DIY Tripod Lamp

**Added:  Check out my Electrical Wiring Tutorial for more help wiring your own  lamp! **

 I've had an old telescope since I saved up for it as a kid.  I haven't used it in 10 (maybe 15?) years!  I finally decided - why let that awesome tripod base go to waste!  I'll make it into a lamp.

Here's what you'll need:
  • tripod base
  • lamp kit
if not included in lamp kit, also get
  • cord set for lamp wiring
  • harp
  • lamp nipple:  1/8 IP (IP: international pipe standard)
  • 3/8"x1½" fender washers or lamp check rings (depends on the size of the hole at the top of your tripod)
  • lamp spindle, neck, or socket cover
  • locknuts and washers (in lamp section) for threaded 1/8 IP
  • finial
Tripods are hard to find at the thrift store, so maybe you're best bet is to get one on Craigslist or at a garage sale.

Start with the nipple (what is it with hardware and carpentry terms being so... hmmm.  It never bothered me until I had to write about it where thousands hundreds of people would read it). 

The nipple is what holds everything together and to the base.  It's all hollow so the wires can go through last.  Size matters.  Pick one long enough for your tripod base with as much left over as you want the shade to be above the base.

1.  Attach socket and harp to nipple with small washer and nut
The socket comes apart like this.  The metal shell slides up exposing the screw wire connectors.  The cap at the bottom screws onto the nipple.

I used a socket cover to hide the nipple and add height between the base and lampshade.
I cut the socket cover a little shorter with a hacksaw and spray painted it black.  Then I lined everything up like in the picture.
  • Socket, harp, then washer and locknut to hold the harp in place.
  • Socket cover, then large fender washer (also sprayed black).
The other end of the nipple went through the hole in the tripod...

  •  and the second large washer and locknut went on the other side of the tripod opening to hold it all in place.

2.  Wire the lamp

I just buy an old extension cord at the thrift store, cut off the end farthest from the plug and strip the wires.

a tripod is nicely designed for the cord to run up a leg easily.  You can use zip ties or bag ties to attach.
Pass the cord through the nipple and socket cap.

at the top you need to make an underwriter's knot in the wires (see picture).

Then attach wires to socket with a screwdriver.  Loosen socket screws, twist each wire around the screw and tighten.
  • There are two wires that make up the cord.  The one with writing on it attaches to the silver screw.

3.  Snap light socket and shell back onto the cap
Get a lightbulb, plug it in and pull the cord!

It works!
This may sound hard, but it's really pretty easy once you do it a few dozen times. 

Personally,  it took me FOREVA to figure out how I wanted everything.
I also needed to go back Home Depot for bigger washers and the lamp socket cover.  And I got the worst Braxton Hicks contraction.
Can you picture it?
Middle of the week, middle of the day (only contractors, aka "tough guys" around), and I'm doubled over in the middle of the store, knuckles white on my cart.  Doesn't help that I look 10 months pregnant instead of just 8!  Haaah!  It was funny.

In the end, I must have taken the lamp apart and reconnected it two three times!
But in the end, I figured it all out!
I also recovered a lampshade for this lamp.

Best part:  It's adjustable!  It "fits" my  decor too, though I'm not sure what that style is...

I love, love, LOVE, this lamp!  I thought I would love it, but it is my hands down favorite project so far (that didn't involve putting holes in the wall).

I'm linking this post up with

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14 Responses
  1. Wow! How clever is this idea. I'm going back to read word for word what you did. Your idea really opens doors to other unique ways to create lamps. I've always wanted to try something 'out there' but didn't have enough info. This could be it!

    Thanks for linking up to SNS!
    FJ Donna

  2. You did a great job. I looks awesome!

    I'm featuring a giveaway. I'd love it if you stopped by!

  3. You are awesome. Lamps scare scares me...but your post makes it not seem so scary! Thanks for stopping by 504 Main...I am a new follower on that alone!


  4. Thanks gals!
    I'm glad you all could visit!

    I was wondering if I should do a tutorial on some wall sconces I recently wired in my playroom... a bigger project than this was fursure... anyone interested?

  5. I keep seeing your name on blog parties and it makes me giggle! I am pregnant as well and enjoy digging into the power tools, but I haven't made a lamp!! Great job, I had no idea this was even possible and will be coming back to this!

    I don't know why I haven't been here and followed you sooner!
    -Ann Marie

  6. Oh! I can totally picture you in HD going: "owie!owie!owie!" as the contractors looked on! Lol! You're sucha tough mama! You go girl!

  7. Great job! Looks nice in the room.

    Hope you'll drop by AtticMag to give JaneT some advice on making a bench from a vintage bed. #81 on Met Monday.


  8. That's so cool! I just did a post about a lamp makeover I recently performed and mentioned how desperate I was to try a tripod lamp too! Thanks for the tute.

  9. I love the highend tripod lamps you see in the store. You did a great job with yours and even provided great step-by-step instructions for everyone else. Love the shade you made for it. If I would make one I would use a linen drum shade.

  10. I totally want to do a new drum shade! I agree that it would look awesome! I just have to wait till I see one the right size at the thrift store... ahhh patience... so hard.

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