As is with many families, when we moved into our first house, we were left slightly "house poor" and buying a house full of furnishings was out of the question. So we did what every DIY'er does and figured out ways to make stuff ourselves. We started out with only a few tools but have since grown as we worked on our house, one room at a time.
Recently, my wife and I decided on renovating our front room/office space. We settled on an industrial look for the room and started working on the designs, using woods and metals for most of the designs. One of the many things that needed updating in the room was the lighting as there was only floor lighting for the room, which was very inadequate. So we added recessed lighting but we knew we really wanted an lighting accent piece for the room. We had seen beam chandeliers before but I wanted to design something more unique.
Step 1: The Concept
This is what we can up with. A large chandelier using two beams separated by metal bars, hung from the ceiling using chains, and utilizing the look of ropes and Edison bulbs to tie the whole look together. However there were several design factors to consider before we could start:
• How far would it hang from the ceiling?
• How much chain would be needed?
• How heavy could it be?
• How many lights would be needed?
• How much wiring would be needed?
• How would we hang it?
These, among other questions, posed many challenges. With the chandelier itself hanging down from the ceiling and the lights hanging even further down, head clearance can easily become a real problem, especially on lower ceilings. We have 10' ceilings and figured we need about 7' of head clearance underneath leaving about 3' for the whole chandelier. If you have 8' ceilings, you could still use our dimensions for an over-the-table chandelier. Our beams are about 8" tall so if we left a 12" gap between the beams and the ceiling, the lights could hang about 15" below the beams. Which meant the chains needed to each be about 20" long. If you want your chandelier to hang down farther, just make the chains longer. More on this later.
Since each beam weighed 25-30 pounds, weight became a concern for using a standard ceiling fixture box which only support about 75 pounds if installed as "old work" (installed after the drywall has already been installed). I settled on installing a beam between the rafters which the the chandelier and electrical box would be mounted to. This provided an easier installation and better weight capabilities than typical old work ceiling fan mounts.
Considering the dimensions of the rooms and chandelier itself, I chose to use 12 bulbs, 6 per beam. This provided plenty of light for the room and would fill out the look of the piece. This meant I would need about 65' of wire.
And since I would need a heavy duty lag bolt eye to hang the chandelier, I couldn't use a standard light fixture ceiling shroud, so that would have to be made as well.
**The following steps will explain the process I used on this project and will use the measurements that I used. Your project will almost certainly have to be adjusted somewhat. But the overall results should be fairly similar**
Step 2: Video!
The video below is from our blog and lays out most of the general steps for completing this project. However, if you like to read instructions or need more detail, you can find that in the following steps.
Step 3: Materials and Tools
I was able to keep the total costs for the entire project under $200. However, I had some of the items already on hand; the pipe, beams, support beam, 14 ga. wire and nuts, and wood for the shroud. However, you should be able to find most of the wood with a little looking around on Craigslist or similar sites. Anything I had to purchase was either through a big box home improvement store or Amazon.
• 2 Beams (check craigslist, construction sites, even landfills; railroad ties would look great) Our beams measured 45"x7.5"x 5.5".
• 36" Pipe (I used .75" steel structure pipe; found here)
• 4 Pipe Floor/Rail Flanges (to go with pipe; found here)
• 18 #12 1.5" Wood Screws
• 4 Eye Lag Bolts (2.25"; make sure it supports high weight and will accommodate the chain you buy)
• Flat bar (I used 8' of 3" aluminum flat bar)
• 25 3/8" Long Rivets (Sheet Metal Screws would also work well)
• 65' Hemp Rope Wiring (I bought mine from Amazon)
• About 4' of Hot and Neutral 14 gauge wire
• 12 E26 Black Sockets (I made sure to get plain ones without an on/off knob; again Amazon)
• 12 LED Edison Bulbs (I bought these antique style bulbs on Amazon as well)
• 1 Pack of Medium Wire Nuts (Yellow)
• Electrical Tape
• Ceiling Fan Box (I used a steel box)
• 2 Joist Hangers (match the length with the width of your support beam)
• 2"x6"Wood Support Beam (You'll need to measure your joist spacing to know what length you need)
• 80" or more chain, depending on how low you want the chandelier to hang (I used 1.5" zinc coated steel chain)
• 6"-8" Eye Lag Bolt (make sure it can support at least 150 lbs)
• Large 7/16" Washer
• 2 2" or larger Chain Quick Links
• 4 medium Chain Quick Links( match the size of chain you bought)
• Small piece of plywood (5"x5")
• A wood strip about 24" long and 1"x.5"
• 2" Drywall Screws
• Drill/Driver (Drill Press is very helpful if you have it)
• Drill Bits and #8 Countersink bit
• 1.25"-1.5" Forstner Bit
• 1" or wider Chisel
• Table or Circular Saw (to cut beams and/or support beam)
• Orbital Sander or Sanpaper (60-120 grit is fine)
• Torch of some kind (I used a soldering torch)
• Rivet Tool (if you choose to use rivets; less then $20 usually)
• Hacksaw or Reciprocating Saw
• Staple Gun and 12mm Staples
• Wire Stripper
• Utility Knife
• Phillips Screw Driver
• Mallet or Hammer
• ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GLASSES AND HEARING PROTECTION
Step 4: Cutting and Coring the Beams
First you'll need to cut your beams to length if they aren't already the length you want. Depending on how thick your beams are, you may need to make several cuts, rotating the beam with each cut until the cut passes through the whole beam.
