Introduction: Steampunk Lamp Planter

About: Arduino and Robotics Nerd, and alumni of FIRST Robotics Team 5683 (Go R.A.V.E.!). Blinking LEDs with Arduino is still one of my favorite pastimes even after years of doing it.

So, after building my Rustic Cork Planter I decided I needed something a little more modern-ish, preferably with LEDs... I got it! Let's combine a reading lamp and a planter into one single contraption! That way, I can have both a plant and a lamp on my desk without overcrouding it! Awesome!

Note: The instructions in this project are intentionally not in a step-by step format. This is to encourage you to be creative in true steampunk fashion, as no two objects should be exactly alike. My build should only be a guideline, not a perfect mold.

So, hold onto your gears and grommets, hit that vote button, and let's go full steam ahead!

Step 1: Materials

Before we get building, take a stop at your local supply depot to ensure you have all the necessary components to embark on this epic quest.


Copper/Brass pipe (I used 12mm)

Copper/Brass fittings for your pipe

a toggle switch rated for AC voltage

a light socket

LED Edison-style bulb that fits your socket

AC rated wire with a plug

Electrical tape

a green lampshade thing (I used a cheap plastic soapdish)

assorted screws

metal plates (Mine are from old CD/ROM drives)

Metal vents (mine are 60mm and 25mm squared, I found them while looking at pipe)

Wood (I have a pine 2x4 and a small bit of 1/8th inch plywood)

Assorted metal junk, i.e. tin cans

A few steampunk eccentricities of your choice


Power Drill


Hot Glue Gun

Super Glue



Pliers of all sorts




Step 2: The Frame and Wiring

This design requires that we have a pipe-frame with wiring through it, something that must be assembled all at once. Please read through these notes before attempting assembly. Also note that you may use a different configuration if it suits you better, mine is just a guideline. As it is very difficult to explain in words, please refer to the pictures for final assembly.

  • The first step is to cut 6 lengths of pipe. Mine are all around 6.5 inches long. Because they are hand-cut, mine also vary slightly in length, this adds to the eccentric steampunk effect. Originally I cut them to 6 and 3/4 inches, this proved to be too long on a test assembly so I cut them down, resulting in several small 1/4 inch lengths of pipe which proved to be very useful for joining the fittings together without seams (which I did at the top of the frame).
  • For the lamp post, I cut 2 lengths 4 inches each, because I found an awesome "woogle" (as my mother calls it) to put halfway through the post.
  • In one of the 6 inch frame pieces, it is necessary to drill a large hole through one side for the wires of the switch to exit.

The wiring is simple: the wire will enter through an L-joint in the base, travel up through a corner, branching off to the switch before continuing up through the lamp post and out the top. The switch is simply an interrupt for the AC power.

  • Remember that AC voltage is very dangerous, so always insulate all of your connections properly before moving on.
  • After assembling, add the light socket to the top of the lamp post.

My frame is hammered together with Cyanoacrylate super glue in the joints. The only joint without glue is the one between the lamp post and the frame, here I sanded the bottom of the lamp post so that it would fit more easily into the socket, allowing rotation.

Now that we have a frame and wiring, let's move on!

Step 3: The Lamp Shade

This here is an interesting bit of work, inspired by old reading lamps they used to put on pianos.

I built mine using a transparent green soapdish I found at a local shop.

First, I cut a notch in one side for my light socket. The plastic is very brittle, so I used a hacksaw for the vertical cuts, then scored the horizontal cut with a knife and snapped it off.

Because it allowed too much light through, I spray-painted the interior with green paint, making it appear frosted.

Then, I glued two of my elbow fittings to the side with the notch, making it appear a bit more steampunk.

As the glue dries, let's finish the frame with some plating.

Step 4: The Sides and Base

Now we need to build our sides.

Note: Before drilling, ensure there are no wires within the pipe you are drilling through.

Here I started by screwing my two larger vent covers on the front and back of the frame. I only mounted the top, as we do not yet have anything to mount to at the bottom.

  • The trick is to drill pilot holes just smaller than the screw, allowing it to thread nicely. I used short screws and washers to avoid having pokey bits out the other side.

In my design, the plant is intended to sit on a saucer within the frame, so having a wood base is acceptable.

  • I cut a piece of a pine 2x4 so that is is the same length as the base is wide. I then drilled pilot holes through the bottom two pipes, and screwed the 2x4 into the middle, leaving a gap between the board and the pipe.

Now we need to mount the vent bits to the base.

  • I fashioned some small angle brackets using some metal bits from the extension slots on the back of an old CPU case. These screwed nicely into the wood base and bolted firmly onto the vents. I added a slight taper to the vents to make them more eccentric/steampunk-y and more planter-like.

For the other two sides, I used the metal plates from old CD/ROM drives I took apart to make a mini CNC.

  • To add detail, I mounted the smaller vents on using brads in combination with some small brass arrows. The brads are glued at the back with CA glue to ensure they are secured firmly.
  • In one side it is necessary to drill a hole for the switch to mount through.

Because these two sides aren't quite wide enough, it is necessary to make additional mounting plates.

  • I cut up a used coffee tin and flattened the sides to make adequate brackets. These were screwed into the side pipes, the exception being the pipe with the wires.

On the side with wires, I am unable to safely drill into the pipe on one side.

  • Instead of the tin, I took a bit of plywood and made a mounting plate which screws into the wood base.

Note: After completing these steps, you may have screws poking into the center area of the planter. I recommend you file these down to avoid accidental injury.

After both sides are mounted, I bolted in the switch.

Now, we need to glue on out lampshade.

  • This is the single instance in this project where I allowed myself to use hot glue. I used it to firmly secure the light socket in the slot on the lampshade, and then to secure this assembly to the lamppost.
  • While the glue gun was hot, I also secured the wire entering the base to avoid loose wires due to jerking.

After this is finished, we can add the bulb and give it a test! I found mine quite enlightening...

Step 5: The Grande Finale

Now we have an awesome steampunk planter-lamp!

My mother's small peace lily now has a very nice home, which it seems to like (it perked up after we transferred it).

I hope you like this project as much as we do, and if you do, show some love by hitting that vote button! Comments and suggestions are welcome, as well as questions if you found anything confusing.

As always, these are the projects of Dangerously Explosive, his lifelong missin, "to boldly build what you want to build, and more!"

You can find more of my awesome projects here.

Happy Making!

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