How to Wire a Lamp With Lots of Pictures


Whenever I've made a lamp, I've told people how easy it is. Seriously, I am not electrician. I don't like electricity, the threat of a shock scares me...yet I have made about 10 lamps out of some very cool things and I hope to inspire you to do the same.
My advice to any person about to wire a lamp is to buy a lamp kit and follow the instructions in the package. But if you like to do your project with pictures, this post is for you.
First thing you need to do is to buy a make-a-lamp kit. These are available at the large home improvement stores as well as Amazon and Walmart. As of this post I've found that Walmart has the best price. You can buy the pieces separately but I can't beat the convenience of the kit.
The make-a-lamp kit calls for you to "install your locknut on existing lamp nipple". First off, the nipple is the threaded pipe shown below in the smaller package. Secondly, I'm making my own lamp, there is no existing lamp nipple. The kit comes with a nipple that is about an inch long but you need a nipple long enough to extend down into your lamp far enough to give it support. I like the zinc plated nipples shown below, they run about 8 inches.
Almost ready to make your lamp. I'm assuming you've made a really cool base and it's really sturdy...one that won't tip over? If you need some ideas, head over to my blog.
With a drill and a very long 3/8 drill bit, drill a hole the length of your lamp. The drill bit needs to be at least half the length of your lamp so that you can drill from both sides and meet in the middle. If you can drill from only one side , that's even better, you won't have to worry about meeting in the middle. The hole needs to be as close to the exact size of the nipple as possible so there is no wiggle room.
Before wiring, make an escape point at the bottom of your lamp for the lamp wire. You'll want your lamp to sit flat on the table. I usually do this with a circular saw, going from the hole in the center of the lamp to the outside edge. 2 saw blades width should be enough to hold your wire. The skinny piece of wood that was left over (above) was easily broken off with a flat head screwdriver. If needed, the wire can be tacked down later with a large staple.
Starting at the bottom, thread your lamp wire up through your lamp. You may find it easier to tape the ends together. I have also seen a wire inserted from the top, wrapped around the lamp cord and the cord pulled through the lamp. At this point, it doesn't matter how much lamp cord has been pulled through, any excess can be pulled back through the lamp from the bottom.
Thread your lamp cord through the nipple ( threaded rod ) and insert into the top of your base until all but 1 and 1/4 is sticking out of the top of your lamp base.
Note: The nipple should not have wiggle room, if your hole is too big for your nipple as the above picture is, it can be wrapped a few times with electrical tape until it fits snug. Just at the very top, and just the width of the electrical tape should be fine.
Thread the locknut, provided with the kit , down the length of the nipple until it is secure against your base.
Screw on the decorative neck, also provided.
The harp bottom is next followed by the cup shaped socket cap. These are both screwed on until tight. The harp bottom will eventually support the harp, though not all lamp shades require a harp.
These are the directions that come with the GE lamp kit. With a sharp utility knife split the lamp wire up the middle between the two wires about 3 inches. With these 2 wires separated , it is now possible to tie the underwriters knot above. This will prevent the wire from ever being pulled back through the lamp.
With the kit, the plastic ends of the wires have already been stripped off and are ready for wiring. If the bare wire is not visible you'll need to take wire strippers and strip off the plastic coating.
If you look at your wire closely, you'll notice that one side of the lamp wire has ribs on it. Loosen the silver screw, wrap the ribbed wire clockwise around the screw and retighten the screw.
Loosen the brass colored screw. Wrap the wire with no ridges clockwise around that screw and retighten.
The above picture is the underwriters knot from above.
Slide the socket shell over top of all your wiring and snap into place while pulling the lamp cord from the bottom to remove any slack.
You're ready to insert a lightbulb, plug it in and be amazed that your wiring worked.
If you're using a shade that needs a harp , that can be installed at any time. Pinch the sides of the harp together and secure with a finial.
Now you're ready to make a lamp out of practically anything.
Remember, if you need ideas for your brand new lamp make sure you head on over.
Good Luck, I know you can do it!

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