After making all your cuts, decide which side of your beam will be the top and make a mark down the center of the beam for roughly 70-80% of the length, leaving at least 5"-6" on each end. Next using a Forstner bit, drill slightly overlapping holes down the center of your beam following your mark made earlier. Each hole should be drilled at least 1" each deep. Aim for uniform depth with each hole which will make things easier later (You could also you a Dado blade in a tablesaw or a straight bit and a router to make this cutout). Once all your holes are drilled, clean up the sides of the channel with your chisel. This channel will provide a space to run all of the essential wiring which is not decorative but necessary for operation of the fixture.
Once everything is cut and shaped, grab your orbital sander or sandpaper and do a light sanding of your beams to clean off some of the dirt and grime build up. If your beams are new or you like how the beams look already, you can skip the sanding.
Step 5: Torching/Finishing the Beams
This process was completely experimental since I'd never tried it before (although really fun). The results were awesome. I wanted a worn industrial look and the color on the beams was a little lighter than I wanted at first, so instead of using stain and having to clean that up, I'd tried this method. And as it turns out, it's pretty simple to do and get's good results. Simply light the torch, apply the flame to an area you want to dark, and keep the nozzle at least 2"-3" from the wood (to help keep from overdarkening).
The speed with which you need to move the torch depends on how dark you want to make the wood look. Keep in mind, you can always go back over a spot if you want it darker. But once it's dark, you'll have to sand and start over if it's too dark.
If you don't want to use flames to apply a finish, you can use more traditional methods such as staining or painting.
Step 6: Adding the Metal Banding
With the torch finish complete, it's time to start adding the metal banding.
1. First you'll need to measure the total distance around you beam so you know how long each length of pipe needs to be. My beams were about 5.5" wide and 7.5" tall meaning the total distance was about 26" ((2x5.5)+(2x7.5)). I didn't want to have to drill more holes than necessary, so I cut the aluminum bar about 2" short of the full measurement (24"). This allowed me to later drive the Eye Lag Bolts used to secure the chains straight into the wood. It also made attaching the metal straps easier.
2. To attach the metal straps to the beams, measure 3" from the end of the beam and make a mark across the width of the beam using a square. Then place the edge of your metal band on the line and center the band on the beam so that you have equal lengths extending each way off the beam. Clamp or hold it in place while you drill two holes through the bar, about 1" in from the edge of the beam on each side, for the rivets or screws to pass through. Secure the bar to the beam.
3. Next you'll want to use clamps to hold the straps snug against the beam edges as you hammer or bend the straps around the beam. Bend down both side and use another clamp to hold the sides against the beam. The straps will be bent into a "U" shape around the beam at this point.
4. Now roll the beam over so that the top faces up. With a clamp holding both sides of the strap tight against the beam, make the final bends so that each side of the strap wraps over the top of the beam and lines up with each other.
5. Clamp these final bends down, drill holes like before, and secure to the beam. Screws would work best here since they won't be seen.
Repeat these steps until are four straps are installed.
Optional: Use a hammer to create a beaten and worn look on the straps.
Optional: Use your torch and darken the areas right around the edges of the straps to give the appearance that the metal was hot formed around the beams, slightly burning the beams.
Step 7: Add Hardware
Next I installed the hardware that would secure the fixture to the chains for hanging as well as the metal pipes that separated the beams.
1. First, drill holes about 1" deep centered in the gaps between the ends of the straps using a 3/16" inch drill bit.
2. Screw in the 4 medium Eye Lag Bolts into the holes. If needed, use a screw driver shaft run through the eye hole as leverage to tighten the bolts until the eye is sunk against, and aligned with, the beams.
3. Next turn the beams on their sides. Measure and make a mark at the center of the beam inside (towards the center of the beam) of the metal straps. This is where the pipe flanges will be.
4. Place the flange over the mark and adjacent the strap so that they touch and the flange is centered between the top and bottom edges of the beam.
5. Using the flange as a template, drill your four holes for mounting 1.5" deep using a 3/16" bit.
6. Using the #12 screws, mount the flange to the beam, then repeat for the other three flanges.
7. Using a reciprocating saw (or hacksaw), cut the pipe so that you have two 18" pipes.
8. Set your beams up across from one another and mount the pipes into the flanges so that the beams and pipes together form a square. Tighten the set screws on the flanges.
