Inexpensive Bottle Lamp

Introduction: Inexpensive Bottle Lamp

I know there are currently some instructions on how to make these, but I think the way I have done mine is slightly different. These make great gifts and there are several different ways you can change it to make it unique to your own style. I suggest that you read through the whole thing as I have listed some alternatives you may wish to do to yours. 

This lamp cost me about $30 dollars to make but half of that was buying the glass drill but so once you have that you can make multiple for less. I did have some spare parts lying around but, to me it looked pretty professionally done.

Let me know if you have any problems or come across any hiccups when you try it for yourself...I will make any clarifications if needed. Thanks and enjoy your lamp!

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Step 1: Materials

This section lists the materials that you will need to do exactly the lamp I have shown. Again, if you read the whole thing, there will be some additional adjustments that you may like to make which may contain additional materials.

You will need:

1 bottle (here I used  a 750 ml bottle of Smirnoff Vanilla Vodka but I started with a Tanqueray bottle which broke in the process, but you can use any brand, bottle, or size that you would like) - Cost: Depends on brand or if you have one lying around
1 mini lamp shade (be sure to  get a size appropriate for your bottle, I feel the one I have used here is slightly too small, but it's up to you) - also I used a shade that clipped over the bulb, if you choose not to use this type, you will need a lamp harp to support the shade which come in varying sizes - Cost: $5 but will vary with size
1 small wooden bowl - Cost: $5
1 12' extension cord - Cost: $3
1 pack of all threaded lamp pipe- Cost: $6
1 on/off socket- Cost: $6
1 light bulb - Cost: $0.50

Step 2: Tools

The tools you will need for this project include:

1/2" drill bit suitable for drilling glass (about $14 if you don't have one)
1/4" and 1/2" drill bit for drilling wood
Wire cutter and stripper

Squirt Bottle filled with water and a few drops of dish soap

Step 3: Find Center Point of Bottle and Drill a Hole

Before you can drill, you must find the center point of the bottle where you are going to make your hole. In the bottom of the glass, there is usually a dimple that you can feel by rubbing your finger across the surface. Mark your center point.

Before you get drilling, let me make a few points.

First, SAFETY. While drilling you should have safety goggles and gloves on! You should also use general power tool safety the whole time you are using the drill.

Second, drilling the hole in the glass is the most critical and time consuming part of this whole process. If you have never drilled glass before, pay attention. Your drill speed should be slow with minimal force applied, especially when you are starting your drilling and when you are about to break through the other side of the glass. The glass is going to get hot as you drill, you need to maintain the heat by using the squirt bottle filled with water and a few drops of dish soap. This will serve as a coolant of the glass and should be applied regularly. The dish soap serves as a lubricant and will allow the drill to flow more smoothly. This is a very important step, if you fail to keep the glass cool, it will fracture (and trust me, the first bottle I tried did this). When you have broken through the glass, continue the light pressure and slow drilling. I cannot stress it enough, maintain the heat and minimal pressure.

Now, back to drilling your bottle...

Find the center point and get your drilling started. The glass is about 3/8" thick so this is going to take some time. I found it helpful to stand the bottle on its neck after the drilling was started and let gravity apply the pressure. This seemed to help the drilling go a little faster.

I recommend having two people to help in this step, one person to do the drilling and one person to use the squirt bottle to apply the coolant (the water). This will allow you to go slightly faster in your drilling speed and make less stops. If you are doing it by yourself, make sure to stop often and apply the coolant when you do take breaks. Again, don't let the glass get too hot or all your hard work will be for nothing - its better to stop often than have the glass fracture on you.

You are done with the glass drilling process when the all threaded metal rod fits through the hole. 

Step 4: Drilling the Base

In the base, you will need to drill two holes, one centered in the top and one in the back for the cord to come out. For a wood base, I recommend first drilling a 1/4" hole and working your way up to a 1/2" hole so as to not cause the wood to split. 

Step 5: Assembly

1. Insert the rod through the hole you drilled in the bottle.
2. Fix the end at the neck of the bottle by screwing the rod into the socket of the on/off switch and tightening the screw on the side of the socket. If you are using a harp for the lamp shade, you will need to insert this in between the socket base and bottle neck before fixing the base. Each bottle height and thickness of base will differ. You will need to adjust the length of the rod according to the length of your bottle in one of three ways: screwing the rod in more or less to the socket, cutting it using a hack saw, or coupling two all-threaded rods together and cutting accordingly.
3.  Tighten the nut at the bottom of the rod with the base in between the bottom of the glass bottle and the nut. 

4. The next step is to inset the electrical wire. For the one pictured here, I used a 12 foot extension cord. It is a little bit cheaper than buying lamp wire and a plug, however the fit of the wire is a little tighter in the rod so if you do not want to struggle with forcing the wire in, I suggest buying lamp wire as you will have no struggles with this. For using the extension cord, you need to cut the female end off.
5. You will need to insert the wire from the bottom first placing it through the hole in the side of the base. Pull the cord through so that about a foot and a half is through the hole.
6. Tie a knot in the cord close to the backside of the base (you can leave it loose for now, allowing for adjusting later). This is in case the lamp falls over, it will keep the wire from yanking out the electrical connections in the top of the socket.
7. Feed the foot and a half of cord through the rod and out at the base of the socket. Excess wire is okay for now, in fact it will make it easier to work with. You will pull the excess wire back down at a later point.
8. Split and strip a half inch of insulation off both wires.
9. You will have two wires. For each, twist the stranded wires into a solid bunch and wrap around the screw in the socket (you can find more details on the back of the package if necessary).
10. Tighten the screw. Do this for both wires.
11. Pull the excess wire back through the bottom base, pulling the socket close to the socket base. Once you are close enough, slide the cardboard insulation and outer shell over the socket and snap onto base.
12. Tighten the knot near the side of the base making sure to pull the excess wire out from under the base. 

13. Screw in your light bulb and put on the lamp shade. Your lamp is now complete! Plug it in and turn it on!

Step 6: Alternative Designs and Additions

There are several additions or adjustments you can make when building your lamp so here I have listed a few I came up with, but be creative and let your creativity guide you!

1. No Base: You can create this same lamp with no base. If you choose to have no base, drill the back of the bottle near the bottom and allow the cord to come out there. You will not need the threaded pipe for this and instead a rubber cork that will hold the socket (I believe there is a lamp package you can buy for not more than $10 in Home Depot that includes several lamp parts you will need). Also, you probably won't need as large of a hole for this.**Do note that this way will not be as stable so using a larger bottle would be recommended.

2.  Different Base: When I was thinking about what kind of base I would use, I came up with a few alternatives. You will need to adjust accordingly. A basket with the handle cut off but make sure that its sturdy enough for the bottle to stand on.  A wood disk. You may need to drill out more for the cord for this option but a nice wood base would look sharp, weather a stained disk or a log of some sort. Really anything that is sturdy and thick to allow the cord to go through the base will work.

3. Filling the Bottle: Another option you have is to fill the bottle with some sort of colored sand or other filling. If you do not like the look of the metal rod going through the bottle, you can fill the bottom hole around the rod with some silicone and filling  your bottle with colored sands in any way you desire.

That's all the recommendations I have for now, please post any suggestions you may have and enjoy your lamp!

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    Instead of drilling the bottom of the bottle (which tends to be thicker than the rest of the bottle) try drilling your hole in the back an inch or so from the bottom where it is much thinner. Like you, I learned by breaking a few bottles :)