Lamps From Large Valves




Introduction: Lamps From Large Valves

About: Making and sharing are my two biggest passions! In total I've published hundreds of tutorials about everything from microcontrollers to knitting. I'm a New York City motorcyclist and unrepentant dog mom. My ...

These large stainless steel valves came from an old hydroelectric plant. They are quite handsome and had great potential to become awesome lamps, but a few major issues were holding them back. The first was that the valves didn't stand sturdily on their own, and needed stabilization at the base. The second issue was attaching lamp parts to the hardened steel drive screw and routing wire to the socket, which had no obvious path. This instructable documents the steps taken to achieve lamp transformation status from some super neat old hunks of metal. Hopefully you'll glean some useful info for your own lamp projects!

Step 1: Gather Tools & Materials


  • lamp base (valve)
  • lamp shade
  • lamp harp
  • socket with side out
  • plug
  • finial
  • electrical cord
  • threaded rod to match socket
  • two part epoxy
  • various other metal bits


Step 2: Stabilize Valve Bases

These gorgeous valves were also very tippy, so I asked my friend to weld stainless steel bases on them. While I have welded, I'm long out of practice and wasn't very good at my best. Since I wanted the lamps to look nice, I paid a professional to do this welding for me.

Step 3: Attach Lamp Stem

Attaching the threaded rod for the lamp assembly was the most challenging part of this project. I didn't have anything that quite fit the internal threading of the drive rod, nor could I tote it around with me to the hardware store to try different options. I settled on making some brass shims for a smaller threaded rod I had and epoxying it in place. Then, after the epoxy cured, I used more epoxy to attach the standard size threaded lamp rod atop the smaller one.

Step 4: Wire Socket Circuit

Separate the two parts of the socket and thread your electrical cord through the side hole on the socket. Strip the wires and optionally use an underwriter's knot to provide some strain relief to the wires. To prevent each stranded wire from fraying, twist the stripped ends clockwise before wrapping the end around the terminals on the socket, also clockwise. When you tighten down the screw terminal, the clockwise motion will further tighten the twist, rather than unravel it.

If you are using fabric covered cord, you can tape the fraying edge to prevent it from unraveling further. Close up the socket by pinching the two pieces together until they click into place.

Similarly wire the plug end of the wire, and test your wiring by screwing in a bulb and flipping the switch.

Step 5: Final Lamp Assembly

Thread a nut onto the threaded lamp rod, then add the harp base. Next, screw on the socket wire assembly and tighten down its set screw. Adjust the nut to snug the harp against the base of the socket, and install a bulb and the top of the harp. Add the shade and secure it with a finial.

Plug in your lamp(s) and enjoy! Mine took some adjustments of the harp and finial to get the shades level. Thanks for reading!



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    33 Discussions

    Becky, those are eye catching and would be very fun to have.

    Would you mind a suggestion about adding to the design? What about installing a diffused LED panel in the knife gate valve's back flange as accent or night lighting. The LED light intensity would be controlled by the valve's gate itself... literally a light valve.

    I like the whole re-purpose thing! Where did you run into the valves, if you don't mind me asking?

    Lamps made from valves? Who would have ever guessed. I'll pass personality. Kind of heavy for a lamp for one thing. And, for another thing, I'm a retired Journeyman Pipefitter with 38 years under my belt as one. Don't get me wrong but if I see another flanged valve again it will be to soon. I've installed thousand of these things in all kinds of products. From hot acid, to ketchup, from a 1" flanged gate valve to 54" hot blast valve, each one brings something new into the mix. So, I'll pass on this idea, but keep thinking Becky and good luck.

    2 replies

    Thanks for your insight, but these valves are still super novel and pleasing to me! I would love to hear more about the products you've pipe-fitted, any notable funny stories involving ketchup? =D

    Bekathwia, products I've worked on is vast. Breathing & compressed air, Oxygen & liquid Oxygen, Nitrogen & liquid nitrogen gases, low & high pressure steam, sulphuric & hydrochloric acid, re-genarated acid, sludge, sewage, river,treated & potable waters, super-heated air/fuel mix, steel pickeling solution, ketchup, pickle slices & lead.
    Stories there's tons of them some funny, some serious and some where people got hurt. Working in a steel mill for 28 years & 10 years as a contractor, I've worked on all types of product & I've seen people get squashed like a bug on a window shield where the only thing left is a pile of ground up flesh, bones & a large puddle of blood

    I love your pictures. It makes it so enjoyable to see the steps involved.

    Great job! Lucky find on the valves. It was good to see these re-imagined. Regarding the issue you raised about the trailing wire from the bulb, you could use an outer stainless steel tube or conduit on the top section as a sheath up from the valve top to the bulb holder with the actual stem and the wire running up it. The wire would then reappear at the control wheel and run down the back. The thicker stem this would create might also look more in keeping with the industrial look of the solid bottom section. I hope this makes sense!

    My only other question is: if you do actually open the valves, isn't it dangerous mixing water and electricity?

    5 replies

    Thanks for your thoughts! My approach regarding the wire was just to embrace it as a design element, since a conduit would still be a line added to the valve. But I see what you're saying about the industrial look.

    About your other question, who said anything about water?! The valves opening and closing is just a fun interactive element. Maybe you were making a joke I didn't get, but I don't have anything to hook up to these valves even if I wanted to! =D

    English humour doesn't always travel so well, not even in England sometimes! We do like our water jokes as we get quite a lot of it. Let me know if you need any and I'll send you an envelope full.

    :-) I got it. Swim by next time yr in Yorkshire.

    Great lamp and shade by the way. You're very clever.

    Instructables should have a "LIKE" button! I totally got your "water" joke!

    Do you know where someone could get some of those valves?

    very nice. you might consider using wire ties to keep the cord close to the valve just so it isn't hanging sideways. might improve the appearance. nice work, though!

    Becky, awesome video and project as usual! It is always nice to see what your creative mind has to offer. :-)

    Wow, talk about creating somethig amazing in an unorthodox way. Beautiful project!

    Wow, talk about creating somethig amazing in an unorthodox way. Beautiful project!

    Nice but they are metal so really should have an earth connection

    would not get away with it here in the UK

    Where did you find the valves? It's awesome when you find industrial fixtures like this with so much history and you can give them a new life. They are so beautiful, and make very nice unique lamps, nice work :)

    1 reply

    The valves came from a closed hydroelectric plant in Maine, and were a gift/souvenir from the owner to my boyfriend, who always wanted to turn them into lamps. So I whipped these up as a gift for him!