Types of fittings on lamps

Written by cathy welch
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Types of fittings on lamps
Lamps are comprised of a number of specialised fittings. (lamp image by TEA from Fotolia.com)

The lamps in your home are comprised of a variety of fittings. Some of these components are the same for most lamps. The body of the lamp has a hole bored from top to bottom that the lamp's pipe threads through, housing the lamp's cord, which carries the wiring up to the lamp socket. Shades are as different as the people who own the lamps. Specialised fittings are typically sold in building supply retail stores.

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Lamp Pipe

Lamp pipe is a threaded steel tube that is typically brass plated. The standard size of a lamp pipe is 1/8 IP, which is the abbreviation for "iron pipe" as defined by the 19th century Briggs Standard of Wrought-iron Pipe Dimensions. A 1/8 IP lamp pipe has an outer diameter of 0.405 inches and fits in a 7/16-inch hole. These threaded steel tubes are manufactured with 27 threads to the inch.

Lamp pipe is a threaded tube that houses the lamp's wiring.
Lamp pipe is a threaded tube that houses the lamp's wiring. (rusty threads image by Thor Jorgen Udvang from Fotolia.com)

Accessories for Lamp Pipe

Lamp pipes are fitted with adaptors, locknuts and reducers that are specialised components. Do not assume standard fittings will work. Hardware, building supply and crafts stores often carry these fittings.

Types of fittings on lamps
Lamp locknuts are specialised. (nuts and bolts image by Darren White from Fotolia.com)


Harps are the wire brackets that provides a frame for the lamp shade to attach to. The harp fits around and above the light bulb and socket. The bottom of the two wires fit in a mounting bracket on either side of the lamp's socket and is held in place by a sleeve that slides over the wire and bracket to secure the harp in place. A lamp harp is typically 7 to 12 inches tall and is graduated in steps of 1/2 inch. Over 12 inches the harps are available in graduated heights from 1 to 15 inches and up. At the top of the harp is a 1/4-inch threaded screw that the shade fits over and is held in place by a finial.

Types of fittings on lamps
The harp supports the shade above and around the light bulb. (Red Lamp image by Towards Ithaca from Fotolia.com)


The socket of the lamp is the fitting you screw the light bulb into. Sockets are available in a number of sizes and switch types and can include a built-in timer. Sockets can operate with a pull chain, push switch, twisting stem or is automatic. Automatic sockets are larger as they must house a photo electric cell which responds to light to turn the lamp on and off.

The light bulb screws into the lamp's socket.
The light bulb screws into the lamp's socket. (lamp and socket image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from Fotolia.com)


The wire framework inside of a lampshade is topped by a wire or brass spider. This is a three-spoked apparatus that is joined in the middle by the ring that fits over and is screwed to the top of the lamp harp and secured by a finial. Some spiders feature four legs.

Types of fittings on lamps
A lamp's spider can have three or four legs. (shade image by Allyson Ricketts from Fotolia.com)


Finials are the screw caps that screw to the top of the lamp's harp to secure the shade. Finials are as plain as a brass ball or as elaborate as you can imagine. Finials are brass, wrought iron, wood, glass, ceramic, resin and so on. Finials are interchangeable, offering the homeowner the option to change it with the season or a changing decor.

The finial is the topmost piece of the lamp, securing the shade.
The finial is the topmost piece of the lamp, securing the shade. (handmade lamp image by Savu Razvan from Fotolia.com)

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