I love when inspiration strikes – especially when it makes for an awesome DIY project.
When we put my grandma’s house on the market, we did a ton of cleaning, emptying, selling, and donating.
One of the last things left was a homemade fishing lamp that was set aside for my uncle who enjoyed fishing. He wasn’t interested in the lamp, so on closing day, my dad grabbed the lamp on his way out of the door. It was the very last item left.
That’s when the inspiration came.
My dad does not fish – however, he is a model train collector, and he noticed that the base of the lamp would perfectly fit one of his trains.
So, he repurposed the old fisherman’s lamp into a train lamp, rewiring it with a three-way light switch that toggles the main lamp light as well as a train cabin light.
How cool is that?!
My dad’s friends loved his repurposed lamp so much that my dad decided to make one from scratch for his friend’s birthday.
How to Make a Lamp
Today, we are sharing how to make this amazing DIY lamp. Ash made the base, and my dad did the rest. For clarity, we’ll state all the directions in first person point of view. Without further ado, here are all of the details on how you can make a DIY lamp too.
You can use any item or model that you’d like 🙂
DIY Lamp Materials
- Model for lamp
- Piece of 2 x 10 for base
- 2 x 1 ¼ wood for lamp pole
- Electrical lamp components (3 way 2-circuit socket switch and threaded lamp pipe)
- Lamp wiring, shade and bulbs
How to Make the Base of the DIY Lamp
First I started with the base of this DIY lamp. It is 15 ½” by 9.” Depending upon what model that you are putting on the lamp, it can be larger or smaller. I used a train that was nearly 12″ long so these measurements worked out perfectly.
To make the base, I started with a rectangular block of scrap wood (cut from a 2×10 board). My plan was to shape it into an oval, route a groove around the top perimeter and sand it smooth.
To get a perfect oval, I used the computer. I created an oval in software, printed it and laid the cutout on the scrap wood. I then outlined the cutout with a pencil.
To finish the base, I used the orbital sander once again to smooth the flat surfaces.
Here is the completed base:
How to Make the Lamp Pole
Next was the lamp pole. The pole was 2 1/2″ by 1 1/2″ by 8 1/4″ high upright. So, 2″ by 1 ¼ ” wood could be used. When choosing your model to go on the base, keep in mind the height of the pole, as it might need to be greater to allow room above the model and below the shade in order to reach lamp switch.
First, mark the center of each end of the upright wood pole. Then carefully drill from both ends. Use a level, so that holes drilled closely align in the middle.
A small round file is helpful if the holes do not align.
I used 3/8″ drill, as it perfectly allowed for a standard threaded lamp pipe to fit snugly in the hole.
Here’s the threaded lamp pipe inserted into the pole.
After that, stain and then polyurethane both pieces of wood. I did two coats of stain on the base and it was perfect.
I let the stain, and then polyurethane each dry overnight.
Additional Lamp Pole Work
Returning to the lamp pole, on the side that is to be the back of the lamp, I drilled a 5/16 hole. This hole was made at a 45 degree angle about 1” from the bottom. I drilled until it connected with the existing ⅜ hole.
Then, on the front side of the pole, drill a very similar hole, about 2″ from the bottom.
Here’s one of the 45 degree holes I made:
Assembling the Electrical Parts
Next, I threaded the electrical lamp cord (stranded) into both holes until there are a few inches of each above the top end of the wood.
Next, I aligned the electrical lamp components.
Note that the socket has to be the type with a three-way switch. This way it will work both it’s own socket and a remote one sequentially.
The spacer and the socket bottom will thread into the threaded lamp piece that will be inserted into the wood.
Attaching the Lamp Pole
Once that is done, I centered the upright wooden lamp pole at the rear of the base.
Then, trace the outline with a pencil. Divide that shape in two, and locate the center of each of the two halves.
Afterward, drill pilot holes through the base at those spots.
Next, turn the base over, and enlarge the holes. However, they should be a diameter less than that of the screws to be used. So, use a countersink drill bit so that the wood screw heads will be recessed.
Then, insert the screws until they protrude slightly from the top side.
Afterward, set the post in position so that the screw tips mark the underside of the post where the screws will enter the bottom of that post.
Next, drill screw holes in bottom of the post where marked, and hold the two pieces of wood together tightly while screws are tightened.
I used 2 1/2″ wood screws due to thickness of the base. If post is not level due to any warp in the base, insert a shim under the post or remove post and trim its bottom surface.
Assembling the Lamp Parts
Next, you want to very carefully read the instructions that came with the socket.
With both wires extended through the threaded lamp pipe and the socket base, push the pipe down into the wood base. If it doesn’t fit tightly, put some wood glue on the threads first.
Next, very neatly wire the socket exactly as the instructions state, noting which wire will go to the wall outlet and which to the model.
After, put the metal cover on the socket, and slowly pull the excess wires at both small holes at the base of the posts.
Then, I snapped the socket cover into its base. Make sure that the lamp switch is to the right side.
Customizing the Model
Next, I disassembled the model I was building into the lamp. I used the mounting holes in the small socket as a template for drilling holes in the floor of the model for screws to attach the socket.
Also, I drilled a hole for the electrical wire to enter the model.
With the small socket attached to the model with screws, washers, and nuts, use a pair of 5″ or longer twist ties to securely fasten the model’s axles to the rear rail of the track.
Next, I installed the small frosted light bulb into model’s socket. You could also consider taping thin yellow plastic sheet pieces over the insides of the model’s windows to dim glare.
Finishing the Lamp
After, install the lamp cord plug for wall outlet, allowing about 6′ of cord.
Then, reassemble the model, adding the lamp shade and a standard light bulb.
Here is the finished DIY lamp, featuring a model train.
Here is the finished DIY lamp along with the repurposed lamp that was previously a fishing lamp. Not bad, right?! The best part is that now that you know how to make a DIY lamp – you can make one with any kind of model. The sky’s the limit!