How to Take a Vintage Oil Can and Make a Unique Desk Lamp

4 Materials
30 Minutes

I’m always on the hunt for new things and one day at a thrift store last fall, we spotted three small old oil cans.

Start out with old oil cans....

  1. Clean the oil can really well. On the outside, wipe it down first to remove loose dirt and then wash with soap and water and a cotton rag. Use and old toothbrush to scrub any stubborn areas. To clean the inside, swish around soap and water to break up any loose pieces. You can also use a de-greaser and a cotton rag. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove any remaining de-greaser as well.
  2. Once it is clean and dry, screw the top of the can off.

3. Remove the nozzle by gently tapping it from the top with a hammer. It should fall right down through the hole.

4. Drill a hole in the side of the can near the bottom.

5. File the hole down so the cord does not rub against it and tear.

6. Thread the one of the longer nipples through the top of the can (this is where the cord will go through). Also thread the hex nut on the bottom part.

7. Attach the 3-way sock to the top of the oil can by screwing it directly on to the nipple.

8. Open up the package with the cord.

9. Feed the cord through the hole in the back, up through the oil can and through the nipple.

10. Attach the two prongs of the cord to the top of the 3 way socket by tightening the screws.

11. Once the wire is securely fastened, push it back down into the oil can and reconnect the top of the socket to the bottom part of it.

12. Now screw the top of the oil can back onto the oil can. See how nicely that fits together?

13. The final step in this DIY oil can lamp is to screw in the Edison bulb.

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


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3 of 17 comments
  • Jacx
    3 days ago

    You should line that sharp hole edge w silicone or put a rubber washer in the hole. If the cord gets frayed it could cause an electrical shock since your can is metal. A rubber washer keeps the cord tight. Figure out the length of cord in the can down to the hole, pull it up to that spot. Tie an electrical knot, pull it back down. This keeps the wires attached on the socket from being pulled off. I've done dozens of lamps and keeping everyone safe that uses your lamp is paramount!

    It's such a charming idea, love to see old time-y stuff be upcycled into items. It always bring a smile to people's faces!

  • Kayley
    2 days ago

    I love how this turned out! Great Job! Maybe I will try if I can find an old oil can.

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