Pipe Wall Light




About: Commercial photographer with a need for some diy projects with the kiddies!

This is actually based off of, and inspired by, Frenzy's Pipe Lamp Instructable here. I saw it and thought that it might be the perfect addition to the makeup mirror in my photo studio in Boston.

Mine cost a bit more than Frenzy's, but I think that is because I went with Black Pipe rather than galvanized. I also chose to use clamp lights, since they have reflectors.

Actually, I chose brooder heat lights because I liked the porcelain fittings and the crossed wire in the front.

The other big difference is that I used the joint from the clamp light to hold it to the pipes.

Warning: This instructable does not go into the actual wiring with pictures. It does involve electricity at wall levels - Which can do more than hurt! If you do not know how to wire a light circuit with a switch, get a professional. Or do good research.


Step 1: Parts

I went to my local Lowes. You can probably find most of this in any other of the large home improvement stores.

Since I was making two of these to go on either side of the mirror, I doubled it.

1 Brooder Heat Light with handy clamp.

5/16 18 x 2" hex drive screw

2 hex nut with star washers

1/2 inch black pipe parts:

3" nipple
T joint
18"  pipe
2 1 1/2" nipples
1 black cross
2 90 degree bends
2 3 1/2" nipples
2 1/2" floor mounts (I had to get galvanized. Couldn't find them in black pipe).

Add to that a three  junction boxes, 20 feet of cord, a switch and a plug, miscellaneous wire nuts and a few tools.

Step 2: The Trick Joint

I removed the flexible spring clamp from the light, keeping the clamp that holds it to the light.

We used the head of the hex bolt as the tip that the clamp would hold on to.

To get the bolt in the right place, drill a hole into the cap and use the nuts to hold it in place (one inside and one outside).

Step 3: Pull the Wire

I found that pulling the wire through the t joint first, before putting on the 18" piece, was a lot easier than trying to thread the whole thing.

Of course, you have to cut the plug off the wire first, before threading it. But, that is okay. You are going to be wiring it into junction boxes anyway.

I also thought about forgoing the t joint and drilling another hole in the pipe. But I was afraid of the rough edges and thought this looked more industrial and cooler.

Step 4: Putting Together the Rest...

After that, it is simply a matter of putting pipe to pipe, and joint to joint. I left the right angle pieces a little loose so that it could pivot when mounted.

Step 5: Mount and Enjoy

For the wiring, after cutting the plugs off of the lamp cords, it was fairly simple to hook up black to black, white to white, and tie the ground into the boxes.

Wiring this together should be easy. But, if you are unsure about any part, ask a professional!

Which means, not me, btw. I have picked up a few things but am, by no means, an electrician.

I had to do a little research myself to make sure of which wire to put the switch on.

At the end, the whole thing was plugged into a power strip.

As Frenzy said, have a circuit breaker in place the first time you plug it in, just in case!



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    15 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 4

    there are pivot joints that are made for that kind of pipe IF, if you wanted to do that instead...

    However, I have no idea what the cost is...

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    This is what I get for shopping at the plumbing center at the giant home centers: lots of general stuff but nothing very specific.

    I assume that the swivel would be more of a speciality item. Plumbing supply or special order?


    7 years ago on Step 5

    if you did not want an inline switch, you could mount a toggle switch in the pipe itself. toggle switches have a reputation of lasting a whole lot longer than most any other kind of switch because of how they are made AND because they are attached to something that does not move.

    To install one, you drill a hole in the pipe wherever you want the switch, remove the lock nut & washer that is on the switch, place the switch in that hole(you do not even have to worry about sharp edges because the wire will not come in contact with the hole),wire up the switch, wire up the lamp & you're ready to rock & roll.

    I'm not trying to tell you to do this, this is just an option.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I like this idea a lot! You would probably have to wire the switch a head of time and then feed the assembly thru the pipe to the hole you drilled.

    And, be sure to check that the switch would fit in the pipe!

    It might also be cool to take a couple of reducer fittings and create a little "junction box" for the switch. Go from a half inch pipe up to a one inch or bigger, put the switch on the one inche nipple and then reduce it back down to the half inch for the rest of the run.

    Very steam punk esque!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Q for whoever wishes to answer.

    is it NOT a good idea to use schedule 40 pipe for a lamp?
    Schedule 40 pipe is that white thick walled plumbing pipe used for water
    lines usually.

    I'm just wondering if the lamp would get too hot for that,..

    Or if it would not be stable enough(IE: be susceptible to tipping over too easily & causing problems that way)?

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    My limited experience with PVC has been less than stellar for unsupported, horizontal use. It has had a tendency to sag over time. Actually, sched 20 droops right away. I don't know about the 40. It would need to hold the weight of the wire, the fixture and bulb. Since I ended up with 250 watts, the heat might be an issue., too.

    Also, in this particular case, the black pipe was a part of the esthetic I was going for.

    However, I could definitely see making an arguement for trying the 40, witha different support structure. and a different esthetic.


    7 years ago on Step 3

    The T- joint looks so much better than just drilling a hole into the pipe ever would have. You absolutely made the right choice.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 3

    I think so as well....

    there are ways to smooth out the drilled edges so they won't cut into the wire, but with electrical set ups, it is always better to be safe than sorry.


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 3

    Thanks JDGNYC!

    The lights get a lot of comments when people come by the studio.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! My photo studio is in an old factory and the antithesis of my little cape house in the suburbs. So, it was important to me to keep that old industrial feel.