Plumbing Pipe Desk Lamp




Introduction: Plumbing Pipe Desk Lamp

About: I live in Fairbanks, AK, where I'm enrolled in an MFA program in creative writing. I also like to party.

I figured for my first instructable I'd do something that a ton of others have done. After seeing these around on Instructables as well as elsewhere on the net (sometimes upwards of $300!) I decided that I would finally build my own. With a couple of common tools and a spare afternoon, you can have one for around $35. Admittedly, some of the awesome switches/toggles that others like the Kozo Lamps  have are very cool, but something more complicated that I didn't end up trying. Anyways, I'm sure that there is an easy way to rig up some of the great plumbing fixture switches out there if you've got the will to do it.

You will need:

-Assorted plumbing parts (I used 3x 3/4" T-joints, 2x 6 inch lengths of 3/4", 6x 3/4" 90 angle pieces, one 3/4" to 1 1/2" bell reducer, and 4x 3 inch lengths of 3/4")
-Drill (dremel could probably work in a squeeze)
-Soldering Iron
-Standard lightblub socket
-A cool lightbulb (I got a full spectrum 60 watt round bulb)
-Wire cutters/strippers
-Power cord
-Rotary switch

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Step 1: Buy Some Plumbing Parts

Buy some plumbing parts. You can find these at your average home repair store. The best thing that I can recommend is to just build the whole lamp while you're in the store. Don't be afraid to open up any packaging and play around with a ton of different pieces. Try to make something that you think looks cool and fits the purpose of your lamp. You can use some flanges like in the picture here to do wall-mounted lamps as well.

Step 2: Buy the Rest of the Stuff

Take the plumbing fixture that you picked to be the end of your lamp (the one that the bulb will be in) and find a standard light bulb fixture that will fit inside of it. Using bell reducers to get up to a large diameter at this point looks really cool. The bulb socket that I ended up buying was surrounded in ceramic, and it would have actually fit a lot more snugly to a 1 1/4" end piece. Regardless, just be sure that the socket will fit inside of the end piece.

Step 3: Wire the Lamp

Affix the light bulb socket to the inside of your end-piece bell reducer. I used hot glue from the back end so that it wouldn't be visible from the front, but you could use whatever. JB-weld might be a smart option.

Drill a 1/4" hole in through a convenient spot on your lamp. Be sure that when you're drilling through the metal you drill slowly. 

Run the power cord through the body of the lamp and up to the joint where the bulb socket and power cord meet each other. Strip back about an inch of either of the power cord wires. Solder the bulb socket wires and the power cord wires together, then reassemble the lamp.

Step 4: Insert the Rotary Switch

Once the power cord and bulb socket have been soldered, the lamp should be screwed together the way that you want it to, and light up if you plug it in to an outlet.

For the sake of convenience I went ahead and picked up a rotary switch much like the ones that some cheap lamps have. To install the switch, cut one of the two wires on the power cord, and leave the other intact. Run the continuous wire along the top of the rotary switch (should be fairly obvious, using the plastic walls inside the rotary switch as a guide) and the cut wire should run into two separate areas inside the switch where the wires terminal. Be sure that the two brass prongs that clench the wire when you screw the switch shut again come down in the center of both ends of your cut wire so that a solid connection is made.

Step 5: Use Your Funkin Lamp

Enjoy! You just saved at least two or three butt-tons of money and your friends will think you're really cool. These make great cheap birthday presents.

1 Person Made This Project!


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6 Discussions


7 years ago on Step 5

What did you use to get that color of pipe?


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

That's just galvanised steel pipe, that's just the colour of it. If you used copper pipe however, you can certainly expect a different colour. ;)


6 years ago on Introduction

I totally agree that things would cost way cheaper if you do it yourself. However, you would need proper instructions and guidelines and the right materials and tools to do the job safely and correctly though. In this case, plumbing parts and fittings do not cost that much and even with additional small lighting components, the end results would still not cost as much as $300. I like creative and unique ideas like this that is not common to find, thus making it very special.


8 years ago on Introduction

I've made a couple of versions of this--people love them! I like to use a rocker in-line switch instead, and have used a motion sensitive security lamp for the socket, so that the bulb is hooded and focused. Otherwise, as a reading lamp, it is too bright from the side, even with a low wattage bulb.

Good instructable! Very creative.