Upcycle Lamps




Introduction: Upcycle Lamps

About: I'm Roope, an electrical engineer in the making, interested in a slew of things technical and non-technical. These instructables, made by me and my spouse Iida (all photoshop work/ photographs, and most of t...

This project is about upcycling old incandescent bulbs into one of those fashionable light chains.

The idea was born out of Iida's desire to fill our home with indirect light come fall, and the fact that lighting candles in a home with rambunctious cats is a recipe for disaster and toasted whiskers.

We scoured the supply/garbage/"I'll surely use this broken car stereo for something"-cupboard for lighting ideas and found a box of old-school incandescent bulbs and a set of dim Ikea-brand LED lights.

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Step 1: You'll Need:

You'll need some kind of light-string-type thing, here we used a 12-LED set with a battery holder and built in buck booster. Almost any type of light string will work, though.

The other main ingredient is a bunch of burnt-out incandescent bulbs. However many depends on your light strip, although most light strings are built in a two-wire configuration (the led-resistor sets arranged in parallel) so that cutting the string to a desired length is also an option.

For tools, you'll need:

-Gloves, in case of broken bulbs. The bulbs can brake into a million tiny and pointy shards, so use caution and protect yourself.


-hot glue or some other binding agent, for instance silicon sealant can work.

-a few hours of time

Step 2: Breaking

Prepare the bulbs by carefully cracking the black glass plug on the bottom of the bulb out of the pewter cap. It's good to have a few spare bulbs in case you break some, since the difficulty of this depends on the manufacturer of the bulb.

You can then crack the internal whiskers off the wall of the pewter neck.

Step 3: Safetyinging

Sometimes the edges are left a bit rough or sharp after man-handling the internals out. Remedy this as needed/desired by twisting the edges inward.

Step 4: Clean Up

The bulbs often have markings by the manufacturer, these can be removed with cheap nail polish remover (the kind with acetone in it). We haven't run across any such markings that won't come off with acetone and a varying amount of elbow grease.

Step 5: Preparation

Prepare the diodes on the string for installation by creating a simple ring of binder around the base of the LED.

This step is not strictly necessary, but makes installation easier.

To save on expensive hot glue plastic, shape the still-malleable hot glue. (wet hands won't get burnt as easily, and stop the glue from sticking to fingers.)

Step 6: Glueing

Poke the diode inside the pewter neck and lock it in place with some glue. An opaque glue might be better if you don't want to have light escaping out the "neck-hole".

Step 7: Done

To the last point, you can block off the light from coming out the wrong end with some wall filler or other opaque putty.

And you're done! All that is left to do is to fret about breaking them accidentally or via negligent placing and cat-proxy.

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    5 Discussions


    2 years ago

    That looks pretty! I agree it's probably best to keep cats away from candles. Ours jumped on the bathroom counter next to one once and singed her butt fur. XD


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks! :)

    Yeah, our candles went in the cupboard after the dumber cat stuck her face in one and curled all of her whiskers...


    Reply 2 years ago

    Oh no! Poor kitty, lol.


    2 years ago

    Love this idea!! This will be great to have outside where we don't have plug-ins and dislike the idea of ugly extension cord... Thank You!


    Reply 2 years ago

    Glad that you like it. Some LED sets also come in with a built-in timer for about 5 hours or so, so they wont drain the batteries in one night if you forget them on :). I recommend getting the type of battery pack with 3 batteries, the type with a buck converter we have in ours will go out in about 10 hours of use (powered by 2 rechargeable 1.2V 600mAh Ni-MH cells).