Friday, April 13, 2012

Antique Trouble Light DIY

A step-by-step guide to hacking the ol' Burnside (below) was promised and I have delivered!

As I mentioned previously, that nifty light up there is $100 (bulb not included).
Our version, we'll call it the uhh...Durnside is about $12 (bulb also, not included).

Here's how to create your own Durnside (catchy, huh?):

You will need the following, all of which I got at Lowe's

Rust-Oleum Metallic Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint..........$0 (already had it-keep this stuff on hand at all times)

Lamp Cord..........................................................$.37 per foot (you'll need about 4 feet per light)

Electrical Tape....................................................$0 (already had it, everyone should have this in their house)

Threaded Light Socket........................................$3.80 each

1/8" All Thread Lamp Pipe.................................$5.12 for about 3 feet (some places like ACE Hardware sold this in smaller increments, too) **The Burnisde hangs using a cord, we decided on something more rigid because it was easier and so they wouldn't blow around in the breeze when the doors were open.**

If you're good at math or you just like to add things up you'll notice that we're a little short. Reason? I bought these nifty escutcheon for the top of the light fixture at our local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.

They were $.50 each and we had to buy hex nuts to secure those. I spray painted them with my nifty spray paint up there as well as the lamp pipe.

Technically, those are the first two steps.

Now for the fun part, pictures!
(Better pictures than those up there that I took because Conan took the rest of these)

Set that aside and grab a length of your lamp cord (about four feet if you're not changing the length of the lamp pipe).

Pull the cord apart at the ends about an inch or so.

Strip the wires (carefully) about 3/4 of an inch.

If your wires got pulled apart in the process, just twist them tightly back together.

Grab your socket and loosen the screws on each side. There will be one brass colored screw and one silver colored.

Wrap your hot wire around the brass screw. Which one is hot, you ask? With lamp cord, since they're both the same color, the black part covering the hot wire will be sort of square shaped, the black part covering the neutral will be nice and round and smooth.

Tighten the screws over the wires then wrap everything once around with electrical tape.

Then thread the top part of your light socket onto the end of your dry, spray painted lamp pipe.
Slip the unattached end of your wire through the pipe and feed it til' it comes out the opposite end.
Cool, cool.

Push the part you just wired back in.

Then screw the bottom part back on.

There should be a little, tiny screw that you totally didn't lose track of and it will tighten against the lamp pipe, holding your light socket in place.

And ta-da! You have a light! (or two or three)

Then you just need to wire it up to your ceiling, assuming you're putting it where an existing light fixture already is, it's pretty darn easy. In fact, This Old House has an excellent tutorial on it here. Did we do that? Nah. We're totally anti-easy. We had to run wire, drill holes, attach junction boxes, the whole nine yards.

Which, by the way, truth circle guys...
I am terrible at using a power drill. Terr-i-bull.
We're talking hilariously bad.
Hey, everybody doesn't have to be great at everything, right?
Especially not everything that involves a very rational fear of drilling a hole in your hand, am I right?

Thanks for reading about our DIY Antique Trouble Light thing-y. It'll be more trouble-y (sheesh! what's with all the -y's lady?) when I get those nifty cages I ordered and spray paint them with, you guessed it, metallic oil rubbed bronze. Til' then!
*Hey kids, always exercise extreme caution when you're working with electricity. We would miss your kind and thoughtful comments if you were a crispy critter!


  1. Replies
    1. Ha! I wish! A wizard would just be like, "Kazam! Lights!" We had to actually do stuff and stuff.

  2. Can't wait to see those with the cages! Also, I'm so impressed you all painted that whole ceiling. I totally would have given up.

  3. You have no idea. Painting a ceiling like that is the. worst. I gave up a few times, actually. Luckily my mom carried on without me : )

  4. just very simple: i'm impressed. those lights are looking REAL good. i wouldn't dare to play with electricity... {but i wouldn't have bought the original lights at 100$ as well}

    1. Well thank you Helene! I'm glad you like them : )


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