Introduction: Vintage Fire Extinguisher Lamps
These funky lamps stemmed from my childhood memories and industrial design ideas. My grandparents and parents for as long as I could remember had these giant brass fire extinguisher lamps. They were always a huge focal point of the room and provided a lot of light. I always thought they were cool and they always seemed to be a conversation piece for visitors. I wanted to carry on the family tradition with my own variation of these lamps. With the assistance of my significant other (check out his Instructables page! https://www.instructables.com/member/Jared_Sams/) and his awesome welding skills we were able to design and create a chic stainless steel lamp shade to compliment the stainless steel vintage soda acid fire extinguishers.
Looking for a fun industrial looking set of lamps that are sure to get compliments...? Follow these plans and make your own!
Step 1: What You Need to Get Started
- Two vintage fire extinguishers
- Two 8 ft. lamp cords
- Two industrial vintage light sockets
- Two heavy duty 10 inch lamp harps
- Two vintage Edison 60 watt light bulbs
- Two stainless steel 1/4-20 acorn nuts
- Four stainless steel 1/4 x 1 fender washers
- Two 6 inch threaded pipe nipples for lamps
- Two rubber grommets 9/16OD x 1/4ID
- Two zip ties
- 3/4 inch x 100 ft. x 0.276 Roll 304 stainless steel banding
- 308L stainless steel filler wire
- At least 12 inches of chrome pipe
- Tape measure
- Sewing measuring tape
- Speed square
- Phillips screw driver
- Flat head screw driver
- Safety glasses
- Sharpie or writing utensil
- Drill bits
- Drill press
- Locking c-clamp pliers
- Small pair of channel locks or pliers
- 1/2 in square tube
- Welding pliers
- Small locking pliers
- Hand drill
- Tin snips
- 1/4 in pipe tap
- Center punch
- Disc/belt grinder
- Die grinder
- Round file
- Side cutters
- Angle grinder
- Metal cutting chop saw
- Lamp shade jig (how to make in tutorial)
- TIG welder
- Welding hood
Lamp Shade Jig Materials and Tools
- Scrap wood or MDF board at least 17" x 34"
- One 2" x 4" board at least 5 ft long cut into four 13.5" pieces
- 16 2 inch construction screws
- 10 feet of 1/2 inch steel conduit pipe
- Measuring tape
- Framing square
- Circular saw
- Hand Drill
- Drill bit
- Scrap wood stick with two holes
- Angle finder
- Forstner bits
Step 2: Assemble the Lamps
Make Holes in Top of Lamp
- Unscrew the top part of the fire extinguisher.
- Use a center punch and a hammer to punch a starter dimple into the center of the top.
- Step drill holes using your drill bits and drill press. The largest hole should be drilled with a 5/16 bit.
- Using a die grinder clean up the ends of the holes.
- Gently use a 1/4 inch pipe tap to create threading inside your hole. This will allow you to screw your threaded pipe nipple into the top.
- Trick to using the thread tap correctly: After about every quarter of a turn reverse the direction to cut off the bur as it cuts threads.
Thread the Pipe Nipple into the Top to Check the Fit
- If you used the tap correctly your pipe nipple should fit just snug.
Cut the Chrome Pipe into Two 5.5" Pieces
- Using the chop saw cut the chrome pipe into two 5.5" pieces.
- Use the disc/belt grinder to clean up the rough edges of the each pipe.
- Take your round file and file out the rough edges of the center of each pipe.
Pre-assemble Top of Lamp Parts to Check the Fit
- Thread the pipe nipple into the top of the fire extinguisher.
- Place chrome pipe over pipe nipple.
- Then put the bottom of the lamp harp over the pipe nipple.
- Finally thread the bottom of the lamp fixture onto the pipe nipple. It should be a snug fit.
Drill Holes into Lamp Base for Cord
- Take the base of the fire extinguisher and at the seam in the back measure and mark from the base 3.5" up.
- Center punch the mark lightly so you don't dent the fire extinguisher.
- Step drill using your drill bits and hand drill up to a 23/64 bit size.
Place Rubber Grommets and Cord
- Before placing the grommet in the hole in the fire extinguisher, pull the cord through the grommet.
- Pull the end of the cord through the hole in the base. Then gently push the grommet into the hole using a small flat head screw driver.
Place the Zip Tie Around Cord
- Pull the cord up through the lamp hardware to the position it will be sitting when all assembled.
- Take the sharpie and mark on the cord at the hole down at the base where the grommet is located.
- Pull the cord all the way up through the top until you can see where you marked.
- Put a zip tie around where the mark is, tighten, and then cut the end off with side cutters.
- Pull the cord back through until you can't pull any longer and the zip tie has started touching the grommet on the inside. This will help prevent someone from pulling on the cord and the cord becoming detached from the lamp hardware.
