Restoring Old Oil Lamp




About: I'm a simple guy from a simple country called Latvia. I enjoy making useful (and sometimes not so useful) stuff to make people around me happier!

Some time ago, I was roaming around my grandparents property. I wandered into the abandoned neighbor property, where I found an old nearly collapsed shack. Of course I went into it, and I was surprised when I found this old rusty oil lamp. Well, an old oil lamp isn't something very expensive and at this state it wasn't valuable at all, so one could ask why was I surprised? I was surprised because after more than 30 years of being in really low and high temperatures the glass bowl wasn't broken!

So I was sure that I can't leave it there to rust! That's how the idea about a new lamp was born...

Tools and materials:

  • Sandpaper,
  • Rust remover,
  • Paint,
  • Paintbrush,
  • Cloth,
  • Light bulb,
  • Wire with a switch,
  • Bulb socket.

Step 1: Taking Apart

I started with taking it apart. It was quite scary, as I was trying not to brake the glass!

When that was done I took a piece of wet cloth, and cleaned the lamp with it. It was even more surprising to find that the glass had only a couple of scratches, and after cleaning it looked like new!

Step 2: Removing Rust

Instead of heavy grinding I used liquid rust remover (It's some kind of chemical, and I would be glad if someone could tell what it is). After coating the lamp with the liquid, I let it soak in for some time. After that I used some medium grit sandpaper to smooth the surface.

Step 3: Painting

When I stared to think about the color, I remembered an old commercial about a paint that can be put directly onto rust. Hammerite!! So I went to the local shop and bought it (they had only one color - bright blue)! Unfortunately only when I had painted the lamp, I understood that this blue color wasn't too good looking.

To make it look unusual, I decided to paint some of the parts white! After painting I let the lamp dry for a couple of days.

Step 4: Adding Electricity

When I found the lamp, it wasn't in working condition, and I'm not the guy who knows how to fix a 40 year old oil lamp...

So instead of fixing it, I decided to upgrade it! With electricity!!

First, I reassembled the lamp, then I put the wire through the top of the lamp and then I connected the wire with the bulb socket! And hooray! it shines really bright!!!

This was quite entertaining project, that took little time to complete, and in the end, it's turned out nicely! It's a new breath to an old object!

I added this instructable to the Before and After contest, so I would be really thankful I you could vote for me!

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8 Discussions


3 years ago

voted for you in metal contest and before and after contest as well

1 reply

Question 4 months ago on Introduction

Did you find that the various little tools you must have needed tended to be amongst all your ordinary tools? I wondered because I can see what looks like a ‘tool roll’ so that’s something to consider. I mean,back in the day when these lamps were made they probably made their own tools!
best regards


3 years ago on Introduction

good instructable. i also restore old dietz oil lamps. i have found elecrtolsis works well for me. i also clean the tan kand fiberglass resin makes a good tank sealent. i restore to original working order. i use them.


3 years ago on Introduction

Great looking restore. The rust remover you are referring to is likely naval jelly. I believe it's mostly phosphoric acid, so you should store it somewhere that kids and pets can't get into it on accident. While I don't care for you converting this to electric because I feel a restored "oil" lantern would be more useful (camping, hiking, backyard bbq, winter street parade, etc) you did a good job and turned someone else's trash into your treasure, so thumbs up to you.

OP, they also make ones like this that are meant to mount on wall inside (or outside) of a house. Converting one of these to take a bulb makes perfect sense.

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

Thanks!! It sure would be more useful, but as I don't go camping too often, hanging this on a wall as a both decorative and practical piece seems quite nice too!