Instructions on How to Build a Table Lamp

Updated April 17, 2017

You find a gorgeous vintage vase but it is too old to risk filling with water. You could easily turn it into a boudoir table lamp. The method works for almost any container you would like to build into a lamp, no matter the width of the opening. Even cylindrical vases can be adapted.

Prepare the glass or ceramic container by thoroughly washing and rinsing. If the container is transparent, it must be completely dry or condensation will accumulate on the inside of the glass.

Decide where your socket will be placed. A regular neck vase is the easiest to adapt. If the socket set is too wide to fit down the neck, use the hollow rod in the conversion kit. Put it through the cork sleeve. Pass the electrical cord through the tube and attach to the socket according to directions on the package.

If the vase is a cylindrical style, turn it upside down. Use a measuring tape to mark the centre of the top opening. Measure the circumference of the socket set. Remember to also include ½ inch around to accommodate the cork sleeve.

Use the diamond drill bit to cut a hole in the centre of the bottom of the vase. Many lamp kits come with predrilled corks but if not, purchase a cork that is at least half an inch wider than the socket set. Drill out the middle of the cork to accommodate the socket fitting the entrance hole.

The plug fits through a hole you will drill in the bottom side of the vase. Measure the width of the electrical plug. Use the diamond drill bit to drill a hole in the side of the vase near the bottom. This is where the electrical cord and plug will fit after the socket has been adhered to the top.

Use rubber cement to secure the socket in the cork sleeve. Allow to dry. Drop the assembly--including the cord and plug--through the top opening. Securely set the cork into the top of the lamp. You may use rubber cement to help bond the cork to the glass.

Set the harp in place and top with the appropriate size of shade. Secure the shade to the top of the lamp with a decorative finial if you wish.


If you have trouble fishing the cord through the bottom plug opening, bend a wire coat hanger to help complete the job. If the lamp is too light, fill it with marbles to give it more weight. If the neck of the vase is too tight, you may use the diamond tip bit to cut it down to a spot where the socket can be accommodated.


Diamond drill bits are capable of drilling glass with smooth edges. Regular bits may shatter glass or ceramic.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Glass or ceramic container
  • Lamp conversion kit
  • Cork stoppers, if necessary, measured to fit the opening
  • Rubber cement
  • Harp
  • Finial (optional)
  • Drill
  • Diamond point drill bit
  • Wire coat hanger (optional)
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About the Author

Pat Olsen has over 35 years of experience as a professional journalist in California. She attended San Francisco State and Pacific College. Olsen has several published books, is a staff writer for Mill Creek Living Magazine, and currently writes for Demand Studio. She is a retired educator who still teaches twice a week.