Attach the End of Cord to Lamp Socket
- Pull the end of the cord up through the top, pipe nipple, chrome pipe, and base of lamp hardware.
- Examine your cord and determine which wire is neutral and which wire is hot. If you feel the sides of the wire, typically the wire that has a line or bump on the side is the neutral wire. If you follow that wire all the way down to the plug you will find that it is connected to the large prong of the plug. In most outlets the large hole is the neutral connection. If you are unsure, follow instructions online to check your outlets by removing the plates. NOTE: IF YOU ARE UNSURE OR HESITANT DO NOT CHECK YOUR OUTLETS. ALWAYS BE SAFE, CHECKING YOUR OUTLETS PUT YOU AT RISK OF ELECTRIC SHOCK BECAUSE THEY ARE LIVE WIRES!
- Look at the light fixture and determine which connection is neutral and which is hot. Typically the silver connection is neutral and the copper or gold connection is hot.
- The way I remember it is the wide blade on the plug is the white wire. Then in the black "hot" wire goes to the brass screw and the white "neutral" wire goes to the silver screw.
- Attach each corresponding wire to each connection with a phillips head screw driver. You may need to strip each wire to make them long enough to wrap around the screw connection. These mechanical connections need to be tight, loose electrical connections lead to increased contact resistance and that leads to heat which could lead to fire.
- After connecting both wires, reassemble the lamp fixture.
Assemble Light Bulb Socket Base and Screw in Light Bulb
- Once all the wiring is connected to the lamp fixture, screw it to the remaining parts of the fixture and position it the way you desire.
- Screw in your Edison light bulb to the fixture.
- Attach the remaining top of the harp.
- Plug lamp in and turn on to test the connection. If everything was connected right you should have light!
Step 3: Build Lamp Shade Jig
Create Top and Bottom of Jig
- Using your scrap MDF/wood, framing square, and sharpie make 3 lines, two 15.25" apart and one in between.
- Nail your scrap stick to the center of the center line, then use your pencil to start drawing a circle from one of the outside lines. You will be drawing a 15.25" diameter circle on your wood. You can also do this by using a nail, string, and pencil.
- Use an angle finding ruler or speed square to mark lines at every 45 degree intervals around the circle.
- Take the bottom of one of your 1/2" conduit pipes and trace around it at every 45 degree interval inside the large circle. The idea is to have the edge of the conduit pipe touch the outer edge of the 15.25" circle, use the conduit pipe circles to guide the forstner bit later when you drill the holes.
- Use your tape measure to measure the diameter of you conduit pipe and find the closest forstner bit that will match. We used a 5/8 inch bit.
- Using a hand drill and forstner bit, drill holes in the MDF/wood where you traced your pipe.
- Using a circular saw cut your MDF/wood just outside your large circle, this will be your top piece for the jig. We left about an inch outside the circle.
- Place the top piece on top of the remaining MDF/wood and clamp.
- Using the forstner bit and the holes in the top piece as a guide, drill partial depth holes into the bottom piece so the pipes can set down in them but not pass through the bottom.
Cut Pipes and 2x4
- Take your pipes and using a chop saw cut eight 15" pieces. It is okay if the edges stay rough, you don't need to clean them up. They'll be a little long so then can stick above the top board for the welder's ground clamp.
- Using a circular saw or miter saw cut four 13.5 pieces of your 2x4 board.
Drill Holes for Construction Screws for 2x4's
- With the top and bottom pieces of jig sandwiched together take one of your 2x4 cuts and place the end in each corner and trace around it. Leave enough space between on the outside of the pipes so you can slip the banding between the 2x4 and the pipes.
- Using your hand drill and drill bit that will fit the size screw you choose, drill two holes through both boards in the traced 2x4 area.
- Take the top board off the bottom board and replace it with your four 2x4 pieces.
- From the bottom of the bottom board screw your construction screws through the bottom piece into the 2x4's.
- Place the top board on top of the 2x4 pieces and screw it ;in place to the 2x4's with the predrilled holes.
- Take your pipes and drop them down into their holes starting from the top board into their corresponding holes in the bottom board.
Voila! You have your lamp shade jig and are ready to assemble your lamp shade!
Step 4: Build Lamp Shade
Cut Stainless Steel Banding Pieces
- First measure your pieces with a tape measure.
- Mark with sharpie using a speed square to make a straight line on strapping.
- Cut with tin snips.
- Four 48" strips for bottom and top hoops
- Four 193" strips for center spirals
- Four 27" strips for side braces (these will be folded in half)
- Two 32" strips for center cross bars (these will attach to the lamp harps)
Grind Stainless Steel Banding Pieces
When we purchased the stainless steel banding online we didn't know that it would have manufacturer branding stamped into the banding, so we needed to grind this off. We ground the inside of the banding which had less of a stamp imprint with an angle grinder. We left the stamp on the inside of the lamp shade for an industrial look. You may not have to grind if you get unstamped banding, or you may choose to leave it.
