Introduction: One Dollar Desk Lamp

This is a desk lamp that I made spending only 1$. I used scrap wood and materials thrown away to make this lamp. I spent one dollar to buy the cord with switch from a second hand store. I used scrap wood from wood shop. I found wood shims and pipe elbow in items left free for taking by going to a craigslist curb alert. I found the socket from another curb alert where I found an old broken lamp and I took the socket part of it.

Here is the link to website that I found the curb alerts from: (If you live outside rhode island there should be a craiglist website for your area you can find it if you Google it)

I took the Led bulb for free, in a bulb exchange that took place in my college in which you received a free Led bulb if you turn in your old discarded bulb.

You can use the cord, socket and bulb from an old lamp you own. Let's get started!


Pipe elbow

Bulb Cord


X-Acto Knife/Box cutter

Electrical Tape

Scrap wood (Shims, and other wood pieces)



12 Screws

Wood Glue (I used TiteBond Original)


Hot glue gun

Barc Wood (optional)

Sand Paper (optional)

Metal Sheet

Screw Driver

Tools/Machines Used:

Belt Sander

Spindle Sander

Drill Press

Band Saw

Scroll Saw

Step 1: Wiring the Lamp

You can watch this tutorial on how to wire a lamp.

Although wiring a cord and socket is pretty easy, you have to very careful to avoid any shortcuts.

  • Using a X-Acto knife or box cutter cut the silicone rubber insulation part of the cord so that the wire is exposed.
  • Using an electrical tape, bind the wire from the socket to wire from the cord and make sure that they are in contact. To ensure the connection you can use a needle nose plier to coil the wires to each other. Make sure to do the same thing for both strands and carefully tape them separately.
  • When you’re sure about the connection, screw the light bulb into the socket and test it by plugging the cord into an outlet. It is important be sure not to hold the bulb or the cord while doing so and to leave the bulb on a flat surface. (either on a table or floor surface. )
  • This step is optional. As I didn't want the connection to be noticeable from outside, I wanted to cover the region of the cord that has taped with a cover that I made using bard wood and tape. Cut a rectangular piece out of barc wood that will be enough to cover the region with electrical tape.Coil the barc wood around that region.Using hot glue glue the barc wood to a cylinder shape that covers the taped area. Be careful to not put so much hot glue so that it does not harm the rubber insulation. As hot glue may leave spots on the wood, use electrical tape or any other tape that's sticky enough, to cover the connected edge with hot glue stains.

Step 2: The Wooden Base for the Socket

  • Use a piece of wood that’s big enough to cover the bottom circular part of the pipe elbow.
  • Place the pipe elbow on the wood piece.
  • Using a pencil draw the interior circle part of the elbow.
  • Using a compass, in the centre of the circle you have drawn, draw another circle that has the same diameter of the socket you have. (Mine was about 1.5 inches)
  • Using the band saw cut the outer circle edge.
  • Use drill press to drill a hole in the interior circle you have drawn. We need to take that part out to fit the socket inside.
  • Using the scroll saw cut through the edges of the interior circle.
  • You should end up with a donut shape.
  • Make sure the socket sits in the circle inside and the bigger circle fits inside the elbow.
  • If the hole inside is small for the socket, use spindle sander to enlarge it. Test it by placing the socket to avoid making it too large.

Step 3: The Legs

I used wood shims to make the legs but you can use any other wood piece. But here are the steps I followed:

  • Glue three layers of wood shims one on top of other by covering their surface with wood glue and clamping them together.
  • Do the same thing for 2 other legs, each with 3 layers of wood shims.
  • Leave clamped for 10 hours. (The more you wait the stronger the bond is)
  • Unclamp the shims.
  • Use a ruler to measure their length. Use bent sander or sand paper to sand them to the same length. I also sanded each surface to make them look more neater.

Step 4: Attaching the Legs- Part 1

  • Now we need to attach the legs to the circular base for socket we just made. To do this I used wooden supports to which the legs will be attached in an angle. As I didn't know the exact angle I should have the legs attached, I used sander to sand wooden pieces in an angle.
  • Using the band saw, and a ruler cut out cubes with the same width of the legs.
  • Adjust the bent sander in angle to sand these pieces so that when the legs are attached they form a stable tripod shape. The angle I had was around 45 degrees leaning to the centre of the circular base.

    When you are done with all three shapes, on the circular base for the socket mark three places that the legs will be attached. Two along the diameter in opposite sides and one in the back, horizontal to these two.

Step 5: Attaching the Legs- Part 2

  • Glue the wooden pieces you have cut to the legs and clamp them. ( be sure to glue them to the side with a angle)
  • Leave it clamped for 10-12 hours.
  • Unclamp them.
  • Use the legs you have done to draw their edges on the metal sheet each about 2,5 inches long.(You can make them in any length you want)
  • Cut these three pieces of metal using a snip.
  • Mark 4 points on the metal sheets equidistant from each other. ( like corners of square)
  • These points will be the points where you drive the screws in.
  • Using the drill press drill holes in these points.
  • Place the metal piece on the outer upper surface of the legs and clamp them to make it stable. (Clamping them to the table is the safest way) Attach the metal piece to the legs by driving four screws in the holes passing through the legs and the supporting wooden pieces.

Step 6: Attaching the Legs- Part 3

  • Glue the legs to the mark you made on wooden socket base. And clamp them to ensure stability.
  • Make sure to leave them clamped and unmoved for at least 12 hours.
  • Unclamp them. The three legged lamp should be able to stand on its own.
  • Test this out by placing the elbow on the socket base.
  • If it's not stable enough and the bottom of the legs are not completely in contact with the surface, use a ruler or any other straight rectangular thin tool to mark the right angle to do so. (refer to the image)
  • Carefully sand them, either with a sand paper or a bent sand to right angle.
  • When the bottom surface of the legs are complete contact with the surface and the lamp is able to stand on its own, you're almost done!

Step 7: You're Done!

  • The last thing you need to do is place the socket in the base you made for the socket, and plug the lamp into the outlet to test it for the last time.
  • You're done! Hope you liked it!