Supplies for making light fixtures

Written by katherine harder
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Supplies for making light fixtures
Three essential fixture components are the cord, the socket and the bulb. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

You can make your own light fixture from almost any heat-resistant object, as long as you have the right supplies. You can use a lamp kit, which will contain everything you need for your DIY light fixture, or your can gather the necessary components on your own to create a table lamp, pendant light or other light fixture.

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Sockets and Lightbulbs

A standard lighting fixture socket consists of the socket and a socket cover. To assemble your socket, remove the socket cover to expose the socket's two screws. Exposed lamp cord wires wrap around these screws to give the lighting fixture power. When you've successfully connected wires to the screws, you can replace the socket cover. The size of your socket determines the size of your light bulb. Only screw in your light bulb once all wiring is complete.

Lamp Cord With Plug

Every light fixture needs a power source, and a lamp cord with a plug end accomplishes that task inexpensively. At the plugless end of your lamp cord, two individual wires emerge. You might need to strip the cord to expose these wires. To connect your lamp cord to a socket, wrap one wire around each screw. Wrap the wires in opposite directions unless otherwise directed by your socket's packaging instructions. If your lamp socket does not include a switch, look for a lamp cord with a switch attached so you don't have to add a switch or unplug your fixture to turn it off.

Lampshades and Other Diffusing Elements

Unless you're comfortable with the bright light emitted by undiffused light bulbs, add a diffusing element to your list of light fixture supplies. The most obvious candidate for the task is a lampshade. To simplify the process of building a table lamp, buy a lampshade with a wire "mouth" that hugs the light bulb. This allows you to avoid the extra cost of a lamp harp and finial. You can also repurpose items into shades. A project on the Ready Made website features ostrich eggs that are partly sawn off to create a pendant shade. You could also use a wire basket covered in fabric or a paper sphere.

Miscellaneous Materials

Depending on what type of fixture you want to make, you'll need a few extra materials. If you're making a table lamp out of an object that doesn't have good internal support, a hollow metal rod through which you can thread the lamp cord might be necessary. If you want to hide your work, such as where wires are connected, you might use heat-shrink tubing that matches your lamp cord's colour. If you're building a hanging fixture, you'll need a canopy or ceiling hook.

Tools

When you're ready to assemble your pieces into a working light fixture, you'll need a few basic tools. A wire stripper allows you to strip away your lamp cord's insulation so you can attach the cord to the socket. If you're creating a light fixture from an unusual object, such as a toy or a wine bottle, you'll need a drill to make holes in the object. Use a drill bit that is designed for the material you're using.

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