Introduction: How to Make a Stunning Bespoke Reading Lamp

I purchased this rustic table lamp in Mexico several years ago. Simple and stunning. It sits beautifully in our sitting room next to a reading chair and is always a talking point with visitors. There's a growing number of designers and manufacturers that use household and industrial objects to create lamps. But when looking to purchase a similar lamp to compliment our Mexican one, I was struck by how expensive these bespoke objects are and not particularly imaginative nor well made. So I decided to have a go at designing my own, the instructions for which follow. It will take some work, gathering materials, putting it together. And I estimate will cost around £50. But well worth it given something similar in a shop would easily command £100s, and you'll get the huge satisfaction of making the stunning object yourself.

Step 1: The Choice of Light Bulb Is Critical

Without doubt Edison light bulbs (aka filament bulbs) are the best on the market to create a rustic and antique ambience. You can look at Edison bulbs without hurting your eyes. They are more expensive than the new compact fluorescent lamps and cost more to run, but are design features in themselves. The Edison bulb will form the focal point of my rustic reading lamp.

Step 2: The Design and Specifications

The Design is centred on a pile of 5 old books, secured on an oak base (can be any wood), and through which an oak dowel with metal hook is placed. These are the materials you'll need :


1. Lampholder : plain screw, half an inch, Edison thread base;

2. Wire : 3 core light flex braided double insulated, 5mm sq wide, 3amp and 300v - purchase 3 metres;

3. Lamp Switch and plug : plastic for 3 core wire; and,

4. Edison bulb: my preference is the large circular bulb in the middle of the photo in Step 1

Other Materials

5. Oak (wood) Base : say 20 cms X 30 cms X 2 cms;

6. Oak (wood) Dowel : 1.8 cms in width and min of 30 cms in length - I sourced 50 cms so I could decide on actual length when in situ ;

7. Corner Braces : x 2 to secure dowel to base;

8. Hook : I sourced a small basket hanging hook made of cast iron in black;

9. Old books : say up to five. These will support the dowel and form main decoration; and

10. Finishing piece : for top of dowel - can be sourced on line together with supplier of dowel.

Step 3: Instructions - Putting It Together

Sourcing and gathering the materials is a little time consuming but straight forward. Try www.lamps& for electrical items. The books came from a local book shop - selecting books on a subject that's of particular interest will add another twist, personalising the finished product. I found the oak dowel at The base and finishing piece to go on the dowel can be sourced from any decent timber merchant who should offer a service to cut to size and shape sides of the base as you wish. Alternatively you can do it yourself. Stain the oak (wood) in the desired preference would be for a darker stain as shown in the photo to give an antique ambience.

While using the instructions which follow, study the design illustration at Step 2.


1. In the book that will be positioned at the bottom of the pile of books and stuck to the base, cut a 2 cms channel for the lamp wire as shown in the attached illustration. This will allow the lamp wire to exit at the bottom of the pile of the books once the dowel has been secured into the pile of books.

2. Gather the books and position them to one end of the base. Mark on the base where the bottom book is to be positioned.

3. Glue the covers of all the books together to form a single object. Allow to dry.

4. Once the books are solid and secure, replace onto base and mark on the top book where the oak dowel is to be positioned.

5. Cut a 2 cms hole in the books - into which the dowel and wire will sit. Repositioning the books onto the base to mark the hole.

6. Decide on the height of lamp and cut dowel accordingly. I' recommend 30 cms but certainly no more than 40 cms for safety purposes. Then screw the hook brace to the top section of the dowel, and glue the wooden finishing piece to the top of dowel.

7. Using the marked hole on the base, secure the oak dowel to the base screwing the two brace brackets on opposite sides of the dowel and onto the base so that the dowel ends up in a vertical and right-angled position to the base.

8. Attach the lamp wire to the hook and dowel by wrapping it around the hook and dowel. Leave around 15 cms of wire at the hook end so that the lamp base can be attached. The remaining wire will be for attaching the on/off switch and plug, so don't cut the wire until you know where the final table lamp is to be positioned interrelation to wall plug socket.

9. Position the hole in the books over the dowel pushing the books to the base, covering the brace brackets, and glue. Remember that the book with the wire exit channel needs to be at the bottom of the pile of books and glued to base, with the channel positioned at the back.

10. Cut the wire at the end of the hook to required hanging length for Edison bulb and then attach lamp base to wire. I'd suggest the bulb hangs at least 15 cms above the base and clear of the books by a similar distance.

11. Attach the on/off switch to the wire about 30 cms from where it exits the books. Then finally add the plug to the end of the wire for connection. The reading lamp is then ready to go!

Step 4: Finally

I've not yet been able to produce the lamp...because it will form part of a final project which is due for completion by the end of April 2016 . As soon as I've done this I'll update this posting with the outcome. In the meantime, if anyone gets there before me, I'd be very interested.