There are tons of ways of getting lighting into your space, but having an ultra-chic minimalist lamp with mid-century modern design sensibilities is definitely a plus! It's almost like a light went off in my head...
In this instructable, I'll show you how to make a sophisticated yet wonderfully simple lamp made of a walnut wooden block with lamp kit insert capability, freeing you of complicated lamp wiring!!
Is it a charming book end? Paper weight? Chunk of wood with a light bulb? Why, yes it is. All of that.
Let's get started!
Step 1: Materials
This is what you'll need for this project:
A block of wood (any type, but I recommend a hard wood. I had to cut/glue/trim my wood to get it into a chunky block, and used a bandsaw and sander to achieve this.)
Varying size hole saws/ drill bits (more on sizes later)
A lamp Kit (I got one with a fancy red wire cover from WorldMarket for $12)
A light bulb (I used an old school style one, ordered on Amazon.com. 40-60w, anything higher may be too bright and would require a shade)
Hot Glue Gun or that crazy Epoxy stuff
Step 2: Cutting It Down to Size
I came into ownership of a large piece of walnut that sat at my desk as a paperweight for a few months. Finally, I decided I would have to do something with it or toss it out (not going to happen, did I mention it's walnut?!)
So I took the whole thing and cut it in half on a bandsaw. Then glued both pieces together, using grips to secure the hold. I allowed it to set over night. I did this because I wanted a near square shaped final product, and the original chunk of walnut was not thick enough for my liking.
The glued product was about 5 inches high x 10 inches long x 6.5 inches wide.
Step 3: Final Measurements & Cuts
I traced out the final shape I wanted out of my glued chunk, since it was still quite rough around the edges. Using a bandsaw I got it to a near perfect square shape.
Step 4: Drilling a Mouse Hole
Because I would not be doing any fancy rewiring, I would need a place where the light kit's wire could sit comfortably, and undetected (for the most part). I drew out a straight line near the very bottom (about a 1/2 inch up) one side of the wooden chunk, and using a 1/4 inch drill bit, I cleared a small hole that entered in just past the very center of the block, through the drawn line.
Then, using the bandsaw again, I cut along the line I had drawn, exposing just about half of the diameter of the the hole I just drilled.
Then, I tested to see if the wire was thin enough to fit well enough inside this mouse hole without making the rest of the block wobble. Success! (although, I probably should have measured the diameter of the wire before deciding on what size drill bit to use. Had I used too small a drill bit, the wire wouldn't fit, and I would have to start this process again, resulting in a 1/2 inch shorter block)
Step 5: Finding the Center
You will need to find the exact center of both the top and bottom sides. I did this by taking a straight edge ruler and drawing a line connecting two diagonal corners. I did this twice, which created an X marking the spot of a near-true center point.
Step 6: Drilling the Top
Using a caliper I measured the outer diameter of the socket surround (the black part in the photos). Based on that, I used a slightly bigger 1 1/2 inch hole saw which I knew would make a perfect sized hole for the socket surround to fit snuggly into. I drilled down about a 1/4 inch. Because I had already exacted the center of the block, I would be drilling into that point.
Step 7: Drilling the Bottom
Similar to drilling into the top, I used a caliper to measure the collar (the plastic part that unscrews from the socket portion of the lamp kit). However, I flipped over the collar and screwed it on UPSDIE DOWN, and measured the diameter of the widest part (now the top). This is really important to note because it determines how big a drill bit you'll need. I used a 2 1/2 inch hole saw/ drill bit.
Since I had already exacted the center of the bottom of the block, I used that as a guide to drill. I stopped drilling about a 1/4 inch from the bottom because I knew that I would eventually run into the 1 1/4 inch hole I had made from the other side. This way, I would have a 1 1/4 inch "neck" where the socket surround would fit into.
The part where the two holes meet would be where I would adhere the upside down collar, so the entire socket surround could easily be screwed to the otherwise invisible collar
Step 8: Testing 1..2...3
I wanted to make sure that the entire lamp kit hardware would fit snuggly inside of the two holes I drilled, basically ensuring that I would not need to drill anything else.
Step 9: Sanding
Because I had cut everything with a bandsaw there was a good bit of unevenness all around the block. I spent about a half hour sanding all six sides to a smooth, even finish.
Step 10: Oiling or Staining
Walnut wood has an naturally amazing finish, so I did not want to use a stain finish, but rather an oil finish to help bring out the already rich color and texture of the wood. After sanding, I wiped the wood down with a barely damp cloth, to ensure that all sawdust was removed before treating the wood.
The second picture in this step really shows how different one quick swipe with oil can be. The right side is of the freshly sanded wood, whereas the left side is of an oil treatment.
I applied oil and let it sink in for about an hour before I did a second layer, sanding lightly after each treatment.
Step 11: Glueing the Collar
As previously mentioned, I screwed the collar of the lamp kit UPSIDE down, so that it's widest point was facing up. Using hot glue (with permanent grade glue sticks) or Epoxy, I glued the topmost part to the underside of the "neck" of the two holes. If you drilled the perfect sized hole, the collar should fit snuggly, and the smaller hole on the top of the block should allow for an unobstructed view of the other side.
After allowing it to dry, I screwed in the socket surround, just enough so that it's top was flush with the block's surface.
Step 12: Securing the Wire
Once the socket surround is screwed on securely, you will have it's wire to deal with. I placed the wire in the small mouse hole, and stabilized it by using a staple gun. Be careful not to run the staples through the wire!! This is uber dangerous, so be careful. I used a total of two staples to get it in place.
Step 13: Screwing on Bulb
Because I screwed on the socket surround to the collar just enough to have it flush with the surface of the block, I could easily screw on my vintage bulb. I recommend a low wattage bulb so that the light is not uncomfortable to look at without the help of a lamp shade to diffuse the light.
I chose the lamp kit/cord not only because of the fun bright red cord which I knew would contrast nicely with the deep walnut color of the wood, but also because it had a handy switch that I could turn on and off without having to unplug from the wall entirely. Score!
Step 14: Enjoy!
Have fun with your new labor of love! Please be safe and know that this lamp, although not hardwired by you, still runs the same risks of all live lamps.
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Lamps and Lighting