Upcycle an Old Washing Machine Into a Mid-Century Modern Floor Lamp

20 Materials
$10
3 Hours
Medium

I love finding new uses for material that most people would throw away, and this project is no exception. I took an old, broken washing machine and repurposed the drum into a stylish floor lamp. This project is quick, easy, and earth-friendly! The matte black of the legs contrasts beautifully with the shiny silver of the washing machine drum, and the holes in the drum create interesting patterns when you turn on the light. What’s not to like? Check out my 10-step guide to build one yourself!


DIY Floor Lamp

Tools and Materials

  • Old washing machine
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • 3 pieces of wood
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Circular saw
  • Electric sander
  • Square piece of wood
  • Electric drill
  • Electric screwdriver
  • Wood glue
  • Screws
  • Wood plugs
  • Black satin paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Limescale remover
  • Polish
  • Cloth
  • Lamp wiring
  • Lightbulb

Take Apart the Washing Machine

Take Apart the Washing Machine


The part that we’re after is the drum, so I needed to take apart the entire washing machine to get to this one piece. Use whatever tools necessary, though I found that a flathead screwdriver basically did the job. Once you get to the drum handle it with care, making sure not to scratch it.

Remove the Cover
Remove Extra Hardware


Cut the Wood for the Legs

Cut the Wood for the Legs


I was inspired by the mid-century modern style when it came to the legs of the lamp. I loved the look of a tripod, and set out to create one myself. I planned on adding a piece in between the three legs of the tripod at the top, but I still needed to make sure that they sat together comfortably against this center piece. I measured an angle that would allow this to happen and cut all three pieces at the same angle with a circular saw.

Cut the Wood


Sand the Legs

Sand the Legs


Holding the three legs together, I ran over them a few times with an electric sander. This made sure that all of them remained the same size and would fit together snugly. 

Create a Center Piece to Join the Legs

Mark the Wood


For the piece holding the legs together I started with a square piece of wood. At a 30 degree angle, I cut off the sides of the square, leaving me with three large and three small flat sides. I would eventually attach the legs to the larger flat sides. 

Secure to Your Surface
Cut the Center Piece


Drill a Hole

Once I had the piece cut to the size I wanted, I drilled a ⅜” hole down the middle to provide a way for the electric cable to enter the steel drum.

Attach the Legs to the Center Piece

Attach the Legs to the Center Piece


To attach the legs to the center piece I first glued the angled end to the piece. 

Drill a Pilot Hole


Screw in Place

Then I drilled two pilot holes and screwed it onto the center piece. When doing this make sure that the screws aren’t so long as to block the hole in the center piece created for the cable. Repeat this process with each leg. 

Insert Wood Plugs

Once completed, I inserted wood plugs to cover the screws and sanded them until flush with the rest of the leg. 

Paint the Legs

Paint the Legs


Using black paint with a satin finish I painted the entire tripod. I chose a satin finish because I thought it would contrast nicely with the shiny metal drum.

Clean the Drum

Clean the Drum


Where I live we have hard water, so before attaching it to the tripod, I had to clean the washing machine drum. Using limescale remover and lots of elbow grease, I scrubbed the entire drum. Don’t use anything rough, like steel wool, as it will scratch the drum. Additionally, please be careful while doing this, as limescale remover can be quite caustic and dangerous if handled improperly.

Scrub


Rinse

Then I rinsed the drum off and moved on to shining it.

Shine

Using a paste compound and a rag I scrubbed the entire drum until I was happy with its shine.

Drill Holes in the Drum for Screws

Mark Holes


With the drum ready to be attached, I first had to mark where I needed to make holes for the legs and the wiring for the lamp. I lay the tripod I had made upside down on the bottom of the drum and marked where I wanted to attach it. 

Drill Holes in the Drum for Screws

Then I drilled four holes, three for the tripod and one in the middle for the wiring.

 

Wire the Lamp

Wire the Lamp


Now it was time to wire the lamp! I thread a 3 core electric cable through the top of the tripod and the hole in the drum and then attached the lamp bulb holder inside the drum using a brass fitting to hold it in place. Make sure to properly wire the live, neutral, and ground wires when wiring the lamp yourself. 

Wire Properly


Screw the Drum to the Tripod

Screw the Drum to the Tripod


One last step before I could put my new lamp into use was to attach the washing machine drum to the tripod I had built. It was quick and easy using only three screws. Then I screwed in a lightbulb and I was ready to go!

Light Socket
With the Lightbulb Installed


DIY Mid-Century Modern Floor Lamp
DIY Recycle Floor Lamp


Homemade Floor Lamp

That’s it! It only took me ten steps to take an old broken washing machine and turn it into something new and useful. I love the interesting shadows that the holes in the drum throw when the light is on. It’s an interesting piece that is always a conversation starter with my guests. How have you upcycled old, broken items? Let me know in the comments below.

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