Introduction: Vintage Circular Saw Table Lamp

What do you do with old junk you have laying around? While the trash is always a option some things seem too cool to throw away even though they may no longer be useful for their original purpose. I purchased a vintage Black and Decker circular saw on years ago thinking it would be a useful addition to my shop however once I received it I realized it had a arbor that doesn't fit modern saw blades and the motor was pretty weak. So what to do with my $30 saw now, it looks to cool to throw away...a lamp! My granddad was always building lamps out of unique items I have a set he made out of old brass machine oilers and one made out of the steam whistle off his old sawmill. Following are step by step instructions on turning this old junk into a cool looking lamp.

Step 1: Gather the Parts

Many of the parts can be found used at your local junk store or scavenged from old lamps. The saws can be found on eBay, shop goodwill or in many antique stores. I purchased the lamp stem for another project from lamp parts store you can also get the lamp socket and shade harp from them. The full list of components I used is below.

- 1 vintage saw preferably all aluminum construction

- 1 Lamp Socket

- 1 Lamp Harp

- 1 cord (I used a industrial style 3 prong to retain the saw look instead of a typical 2 wire lamp cord)

-1 Lamp Stem I used PIST08 from Grand Brass they have a variety of finishes and lengths available make sure to go with the long thread to have enough thread to bolt to the saw.

-3 nuts for stem NU234 from Grand Brass

- 1 saw blade I used a junk one some saws may have the blade in them.

-Never Dull metal polish

-1 Board for base

-4 #8 3/4" long Pan head screws to attach saw to base\

-Shade and bulb of your choosing

Step 2: Gather the Tools

This project can be made with pretty basic tools. If you have the luxury or a plasma cutter or pipe bender they are nice to speed up a couple of steps but not necessary. The tools I used are.

-Drill bits 1/8" for pilots for pan head screws, 3/16" for drilling mount holes in base and 7/16" for lamp stem.

-Grinder with cutoff wheel and grinding wheel

-Circular saw


-Wire cutter/stripper


-Adjustable wrench

-Multi meter

Step 3: Disassemble and Remove Switch and Old Cord

The first step of this project was to remove the old cord and switch or any other parts that may interfere with the mounting of the lamp stem and new wire routing. If the cord on your saw is in good condition you may be able to reuse it for your lamp however in most cases with a saw of this age the cord will have cracks and cuts and need to be replaced.

-Removing the old cord will involve some level of disassembly of the saw in this case the handle was a two piece design and I was able to remove 4 screws shown to access the cord and switch.

-Use a set of side cutters to cut the leads going to the motor and remove the cord and switch.

-I wanted to retain the switch trigger for visual effect so I used a hacksaw to cut the trigger off the switch body. A dremel or grinder with cutoff wheel would also work for cutting the trigger off.

-Once the trigger has been separated from the switch it can be reassembled to the saw.

Step 4: Mounting Lamp Stem

I had decided that I wanted to mount the stem for the lamp off the handle, this allowed me to position the lamp close to center of the saw and to route the cord for the lamp in the same way that the original cord for the saw was routed. Depending on the model of your saw you may chose to mount the stem in a different location.

-Determine location to mount the stem

-Drill mounting hole with 7/16" drill bit. I recommend drilling a 1/8" pilot hole first and then enlarging to 7/16" use light pressure pushing the drill so the bit doesn't grab and break the aluminum.

-Bend the stem as needed so the lamp will sit level. A tubing bender is ideal however if one is not available you can clamp in a vise and slide a larger piece of pipe over the stem to bend it, be careful not to kink the stem when bending with this method. I clamped the stem 3 times in different spots and did 3 small bends for a smooth sweep.

-Once the stem has been bent to the angle needed mount to the saw. Thread one nut up the stem approximately 3/8" so that there is enough thread protruding to go through the saw and install a second nut to clamp the stem to the saw. Tighten nuts using a suitable wrench.

