Making your own lamps, given the prominent spaces they occupy in our homes, provides a great opportunity to add some very personal and super functional style to areas or rooms that need some brightening up!
In this instructable, I show you how one small (but mighty) adapter makes it possible to seamlessly attach lamp hardware to any tripod.
All camera and surveying tripods (new & vintage) have the same thread size for screwing on cameras and scopes (1/4-20F). Conveniently, in the world of lamp hardware, there's a thread adapter (that costs $0.30) that converts the tripod threads to ones that match lamp hardware. Boom!
This is my favorite style of floor lamp, because of its adjustability and simplicity. So if you've been needing a floor lamp to illuminate a corner of a room that doesn't have built in overhead lighting, I highly recommend giving this super easy to make lamp a try!
NOTE: I made this project to go with my free Instructables Lamps Class, so I don't cover how to wire the socket and plug in this 'ible. To learn how to properly and safely work with electricity and wire up this lamp (along with many other styles), please read through my class. :D
Step 1: Tool & Supplies
Here are the parts you'll need to make this beauty:
NOTE: all parts fit 1/8 IP threaded rod (the smaller of the two common lamp pipe/rod sizes).
- (x1 - $0-75) new or vintage tripod* - look on eBay and Etsy
- (x1 - $1.25 p/foot) 13' black Twisted cloth covered cord
- (x1 - $6.95) brass metal cap & shell pull chain socket w/ side out hole**
- (x1 - $1.95) interior socket with nickel pull chain***
- (x1 - $4.50) polarized antique black plug
- (x1 - $1.50) 9 1/2" nickel harp
- (x1 - $0.35) 7/8" nickel plated coupling
- (x1 - $.015) 1 1/4" threaded steel nipple
- (x1 - $0.30) 1/4-20F x 1/8M brass reducer without shoulder
- (x1 - $0.03) nickel lock washer
- (x1 - $0.22) nickel knurl nut
The tools you need to make this beauty are as follows:
- a small piece of poster board or card stock (1" x 3" - ish)
- wire cutters
- wire stripper
- phillips head screwdriver
- small flathead screwdriver
- needle nose pliers
- electrical tape
- both sizes of Channellock pliers (small & medium)
- continuity tester or multi-meter
*I found my antique surveyors tripod on Etsy. It was a bit of a splurge (at $75), but so worth it as I didn't have to refurbish any part of it. It was ready-to-go beauty!
**Unfortunately the online retailer of lamp parts that I use doesn't have a nickel version of the socket we need. A can of silver spray paint can change the brass to nickel pretty quickly if that's important to you.
***Buy this only if you care about the color of the pull chain being silver!
Step 2: Assembling the Hardware
This is the magic people. This tiny brass adapter bridges the gap between two worlds. Don't screw it on yet, I just wanted you to see how tiny, yet powerful this little guy is.
Ok, here are all the hardware pieces laid out in the order they will be assembled.
Step one is to screw the mighty adapter into the coupling so that it is flush to the bottom, like pictured above.
Screw the nipple into the top of the coupling until it meets the adapter. Then add the harp saddle.
Next, add a lock washer and screw on the knurl nut to snug up the washers.
We're going to use the above tools to tighten up our hardware - without scratching the coupling (enter the little poster board piece)
Wrap the board around the coupling.
With your non-dominant hand, use the larger pliers to grab hold of the paper protected coupling. Use your dominant hand to tighten the knurl nut with the small pliers. Make it good and tight.
Screw the socket cap onto the nipple and tighten its screw.
Then thread one end of the cord up through the side out hole of the cap so that at least 6" of cord are sticking up.
Wrap a thin strip of electrical tape around the cord 3" from the end. Un-twist those 3" of wire. Now tie an Underwriter's Knot.
NOTE: To learn how to tie an Underwriter's Knot, please enroll in my free Instructables Lamps Class and refer to Lesson 3.
Wire up the socket and attach the socket shell. To learn how to do this correctly and safely, read through Lesson 3: Wiring Sockets from my Lamps Class.
The last addition is the plug. To learn how to wire a plug correctly and safely, please read through Lesson 4 of my Lamps Class.
Now that's a great looking cord set!!!
Step 3: Get It Together
Now it's time to put your good work on the beautiful tripod!
Set up your tripod.
Line the adapter filled coupling end up with the tripod threads.
Lower the coupling down onto the threads and hold the lamp steady while you screw the tripod threads in using the bottom knob. Tighten it as much as you can. (That's good enough. No need to bust out the pliers.)
One of the other amazing things about using tripods for lamp bases, is that they are so adjustable up top too! This makes it easy to ensure your shade will be straight, even if the floor isn't.
FYI: If you'd like to learn how to choose a harp (shade holder) and shade, read through Lesson 9 of my Lamps Class.
Enjoy your new lamp!!