Make: Lamp from Tripod and Lampshade from Ductwork

I know I said a few weeks ago that we were going to get started on utilitarian house projects soon. Well, not quite yet… because first we had to make this old tripod into a floor lamp. And here’s Monica, reading the paper by the light of the finished lamp (when she should be caulking or doing something useful!).

We found this old telescope tripod at 2nd Use Building Materials. It was very cool – a silverish patina on the wood, with black metal details. Our friend Cliff said “Hey, you should make a floor lamp!”. Ok, that sounds more fun than caulking any day.

We did some research online on how to build a lamp and picked up some supplies from our local hardware store. Because we are not expert electricians, we are not going to do a detailed step-by-step here, but you can find lots of sources online by people who really know what they are doing. All we can vouch for is that we took several trips to the hardware store getting the correct bits/parts. We’d walk in and the guy would say “oh, back again, huh?”. We finally accumulated the correct parts, painted the bright brass black and started wiring the lamp.

  1. There happened to be a narrow channel in each of the legs, that was perfect for tucking/hiding the cord as it traveled up to the socket.
  2. Sliding on the “threaded nipple”, with the knurled nut, washer, lock nut onto the wire. (learned a whole new interesting vernacular on this project.)
  3. Threading the wire through the round tube at the top of the tripod.
  4. Attaching a large washer and another lock nut to secure the nipple to the tripod.

After the nipple was secured, we attached the “harp”, screwed on the bottom part of the socket, and tied an underwriter’s knot in the wires. Pretty proud of this part, although we kept on calling it an “undertakers” knot. Then we stripped the end of the wires and attached the top part of the socket. We attached a plug to the end of the cord, turned it on, and low and behold – it worked!

Next for the shade.

We thought the shade should have a little more character than normal and came up with the idea of converting an air duct reducer to a lampshade. We bought one at Home Depot for about $10, but it was too shiny and bright. Again we went online, this time googling “how to make galvanized metal darker” and found this wonderful and simple tip on

Here’s what the duct reducer looked like new (top). We coated it with toilet cleaner and let it sit in the sun for a while. (Thank goodness we had sun in Seattle that day.) The bottom photo shows the “aged” metal. So much better! Thanks Meridian Road!

Next was figuring out how to attach the shade to the harp. I had some galvanized straps that we saved from when we ripped out our heating ductwork a few years ago. They happen to fit perfectly across the top of the shade, they just needed some holes drilled.

  1. Drilling one of the two center holes for the threaded rod of the harp.
  2. Aligning the center holes, establishing a 90 degree angle, and securing with tape.
  3. Drilling holes to attach straps to shade.
  4. Marking placement of holes onto shade.
  5. Punching a hole into the metal with a large nail and hammer.

Here’s what the straps look like attached to the shade – washer, spacer, and nut on the inside, and bolt, washer on the outside.

And here’s the final project – okay, maybe now we will do something useful!

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.

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6 thoughts on “Make: Lamp from Tripod and Lampshade from Ductwork

  1. You guys are too cool for school. Who would walk by an air duct reducer and think ‘bingo’. You’ve probably noticed by posts I’ve made about my craft room that our decorating styles a pretty different, but I just think your creativeness rocks.

  2. Pingback: Decoupage a vintage lampshade - Mod Podge Rocks

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