Step 5: Wiring the Lamp

Wiring the lamp may differ slightly from the pictures depending on the components you purchase or scavenge for your lamp. The cord I used was scavenged from a old stereo amp and the colors differ from a typical cord which would have a white neutral and a black hot wire.

-Strip outer insulation from cord. You will need to strip enough insulation from the cord to feed the neutral and hot wire up the lamp stem. Measure the length of the lamp stem and add about 2 inches to that for wiring the lamp fixture. I have found the best way to cut the insulation is to bend the cord in a loop and lightly cut the outer edge of the loop. Be careful not to cut into the wires.

-Once the insulation has been cut pull the outer insulation off the wires.

-Feed the wires through the lamp stem and route the wires through the saw and out of the saw. I used the original strain relief and wire clamp to clamp the wires.

-Strip the wire ends and attach the ground. Strip about a 1/4 inch off the end of the wires to attach to the lamp base. I also attached the ground to the original ground location. While most lamps do not have a ground it does add a level of safety and since I used the 3 wire cord to retain the look of the saw I was able to ground the lamp.

-Remove the base from the lamp fixture, in most cases this will just clip on but some fixtures may use screws. Route the wires through the fixture base and thread the base to the stem. I used a nut to jam nut the base so it would not turn.

-Wire the fixture. The socket will typically slide out of the outer tube allowing access to the terminals. You will notice that one terminal has a lighter color than the other this indicates it is the neutral terminal and should be attached to the white wire on a typical cord. I added pictures showing another socket and a cord with white and black wires.

Test the wiring. If the lamp is not wired properly it will still work however the neutral wire will be switched instead of the hot wire, this leaves the outer portion of the socket energized at all times which is dangerous. I did a quick continuity check with a multi meter to ensure it was properly wired. See attached photo for further instructions on this test.

Step 6: Modifying the Blade

I wanted to have a blade in my saw and make it look like it is cutting a piece of wood to do this I wanted the blade to sit in a notch in the wood base but didn't want the notch to cut all the way through my board. I cut the bottom of the blade off where it sits in the notch. In the pictures I am using a plasma cutter to do this but if you don't have a plasma cutter a cutoff wheel in a angle grinder will work.

-Install the blade in the saw and set the saw base on your board, determine how deep you want the blade to sit in the base and mark the blade with a paint pen or sharpie.

-Layout the line to cut the blade and cut with a angle grinder or plasma.

-Use angle grinder to clean up the cut if cutting with a plasma.

-Use angle grinder to round off the sharp edge of any teeth that will be exposed so little fingers dont get cut while admiring your lamp.

Step 7: Prepare the Base and Mount the Saw.

The base can be any board of your choosing, I had a piece of Osage Orange laying in my shop and used it. Yellow pine dimensional lumber from your local hardware store would work as well and you can finish it with stain or clear coat to your liking.

-Reinstall the modified blade in the saw and set the saw base on the board with the blade hanging off the edge and use a pencil to mark the depth.

-Set your working circular saw on the board in the same manner and adjust the depth to slightly below your mark.

-Determine where you want the saw lamp to sit on the board and place a mark or measure distance from the edge. Place a mark at the front of the blade indicating where the notch should stop.

-Use a straight edge to layout the line to cut.

-Cut the notch using your good circular saw.

-Sand off the mark that you used to set the depth and the mark you place indicating where the notch should stop. I left the remainder of the line I marked on the top so that the saw looks like it is cutting the board.

-Find 3-4 suitable locations on the saw base and mark and drill holes for attaching the saw to the base.

-Place the saw blade in the notch and position the saw where it will sit on the base and drill pilot holes with a 1/8" drill bit. Make the pilot holes about 3/4"-1" deep.

-Before mounting the saw do any cleaning or polishing you would like to do, I have this one a quick polish with Never Dull and then buffed it off with a rag.

-Mount the saw to the base using the pan head screws.

Step 8: Enjoy!!

Add a cool looking shade and bulb to your lamp and your ready to enjoy. The finished product will be something cool that you can enjoy for years and possibly hand down to the kids like my grandfather did with the oiler and steam whistle lamps he made.

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