Introduction: Sleeper Lamp

I had an off cut from an oak sleeper I made a Sleeper TV unit from that had been laying around for a while so I decided to make a nice bedside lamp from it. I used the wiring from a floor standing lamp that you can buy pretty cheaply from DIY stores or Ikea, you could make your own, adding an inline switch, but for a one off piece I don't think there would be much cost difference once you had bought the wire, lamp holder, switch and plug. Plus my electrical skills are limited at best so I went for this option!

Wood 100mm x 100mm (4" x 4")

Old or new lamp to re-use

Epoxy glue

Sand paper

Oil for finishing

Lathe and associated tools (but you could use a drill instead)

Saw to cut wood to size

Sander (I used a belt and a random orbital sander)


Step 1: Take Apart the Lamp

This step will vary somewhat from lamp to lamp but essentially you need to get all the wiring and bulb holder out of the lamp in one piece.

As my lamp was a floor standing lamp part of the wire went through a metal tube so I had two options - cut the tube or remove the lamp holder from the wire and pull the wire through. I went the latter route.

Being a modern lamp nothing is straight forward to take apart as most things are help together with hidden clips and springs that make the manufacturing easy and they are not designed to be taken apart. I would have assumed that the easiest way to remove the wire from the metal tube would be to unscrew the switch and remove the wire, but there were no screws in the switch and having a little try to prize open with a screwdriver I thought I'd remove the lamp holder instead. The lamp holder was located in a plastic 'bowl' which had been glued to it, so this just needed a bit of plier persuasion to separate the two. The main part of the lamp holder comes in two parts which are help together with plastic clips. You can put a thin screwdriver in the top of the clips and spread them while forcing the two pieces apart. You can then see that the wires are held in to the holder by a couple of metal springs which let wires in and lock in place when they are pulled away from the holder. I could see a couple of small holes adjacent to these springs so popped a small allen key in to the hole which moved the springs a little and after a bit of pushing, pulling and getting annoyed I got the wires out. I think it goes with out saying that you should do this when the lamp is not plugged in!!

Step 2: Wooden Base

My piece of wood I had was fairly square but it has been drying out for a few months and had warped a little, but as the lamp was going to end up fairly rustic I didn't bother to square it up or plane it just a bit of sanding.

I need to cut a hole in the end of the wood with a recess to fit the lamp holder in to. I could have done this with some fostner bits I guess but I decided I'd get a nicer fit by cutting the holes on my lathe.

I first cut the block to a nice length and then marked the centres on both ends and mounted it in my lathe. I stated by cutting a tenon to the end of the block and then turn the wood round and mount it in my chuck. Once I had done this I could get the the end of the wood to start cutting the holes. I did my turning with a fairly slow speed as the block was an uneven square in section and quite imbalanced.

I used a set of carbide woodturning chisels to hollow out the wood as I am not a good turner and if I ever use bowl gouges I always end up 'catching' which giant bits of wood flying about everywhere. I've used these carbide chisels a few times now and had not had a catch yet - as a beginner and someone who will never do loads of woodturning I love these chisels as I can now hollow things out which I always struggled with before.

Once I got close to the correct dimensions of the hole I kept stopping and testing the fit, all it takes is a little patience. Once I had a nice fit I removed the wood and cut off the tenon. I then drilled a 12mm hole right to the underside of the base and created a channel for the wire with a chisel.

I then sanded the whole thing with 80, 120, 180, 240 and 320 grit sandpaper.

Step 3: Wiring

The wiring was fairly easy as the wires went in with a push fit type connector (much easier than taking apart). Once it was wired I mixed some epoxy and glued the lamp holder to the wooden base.

I also added a wedge of walnut to the hole at the bottom so that the wire wouldn't be accidentally pulled too hard say if the lamp ever got knocked off the table. I already had a small bit of walnut about the right size so I created a wedge shape to the end with my chisel and pushed in the wedge fairly hard until it stopped. Marked the end, removed it, chopped to size and reinserted it to the base.

Step 4: Finishing

I then added a couple of coats of finishing oil to the wood and added the light bulb.

The bulb I had I got from Ikea (Nittio) but you can get these cage filament bulbs in quite a lot of places. Surprisingly the Ikea one is an polycarbonate globe and an LED bulb so should be OK around children too as there is no glass to break!