Ever since I saw a lamp made from an old tripod in some magazine (I honestly don’t remember which one) ages ago, I have wanted one. It mixes the industrial look with modern lines and involves upcycling. Ooooh, I was in love. I needed to make one. So, I did.
It was actually pretty easy to make. Here’s how:
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– A tripod. The hardest part of this project is finding the tripod. I found mine at our local thrift store. It was a whopping $6.99.
– Spray paint – I used Rust-Oleum Universal All-Surface Spray Paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze.
– A drill bit that can drill into metal. You only need this if the hole in the tripod where the lamp kit will go is too small. I learned this the hard way and ended up making an extra trip to the hardware store!
– A lamp kit – I used one similar to this Lamp Kit. Tip: Find a lamp kit that has the color cord you want. They come with white, black, or brown cords, usually. I used one with a white cord first, and that looked terrible (see below), so I ended up having to rewire the lamp.
– A lamp shade. I used one I already had from Target.
– A light bulb. Of course.
How to Build the Tripod Lamp:
1. Clean the Tripod, then Paint It.
When I got it, the tripod was a bit rusty:
So the first thing I did was clean it, then spray paint it with a paint+primer combo. I used Rust-Oleum Universal Metallic spray paint in oil-rubbed bronze.
It took two light coats and the rust was gone.
2. Install the Lamp Kit.
To install the lamp kit, I removed the top part of the tripod – where the camera would have been attached. Then I was ready to install the kit.
For the lamp kit, the “nipple” (the piece the cord goes through and to which the socket attaches) was bigger than the hole in the top of the tripod. So, back to the hardware store I went for a drill bit. I drilled the hole a bit larger so the nipple would fit:
To drill the hole, make sure that the tripod is on a flat surface and is stable. I did this on the floor of my garage. DO NOT do this on a wooden surface; the force of the drill will likely cause the tripod legs to gauge it.
Use a clamp or a friend if needed to hold it in place. Wear safety goggles and set the drill to a pretty high setting to get through the metal. Hold your breath, know you can do it, and drill. It was easy once I got the drill to the right setting.
Now comes the second hardest part: figuring out the instructions to the lamp kit. They aren’t clear, by any stretch of the imagination. Also, you need to know how to tie an “underwriter’s knot,” which I googled to understand how to do it. There are videos, like this one.
What in the world did we do before Google?
Anyway, follow the instructions on the lamp kit…
…and add the bulb and shade of your choice.
Except…I didn’t like the cord hanging down and being white – it just stood out too much.
So, I got a brown cord – roughly the same color as the oil-rubbed bronze tripod – and rewired the lamp socket with the new cord. You can buy just the cord at the hardware store, FYI. Once I rewired it, I then tucked the cord in the groove in the tripod legs. You can avoid this step entirely by just buying a lamp kit with the color cord you want.
Look at the difference:
And that’s how you turn a tripod into a lamp!