Step 8: Cutting/Assembling the Chains
This part had a little bit of math in it, but nothing too difficult. I provided an example of the math above. Just plug in your numbers to the equation and use a calculator. You will want to have the hardware completely installed prior to beginning this step. It will make this step much easier.
1. Measure from one corner to the other, eye bolt to eye bolt. Use this for "x" in the equation. "H" is simply the measurement you want from the ceiling to the top of the beams. Plug in the two numbers and solve the equation. This is the approximate length of chain you'll need to cut for each corner (four total).
2. Cut the four lengths of chain equal to the length you just calculated. A hacksaw, Dremel tool, or reciprocating saw and metal cutting blade will work fine. I secured the chain in a bench vise to make cutting easier.
3. Test fit the chains by latching them each to its prospective eye bolt and linking them all in the middle. Check to see that the height is as desired.
If the height is off, re-cut and test again until you are satisfied with the lengths. Keep in mind though that the shorter the chains are, the more difficult hanging the fixture becomes.
Step 9: Make Ceiling Shroud (Box Cover)
The shroud is basically for aesthetics and serves no structural support to the light fixture itself. Therefore it doesn't need to be very strong. I made mine with the tablesaw in about 5 mins using some scrap plywood and a scrap piece of 1x4.
1. Cut a 5"x5" square out of the plywood.
2. Then rip cut a 1" strip off the 1x4 (make sure it's at least 24" long.
3. Next cut two 5" pieces and two 6.5" pieces from the 1" strip (1x4's are usually 3/4" thick, so you need 3/4" overlap on each side of your square).
4. Glue the 5" pieces to opposite sides of your plywood square, making sure the ends and top are flush. Then glue the 6.5" pieces to the remaining sides, again making sure that the edges are flush.
5. Tack everything in place using 1.25" 18 ga brad nails.
6. Lastly, drill a hole in the center large enough for your large eye Lag Bolt to fit through. Drill another hole offset about 1.5" for your wires to run through. Then drill and countersink four #8 size holes, one in each corner for use mounting the shroud to the ceiling.
Step 10: Assemble the Sockets
Putting the sockets together was the single most tedious task of the whole build. Mostly because it took several attempts before I figured out I was doing everything the hard way. Hopefully I'll be able to help you avoid such headaches. Make sure to leave yourself about three feet of hemp electrical wire per beam for wire to run through the chains from the ceiling to the lights.
1. Separate the end of the wire for the last 2".
2. Remove the fabric sheathing. I found it easiest to hold the wires 2" from the ends and slide a thin scissors blade into the sheathing and cut along the length of the wire and then cut off the flap of fabric created.
3. Wrap the end of the sheathing with 1" of electrical tape to keep if from slipping further up the wire (which would ruin the look).
4. Have all your socket parts laid out. Start by threading the wires and sheathing through the safety lock cap. Then thread the safety lock up the wires until it begins to cover the fabric sheathing.
5. Strip 3/4" of the plastic off each of the wires, twist strands tight, and thread the wires through the top half of the socket and screw the top to the safety lock and secure with the provided screw.
6. Attach the white wire to neutral (silver) screw and the black wire to the hot (gold) screw. Make sure the wire wraps clockwise around the screw.
7. Slip on the cylinder portion of the socket, aligning the notches, and press together until it snaps into place. Make sure it is fully seated.
8. Screw on the safety lock cap.
9. Decide how much length you want to hang under the chandelier and how many times you want this wires to wrap around the beam (I suggest 2 wraps or less). Note that length and cut your wire, leaving at least 6" to use for wiring later.
10. Repeat the stripping process for the loose end of the wires, except strip about 1" of the plastic coating off each wire.
11. Repeat 11 more times. Then nurse numb fingers back to health with an ice bath or something.
12. Wrap all of your wires around the beams. Try to keep the hang length and spacing random as you go.
Step 11: Connect and Mount Wiring
This step is where everything really starts to come together. You'll want to take your time and make sure that you don't forget any wires or cross wire anything.
1. Pair off the wires you just wrapped around the beams into groups of two (so 6 groups for 12 lights; a group on each end and one in the middle of each beam).
2. Measure an approximate distance between the group at one end to the group in the middle of one beam, adding 2-3 inches to make wiring easier.
3. Using the extra 14ga. wire, cut it to the length you just measured, strip off one end and remove the black and white wires from the putter sheathing (discard the sheathing and leftover ground wire).
4. Strip 3/4" of the plastic off the ends of both wires.
5. Twist the white wires of the end group together with the white 14ga wire in a clockwise direction and secure with a wire nut (three wires total each). Wrap the connection with electrical tape, wrapping the same direction as the wires and nut were twisted. Repeat with the black wires.