Weld Top and Bottom Hoops
- Take your four 48" strips one by one and wrap them tightly around the 8 pipes in the jig.
- Clamp the ends together overlapping one of the pipes.
- Clamp your ground clamp to the welder to the end of one of the pipes.
- Tack weld the ends together but not to the pipe itself.
- Remove the hoop from the jig.
- TIG weld the remaining parts of the ends on the inside and outside of the hoop.
- Using the angle grinder clean up the welds on each hoop making it easier to weld the center spirals.
Make Side Braces
- Fold your 27" pieces completely in half joining the rough ends together with a clamp.
- Sandwich two pieces of scrap strapping in between the folding edge. The two scrap pieces will keep the pinched area from being to tight and give enough clearance for the two spiral bands later.
- Using a hammer pinch the folded edge tight.
- Once pinched, draw guide lines on the side braces where the spirals will line up.
- The spirals will loop around four times, so on two of the braces you will have 5 guidelines and on the other two you will have 4.
- The brace with 5 guidelines will be the starting brace and the welds will start from the top to the bottom.
- The brace with 4 guidelines will be directly opposite on the other side of the shade, so each weld will be offset from the front brace.
- Front Brace: 5 (3/4") marks at 2 7/16" intervals starting at the very top.
- Back Brace: 4 (3/4") marks at 2 7/16" intervals starting at about 1 15/16" from the top.
Put Top and Bottom Hoops and Side Braces into Jig
- Put two hoops into the jig around the pipes. One at the very bottom and one at the top.
- Put the side braced around the two hoops.
- Push the top hoop all the way up to the top of the jig and brace and use small c-clamps to hold in place against the top of the jig.
Wrap Center Spirals and Tack
- Take one center spiral cut and wrap it clockwise around the jig top to bottom, making sure with each revolution to place the strapping between the folded side braces.
- Take the other center spiral cut and wrap it counter clockwise around the jig top to bottom, in similar fashion to the first spiral.
- Tack weld the top of each spiral in place to the front side brace.
- Go to the back side brace and pull each spiral tight and position them on the first guideline mark. Have a partner pull the spirals tight while tack welding in the first guideline mark. NOTE: MAKE SURE BOTH YOU AND YOUR PARTNER ARE WEARING GLOVES AND WELDING HOODS FOR SAFETY.
- Move back to the front side brace and position the spirals in the next marked guideline. Have your partner pull the spirals tight on the opposite side, and tack weld the spirals into the guideline.
- Continue moving one by one around the lamp shade, pulling it tight, and tack welding the spirals into the guideline positions until you have made it to the very bottom of the spirals.
- Snip the excess strapping from the spirals and tack to the bottom hoop.
- Tack weld the top and bottom hoops to the side braces.
Remove the Lamp Shade from the Jig
- Unscrew the top screws from the top of the jig.
- Gently pull up and remove all pipes from the inside of the lamp shade.
- Gently pull the lamp shade out of the jig.
Finish Welding the Lamp Shade
- TIG weld all the pieces that were tack welded.
- TIG weld the inside pieces of the lamp shade.
Build and Weld the Crossbar
- Using the 32" piece of strapping and the 1/2" piece of square tube, mold the strapping around the end of the square tube. This may be done by hammering and clamping.
- Take two stainless steel washers and using the square tube and a sharpie mark the washers along the square tube.
- Wearing gloves use a pair of pliers or channel locks to hold the washer tightly and grind down to the lines drawn using the disc/belt grinder.
- Position one of the washers on top of the square tube between the strapping 7 1/8" from the end. (This will be the center).
- Tack weld the washer flush to the strapping on edge. The washers will be the base and top of the center cross bar.
- Flip over and tack weld the other washer 7 1/8" from the end.
- Slightly bend the other ends outwards 7 1/8" from the washers. This gives enough strapping to weld to the lamp shade.
- TIG weld the crossbar into the lampshade one inch from the top.We used scrap pieces of 1 inch square tubing to set the cross bar on as the lamp shade was upside down on the table to initially tack weld it in place.
Step 5: Clean Up Welds
Using a die grinder and angle grinder clean up the welds by grinding them flush with the strapping.
Step 6: Assemble and Enjoy Lamps!
Assemble Lamp Shade to Fire Extinguisher
- Fasten the lamp shade to the harp through the washers using the acorn nut.
Set Up Lamps and Enjoy!
- Set up the lamps, plug them in, and love them!
Runner Up in the
Before and After Contest 2017
Participated in the
Lights Contest 2017
6 years ago
These turned out looking great. I think the shades you made fit the look of the extinguishers perfectly. Where did you find the old extinguishers?
Reply 6 years ago
Thank you! I got them from an antique dealer on etsy. You can google vintage fire extinguisher and many varieties pop up.