Introduction: Make a Balancing Bottle Lamp

About: Creating DIY projects

I've seen other people make these balancing bottles. I thought they were cool so I decided to build me one, but I wanted to make mine a bit different so I made a lamp out of it. This project makes use of some steps that I have made other Instructables about. I will link to those in the appropriate steps.


Step 1: Prepare the Bottle

In a previous project I cut off the bottom of a large glass bottle and used that to make a candle. Now is the time that I'll be using the rest of that bottle.

Before I can start adding the parts, I need to sand smooth the cut surface of the bottle.

Here are the links to some reference Instructables:

Step 2: Test Fit the Parts

Now I'm ready to add the parts for the lamp; a light socket, a threaded post that connects to the socket, and a nut to hold the threaded post to the lid of the bottle. In order to attach the post to the lid, I need to drill a hole into the lid. The post is 3/8" in diameter so that's the size of bit I'll use. Next I'll test fit the parts, including putting in the light bulb.

Step 3: Find the Center of Mass

With all of the parts together, I need to find the center of mass. I pick the bottle up with 2 fingers, one on either side, and see how it balances. I try this several times, re-positioning my fingers forward and back, until the bottle doesn't tip either way when I pick it up. I use a piece of tape to mark this point. It may not be the exact center of mass, but it's close enough for this project.

Step 4: A Bit of Info

I'm using this 3/4" thick pine board that I have already cut for this to demonstrate where the angle of the board needs to be cut. You can see that where this board is cut at an angle, the middle of that flat surface is perpendicular to where I marked the center of mass for the lamp. Again, this doesn't have to be completely perfect, but reasonably close. But keep in mind, the thinner the board is that you use, the more exact it has to be. Thicker boards will give you more leniency. This one can even be rocked back and forth a small amount, so balancing is fairly simple.

Step 5: Drill the Hole

I'm going to make a new one that will hold the bottle at a different angle, using this 1/2" thick oak board. I start by making a mark down from the end about 3" and another mark centered on the width of the board. The distance from the end is just a personal preference, depending on how you like the way it looks. I'm using a hole saw that is slightly larger than the neck of my bottle, but first I'll be drilling a 1/4" hole for my guide bit. On the previous board I drilled the hole straight in. This one I want to drill it at about 45 degrees.

Step 6: Mark and Cut the Angle

After drilling the hole, I put the bottle into it and position it and the board at the angle that I want it to balance. I use the grid on my work mat to help me align everything. This vertical line that I'm drawing is lined up with the center of mass for my lamp. I draw this horizontal line through the middle of the vertical line. This will be where I cut the board. I use a straight edge of my square to make sure the line is straight. I extend that line along each of the sides of the board, using my square to make sure the line goes straight across. This will help me make sure I'm cutting it straight. You can cut this with a hand saw, but I'll be using my jig saw, set to the same angle as the mark that I drew.

Step 7: Adjust If It Doesn't Balance

Now that it's cut I test it out. Something is wrong because it won't balance, it keeps tipping to the left. I double check the center of balance for the lamp, that still looks good. Looking again from the side, the center of balance is aligned correctly with my mark. I happen to notice that part of the bottle is resting on the board. Some of the bottles weight is being supported directly by the board here, shifting the balance point. This is where things are being thrown off balance. To adjust for that I cut off a bit more, just estimating about a 1/4" more to remove. It still didn't balance, so I cut off another 1/4". Now it balances well.

Step 8: Wire Up the Cord

Next I'll take all of the parts apart so I can attach the cord for the lamp. I take apart the light socket, which is held together with one screw from the inside of the socket. Then I feed the cord through all of the parts, one by one. Now it's time to connect the wires to the lamp socket. On this plug, one prong is wider than the other one.

When plugged into an outlet this wider prong is the neutral wire and the narrower prong is the hot wire. In the light socket, the 2 screw I connect these wires to are different colors. The neutral wire needs to connect to the silver colored screw and the hot wire needs to connect to the brass screw. I bend the end of the wire so that it wraps around the screw clockwise. This helps it to grab better as I tighten the screw.

Step 9: Re-Assemble the Parts

Now I can put all of these parts back together. I pass the cord through the hole in the board, balance the bottle, then plug it in.

Step 10: Another Option

Now I want to show another option. When I was at the hardware store looking at boards, I saw a 2" x 2" piece of redwood that was already cut at 45 degrees on each end. I cut off these ends and glued them together side by side. I align this with the previous piece to mark where the hole need to be drilled. I placed it front down on the newer piece and traced out the hole, then I used the same steps as before to drill out the hole. After drilling out the hole, I test it with the lamp. It balances well, so next I'm going to a show couple of things about this design.

Step 11: You Can Give It Feet!

First I measure the distance from the bottom to where I drilled the hole, which turns out to be about 6". The next thing is the base. Although you want the center of mass for the bottle to be above the middle of the base, you can actually carve out the middle and give it some feet. This actually helps it balance a little bit easier because it doesn't have the full bottom to rock back and forth on as easily.

Step 12: Additional Bottle Support With Thicker Wood

The final thing that I want to show is this; the neck of this bottle is a bit short compared to the thickness of this wood. This could result in the lamp coming out of the opening. To address this issue I'm going to add this 1/4" dowel to help support the bottle in place. I drill a hole in the center of the top all of the way through into the hole. The dowel can slide in snugly, so now I put the bottle back into place to see how well it works.

I want the dowel to go into the gap between this glass ridge and the lid so that it catches. After testing it and seeing that this is working, I remove the dowel, add a bit of glue, then reinsert the dowel. This isn't a perfect way to glue the dowel into place, but it will be more than effective for this project. I position the dowel as far down as it can go and still allow me to remove the bottle. After the glue dries I will cut off the excess dowel. But before the glue dries, I wipe away the excess glue with a damp paper towel. And finally, I leave it to dry.

Step 13: And That's It!

And that's all that I've done for now. I want to make some decorative modifications to each of these stands. Any tips on how I can improve their appearance would be greatly appreciated, so please leave a comment on what would be awesome ways that I can finish each of these.

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