Bright Idea: How to make a cool industrial pipe lamp yourself — and savehundreds in the process
When my boyfriend was getting ready to move into a downtown loft, he wanted lighting that matched the industrial aesthetic of the apartment’s tall ceilings and exposed concrete floors. Although he liked the industrial pipe lamps found in Restoration Hardware, West Elm and online at Conant Metal & Light, he wasn’t looking to spend $600 on a lamp and was convinced there was a way to make one.
So we spent an afternoon at Lowe’s brainstorming and came away with all the parts needed for a DIY industrial lamp.
All the parts for this lamp can be found in the electrical and plumbing aisles at Lowe’s, Home Depot or your favorite hardware store. Expect to spend around $65 in parts, which is a steal compared to the $200-$600 you can spend on the designer lamps. A tip for the ladies wanting to make this a couple’s project: Tell your man you need him to pick up a few things from the hardware store.
It’s a surefire way to get him on board.
Two to three hours (including buying the parts)
One clamp light
One ¾” steel set screw connector
One ¾” 90° EMT elbow
One ¾” rigid conduit pipe (if it’s not precut, ask someone at the hardware store to cut it to 5’ or your desired length)
One ¾” gate valve
Two ¾” compression connector
One butt splice
One ½” squeeze connector
One ceiling box, 4” octagon with ½” knockouts
Four ½” box spacer
Four ¾” x ½” galvanized reducer coupling
Four ¾”galvanized 90° street elbow
One 16 gauge replacement chord, at least 8 feet long (or an extension chord cut to strip the wires)
One light bulb
1. Start by building the base of the lamp. Punch out the top center and side knockouts on the ceiling box.
2. Screw the four ½” box spacers into the smaller ends of the four ¾” x ½” galvanized reducer couplings.
3. Screw the four ¾” galvanized 90° street elbows into the larger ends of the galvanized reducer couplings used in Step 2. These form the legs of the base.
4. Attach the legs to the side knockouts on the ceiling box using a wrench to tighten the box spacers in place.
5. To build the body of the lamp, attach and tighten the ¾” steel set screw connector to one end of the ¾” 90° EMT elbow. On the other end, screw on one of the ¾” compression connectors.
6. Screw the ¾” gate valve to the compression connector and add the second compression connector to the valve’s other end.
7. Attach the ¾” rigid conduit pipe to the second compression connector at the valve’s end.
8. Attach the ½” squeeze connector to the end of the conduit pipe and screw into the center knockout of the ceiling box base.
9. String the replacement chord through the ceiling box and body of the lamp until it reaches the other end of the lamp body.
10. Cut the plug off the clamp light and strip the wire.
11. Using the butt splice, attach the red and white wires on the replacement chord to the red and white wires, respectively, on the clamp light’s chord. Electrical tape may be used instead, but the splice offers a more secure connection.
12. After the chords are safely secured, insert light bulb into the clamp lamp and plug in the replacement chord to make sure the lamp works and the wires are attached properly.
13. Finally, pull the replacement chord back down the conduit pipe until the clamp light hangs just below the steel set screw connector.
The lamp is highly customizable. Use an old Edison filament bulb to give the lighting an extra nostalgic look. For a little bit more money, use all galvanized metal or copper parts for a more refined and aged aesthetic, or paint the finished product with Rust-Oleum ($7 at Lowe’s) for a hammered finish in copper, bronze, silver or gold.