6. For the middle group, you should have four wires in each connection, one to each light and one 14ga to each end group. Wrap and tape wires as before.
7. For the other end, you will again have four wires each. The fourth wire only needs to be about six inches long and will be used later to connect the wiring just completed to the wiring from the ceiling (called pigtails). Connect all wires as before, leaving the loose ends of the fourth wire free for later.
8. Repeat for the other beam, starting in the opposite corner from the previous beam.
9. Once all wires are connected, secure the wires to your beam using a staple gun with 12mm staples (BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO PUNCTURE THE WIRING). I wanted my wires wrapped tightly around the beam so I pulled each wire tight before securing it on the top of the beam. Be careful not to pull on the wire connections as you do this.
10. As an extra precaution, I used cable staples in the channel to keep the wires secured and out of sight.
Step 12: Preparation for Box Installation
Now that the chandelier is mostly complete, it's time to prepare the ceiling mount for hanging the fixture. If you have a ceiling fan box already installed where you'll be hanging the fixture, you may be able to skip this step. I removed the original box for our room because of the odd location which meant installing a new one. However, renovation (old work) ceiling fan mounts only support 75 lbs or so and I wasn't confident they would support this heavy fixture, so I made my own support mount. More on that in a bit.
BEFORE YOU MESS WITH THE WIRING, TURN OFF THE ELECTRICITY AT YOUR BREAKER BOX!!!
1. Prepare the ceiling box by removing one of the side and the top punch outs. Insert the wire coupling in the side hole and snap in place.
2. Use the box itself or the cover that comes with it and trace an outline on the ceiling where you want to hang the chandelier from. Then using a hole saw, cut out the hole.
3. Run any new wires you need through the hole, leave about 6-8 inches sticking out to make wiring easier.
4. Run the wires through the ceiling box and set the box in the hole just cut for later.
Step 13: Add Support Beam
Adding the support beam requires some time in the attic or ingenuity if you don't have access to a crawl space. I had attic access so that is how this will be presented. Make sure to bring all the tools and supplies you need on the first trip if possible. Unnecessary multiple trips are not fun. In hotter areas, a fan is very helpful. I also recommend a headlamp so you can have your hands free to work with instead of holding a flashlight.
1. You'll need to measure the space between joists which you intend to use for the support beam. Then cut your support beam to that length.
2. Directly above the hole cut earlier and perpendicular to the joists, secure the joist brackets using a hammer as well as 2" screws driven diagonally into the wood. Leave about 1.5" between the sheetrock and the bottom of the brackets.
3. Using 3" screws, secure the beam to the brackets and joists.
4. Back inside, secure the fan box to the beam using supplied screws.
5. Drill a 5/16" hole upwards into the beam for the large eye lag bolt making sure it's deep enough to accommodate the full set of threads on the bolt shaft.
Step 14: Connect Wiring/Chains and Install Shroud
Now that the beam and box are secured, it's time to begin final wire connections and adding the chains.
1. Using the hemp wire saved from earlier, strip the wires on both ends in the same manner as earlier. Also strip the ends of the wires coming from the fan box.
2. Attach the ground to the ground screw in the fan box. Twist all the the white wires together and secure with a wire nut and tape. Repeat with the black wires.
3. Pre-drive your drywall screws into the corner holes in the shroud.
4. Run the hemp wires through the offset hole in the shroud and secure the shroud to the ceiling, driving the drywall screws in. Don't over tighten! Make sure the center hole is lined up with the hole drilled into the support beam.
5. With the large washer on the shaft, drive the large eye lag bolt through the shroud and into the hole drilled earlier into the support beam. This will help secure everything to the ceiling. Again, don't overtighten. Tight is good but too tight will start to split wood.
6. Attach both medium sized Quick Links to the large eye bolt. Attach two chains to each medium quick link. Close both Quick Links.
Step 15: Hang Chandelier and Attach Wiring
For this step, you'll definitely want help. My fixture was very heavy (70-80lbs) and picking it up and securing it to the chains by yourself is very unlikely at best and very dangerous at worst.
1. With help, lift and hang one side of your chandelier. Make sure to close the Quick Links before fully letting go of the fixture. Repeat for the other side.
2. With all the quick links closed, run the hanging hemp wires through the chains, one to each corner where the "pigtails" are located.
3. Using the same methods as before, connect the wires from the ceiling to the pigtails, wrap with tape, and secure with staples.
Step 16: Add Bulbs and Test
Finally the last step!
Screw in all your light bulbs, turn the electricity back on at the circuit breaker, and test your lights. If you've connected everything correctly, you're done. If your lights don't come one, time to start troubleshooting.
P.S. Don't forget your pliers on top of the chandelier.