Vintage Oil Can Lamp




While visiting an abandoned brick factory in Valencia (Spain) we found this oil can somebody had dumped there taking advantage of the mess. We decided to take it back home and create something cool with it.

A lamp would be simple to make and very cool looking. Check the video to see how it was found and the complete making process!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools!

Here is the list of materials that I found locally or on a quick search in amazon, nothing difficult to find:
Edison lightbulb (10cm) - 10€

  • Lighbulb E27 socket with threaded tube and nut - 5€
  • Extension cord with dimmer - 4€
  • Braided wire (optional) - 8€/3meters: this will make it look fancier!
  • Male plug - 1.5€
  • Brass fittings for plumbing (optional) - 2€. I used them to secure the wire onto the can and make it look fancier than just a hole :) one 3/4 plug and a 3/4female - 1/2male adaptor

Be sure you also have some screw terminals to connect the braided wire with the dimmer wire and duct tape

You will only need an angle grinder and a step bit for metal sheet in your drill and you are good to go!

And last, if it still had some oil inside you will need some cleaning products :)

Step 2: Prepare the Can to Receive the Parts

You will need to open a hole in the bottom. You can remove it completely but I suggest cutting just a part so that if later it feels tippy you can easily add weight inside. In this case I went with a square hole, predrilling the corners so they were rounded.

Next you need to measure the diameter of the plumbing fittings if you are going to use them and make a hole to receive them. In my case it was a 20mm hole since it was a 3/4 thread.

And last, disassemble the dimmer removing the knob, the nut and the case (depending on what kind of dimmer you got) and measure the thread to make a hole to install it on the side of the can.

Step 3: Install Lighbulb Socket

I was lucky the socked would seat nicely in the thread of the can plug. I just needed to fix the threaded tube in the socket and then drill a 10mm hole in a scrap of mdf to act as a big washer inside the can. The nut kept everything tight.

Step 4: Install the Braided Wire

You will need to drill a hole in the plug for the wire, 6mm in my case. Then you can screw the plug in the can and feed the wire through. I used some scotch tape to keep the fabric from getting stuck in the hole.

Once it has made it through, tie a knot and pull it tight against the plug. Then you can install the 3/4-1/2 fitting to keep the knot from moving. All set!

Step 5: Install the Dimmer and Wire Everything!

I used screw terminals to connect the braided wire to the dimmer wire. Then, you can insert everything inside and install the dimmer in place tightening the nut. then you feed the other end of the dimmer throgh the bulb socked tube and connect the terminals.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Respect the "direction" of the power in the dimmer. The first time I accidentally connected the dimmer output to the braided wire and of course it blew up. Not fun! :D Dimmer input goes to the screw terminals to be connected with the braided wire and the output goes to the bulb.
  • Make sure no electrical parts are in contact with the can. I used some duct tape for the screw terminals and wrapped the dimmer to make sure nothing gets loose or makes contact with the can. My braided wire didn't had a ground but if your does have it, be sure to connect it to the can.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Connect the braided wire in the male plug. This is very easy and depends on what plug you got.

Finally I used a file to sand down the top of the knob and then hot glued it to the oil can plug. It adds a nice detail :)

Screw the lightbulb and you are done!

Trash to Treasure Challenge

Runner Up in the
Trash to Treasure Challenge



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    22 Discussions


    3 years ago

    20-W-40 - does that mean 20 to 40 watts? :)

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    I like the look of the lamp and love the knob BUT, I think it would be safer (as the can is made of metal) to connect the body of your lamp to the ground with a cord that has the ground in it, just in case. I voted because I really think you turned that trash into treasure.

    1 reply
    Cactus workshopsmartrem

    Reply 3 years ago

    Hi! thanks for the vote and the suggestion! Safety was one of my main concerns. This fancy wire didn't have a ground so even if it is not shown, I insulated thoroughly every electrical connection and the dimmer to make sure I don't have any shock :D I would sleep better if I had a ground but oh well. A lot of electrical appliances have no ground and they rely on double insulation, but those were made in a factory :D I'lll be safe! thanks again and thank you for your concern!! :)


    3 years ago

    Wow, this is great, the music on the video was so funny when you shook the can. The end result is wonderful. Voted.

    1 reply
    Cactus workshoptominjose

    Reply 3 years ago

    I guess you commented twice because you were so excited! haha thanks! :D