Buying a ready made lamp in a store is easy. But if you’re anything like me, you may have been pining for something a little more original. So you go ahead and make an oil funnel gear junk lamp.
But with every homemade lamp, you also need to wire it. I’ve never wired a lamp before, so I admit I was a little nervous. I mean, no one wants to die before their time. Electricity is a big deal so you need to be informed.
Disclaimer: Please PLEASE involve supervised instruction with your wiring projects. Please follow these instructions at your own risk or hire professional help.
So after I received a little instruction from Dan, I went shopping.
Here’s how to wire a junk lamp. Or… one like this anyway!
I honestly wish I could lie and tell you I used an official wire stripper. But I didn’t. This thing was bent and it didn’t join where it should have. Whatever! But I’ve watched Dan use one of these before and they do work slick if you have a good one. Dan, is this yours?! You can have it back now. 🙂
Preparing the overkill wires
There are much thinner lamp wires to choose from, but Dan uses this heavy gauge wire in his shop for his own creations, and I loved the look of it so we went for it. It consists of a positive, a negative and a ground.
When I went to the lamp store to buy the socket and plug, I showed the salesman what wire I used and his eyebrows nearly jumped off his head. He verified it was safe but definitely overkill and that I didn’t need the ground.
And then when he wanted to know what kind of lamp could handle such a cord, (heh) I tried to explain what my lamp looked like. That’s when his eyes dried out next. Sorry, guy!
So if you use overkill wire, just make sure it’ll work with your chosen socket and plug.
1. Gently scoring with (wire cutters) scissors, cut the outer coating of the thick wire to expose the insides. If you cut through any small wires, you have to snip off the works and start over, so just take your time.
2. Separate the 3 wires and cut off the inside paper like wire insulators. Since this is a lamp, I was told I didn’t need the ground wire so I cut off the green wire too.
(Edited to add: a ground isn’t used for most lamps, but does make the lamp safer in case the positive or negative pull out. Remove the ground wire at your own risk. Thank-you Rob Spaced via Facebook for this info.)
white = positive
black = negative
green = ground
3. Using the exacto knife, gently score along the length of the black and white wire coatings, exposing the copper wires inside. Bend back the white and black and trim off.
4. Tightly wind the copper wires together. You can’t even miss one so keep taking your time.
You are now ready to install either a plug or a lamp socket.
How to install a lamp socket
This is a pull chain lamp socket. There are many other styles to choose from, but I thought it would be cool to turn the lamp on and off with a pull chain, (more bling) so I also picked up a chain extension as well.
1. Pull the lamp socket covering off to expose the screws. One screw is white (positive), and the other is copper (negative).
This is where I needed the magnifying glass. You can’t get this part wrong. I could barely make out the copper screw, so I took the wire outside in natural light AND used the magnifying glass. The copper screw people really ought to put more copper on the screw because I could barely make out the difference. But it’s important to figure it out regardless.
2. **Knot the top of the main wire first, then slip the socket cap on. ** (see why below next picture)
3. Attach the white wire to the white screw and the black wire to the copper screw.
4. Tighten the wire screws well so the outer cap will slip back on.
5. Trim off the copper wires and snip off the green wire. Replace outer cover.
– wind the copper wires around the screw in the same direction of the screw so you don’t unwind your masterpiece when you tighten things up.
– if your wires start to squish out when you tighten the screws, unscrew and try again. Neatness counts here!
– I did the wiring 3x before I was happy with it. Newbie, you know.
– I would never win a wiring kit description award I’m sure.
** The knot above the socket was created so the weight of the shade fell on the knot, not the socket. I thought it was a good idea until someone told me this could overheat the wires. Clamping something on the wire to take the weight may be the better option. Please knot at your own risk.
Cool. I felt a little giddy at this point.
Installing a lamp plug
You have lots of plug options. For a lamp, I didn’t need a 3 prong plug but I bought it anyway because I liked how it looked. 3 prong incorporates the ground wire. Although I didn’t include the ground on mine, please seek advice whether you should or not on your project.
1. Remove the clamp and take the cap off the plug.
The plug components were a very tight fit so I used the butter knife to carefully pry the pieces apart.
2. (not shown) Slip the top cover of the plug onto the wire first.
3. Attach the white positive wire to the stainless screw and the black negative wire to the copper screw.
– make sure this is a very tight fit without extra wire slack otherwise your plug cover will not fit back on again.
– I did this step 3x as well because of too much wire length AND I forgot to do #2!
4. Slip the cover over top the guts, add the clamp back on (not shown) and you’re done.
I admit, I was nervous to plug it in the first time. I stood on my toes and inched the plug into the socket with the tip of a finger, then sprinted off. I think I was even wearing my rubber soled shoes at the time. That was good, right?!
But I had nothing to fear. It works awesome!
Because the cord is exposed on this kind of lamp, you need a place for it to sit. Various wash line wheels and rusty gears were welded together to create a pulley type effect.
See? It works!! The oil funnel gear junk lamp is lit and ready to….
… become a new cat toy! Sigh…