6. Connect one of the leads of the socket to one of the leads of the switch. I soldered these and covered them with heat shrink tubing, but you could also to this with crimped end connectors.
  7. Feed the power cord through the hole on the back of the base, strip, and tin the ends.
  8. Solder one of the power cord wires to the other lead on the switch, and the other power cord wire to the wire on the socket that's not connected yet.
  9. With heat shrink tubing encasing all of the connections, encase the wires connecting the switch to the bulb and the cord into the channel using hot glue.
  10. I also used hot glue on the power cable to keep it in place. NEVER rely on soldered or crimped connections to structurally hold wiring. Your wires will eventually short out and you'll burn your house down!
  11. With the plug housing on the power cord, I attached the ends of the power cord to the plug prongs, then assembled the cord end. This part is dead-simple and hard to mess up (the plug is well designed!).

Step 7: Enjoy

That's all there is to it! I did the whole project in about 3 hours (not counting the overnight glue curing). It's very small so there's plenty of space on my night stand, it puts out plenty of light, and has a nice warm glow.