DIY Rustic Industrial Farmhouse Light Fixture

8 Materials
3 Days

My husband found this eleven foot long rusty old steel beam in our woods and then we made a light fixture for our kitchen with it!

I had been searching for a new light for our kitchen for months. Then my cousin gave us three big schoolhouse style lights left over from a project and we thought they would be perfect! But making them look right in our 18 foot tall angled ceiling kitchen was a challenge! Usually I am the one who comes up with ideas, but this time my husband said, "I have an idea." And he disappeared into the woods and came back dragging this!
I should explain, the original builders/owners of our home really left us with some great resources, but because the house sat empty for a long time a lot of it was reclaimed by nature and we have gradually found it.
So this beam... he said the c-channel beam would be perfect for hiding the wiring, but it had some serious rust and flaking going on. So we started by pressure washing the loose chunks off.
And then we treated the beam with our favorite rust inhibitor, Ospho. 
We sprayed all of the surfaces of the beam down with it, wiped the puddling excess off with a rag, and let it sit overnight.  
Then we laid the lights out on the beam. We centered the middle one, of course, and then placed the ones on the ends in a spot that looked right , equally from each end.
We found the center holes based on these locations.
And drilled a 5/16" hole. To explain the sawdust while drilling through a steel beam, there's a wooden block under there to support the beam.
We gave the beam a coat of spar-urethane to seal it.

After it was dry, we attached the fixture mounting plates, and grounded the fixtures.
 We used a plastic bushing in each of the three holes to protect the wires. Then we ran the wires for the lights.
(if you'd like to see our latest project, our living room renovation, you can see it here
So to suspend the beam, we decided to use a trapeze made from chains and bolts. For the top piece we used 3/8" stainless steel tube (another left over from the original owner) with the bolt inside it. We spray painted it all a dark brown to match the beam.
OK, now we had to hang this monster! We started by hanging the trapeze supports from the wooden beam of the house.
And then lifted the beam into place.

Edit to answer questions: We decided we liked the chains at this 60 degree angle. It made it more interesting, reminding us of a beam being lifted by a crane. Each top bar of the trapeze rests against two screws into the top of the wood beam to keep it from sliding.
After the beam was up, my husband wired up the lights and finally attached them to the bases on the steel beam.

Edit to answer some questions: There is a shallow junction box from the original light fixture we replaced on top of the wood beam near were the chain is attached. The wires and ground run hidden down the chain and into the channel of the beam.
So that's our light project! We call it our linear chandelier. This was kind of a homesteading/junk yard wars type project for us, trying to use what we had on hand in a creative way. And I know, you're thinking well that's just great, you had a beam lying around but I don't. But! I see these beams at our local metal recycling yard all the time, so check yours. They can be bought very reasonably by the pound. They may not be quite this rusty, but they are rusty enough! And check your local Habitat Restore because I see so many light fixtures that could be used for this there.

I didn't have enough space here to list every detail of this project, so if you'd like to see more, please see it here:
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Dara @hoodcreeklogcabin

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 24 questions
  • Crafty carol
    on Oct 21, 2019

    Unable to see the wiring going to to an electrical plug-in source?

  • GBK
    on Mar 10, 2020

    Did you drill 3 holes per light through the metal? Are the fixture mounting plates attached with nuts and bolts?

  • Laurie Olsen
    on Mar 10, 2020

    How easy is it to change the light bulbs?

Join the conversation

2 of 204 comments
  • Nancy
    on Aug 29, 2019

    Your light fixture is beautiful. Live that you recycled someone's left overs along with the found channel beam. It looks wonderful. Congratulations.

  • Dee
    on Sep 21, 2019

    Wowwwww! You guys make on AWESOME team! I loveit! GREAT job!!

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