How to Rewire a Lamp


I have a thang for vintage lamps because a.) they are fabulously unique, and b.) they are super cheap.

My obsession with vintage lamps began in college when I stumbled upon a pair of orange-globed wonders at Goodwill for $3 a piece.

(If you are ever in need of a fun, kooky light, go to Goodwill.  Always.)

Even though I take pride in my collection, these older models come with one BIG problem:

NON-POLARIZED PLUGS!!!

lamp1b

These bad boys have equal-sized prongs that do not distinguish between the hot and neutral wires.

Translation: Greater risk for electrical shock!

Solution: A lamp kit!

lampkit

Lamp kits can be found at almost any hardware store, and they cost around $10–a small price for safety.

Rewiring a lamp is not difficult, but it can be a little cumbersome if you are working with a model that has a lot of odd parts.

Here is how I did it:

Step 1: Remove the old lighting system

lamp5

Using wire cutters, cut the electric cord at the bottom of the lamp.  (Some lamps come with a velvet or paper cover at the bottom of the body.  Pull back to expose the cord.)

lamp6

Carefully pull lighting system out and discard.

Step 2: Disassemble lamp and TAKE PICTURES!

Carefully disassemble the lamp, making sure to line up all of the pieces in the order they were assembled in.

Now, take a photo of the lamp parts all laid out–you will need this for reference later!

lamp2a

Step 3: Make any cosmetic adjustments

I decided to give my lamps a make-over with a coat of white paint.

For best results, sand and prime metal parts before painting.

lamp7

Step 4: Feed the new lighting cord up through the lamp’s pipe

lamp1

Push the cord up through the pipe until it comes out the other end:

lamp2

Step 5: Reassemble lamp body and neck

lamp3

Here is where those pictures you took earlier will come in handy!!

Step 6: Screw harp base onto the pipe

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Step 7: Disassemble the new socket

lamp5

Step 8: Screw the bottom half of the socket onto the pipe and secure

lamp7

Step 9: Expose and loosen terminals on the top half of the socket

Gently push up the socket cover to expose the terminals.  These screws are where you will attach the cord’s wires.

lamp8

Loosen the terminals to allow room to wrap the wires.

lamp9

Step 10: Tie cord into an “electrician’s knot”

An electrician’s knot acts as a buffer against any strain put on the wires once they are attached to the terminals.  For example, if the lamp cord were to get yanked by accident from the bottom, this knot would absorb the tension allowing the wires to remain in place safely around the terminals.  As a result, this knot offers further protection against electrical shock.

lampknot3

To make the knot, use this photo as a guide:

lampknot2

Step 11: Locate ribbed wire on the cord and wrap around suggested terminal

Of the two wires that compose the electric cord, locate the one that has a ribbed plastic coating.

lamp10

The instructions on your lamp kit will tell you which color terminal to wrap this ribbed wire around.  In my case, I needed to wrap the ribbed wire around the silver terminal.

Step 12: Tighten terminals to secure wires

Make sure the wire is snug and fully wrapped around the base of the terminal.  Carefully tighten into place.  Repeat with other wire.

lamp11

Step 13: Snap the top half of the socket onto the bottom half

Double check to see if knot/wires are secured in place.

When all is ready, snap the top half of the socket onto the bottom half.

lamp13

(If for any reason you need to remove the top of the socket, carefully use a flathead screwdriver to pop it out of place.)

Finally, screw in a light bulb, plug the lamp in and let there be light!

Here is how my vintage lamp looked before its makeover:

lampbefore

And here is how it (and it’s twin) look after:

mapfinal

I am thrilled with the final results.  Now my lamps are prettier and safer for use.  Success!

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WM-pink-and-gray-Rev3

For more inspiration on making your home more beautiful and functional, check out Pancakes and French Fries each week!

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14 thoughts on “How to Rewire a Lamp

  1. Reblogged this on My Plan For World Domination and commented:

    OMG OMG OMG!!! I was just doing a tug of war with Bethany yesterday because she wanted to toss out three broken (very expensive!) lamps and I kept saying I was going to find out how to fix them!! Thank you so much for saving my lamps!!!!

  2. This is great! I’m bookmarking these instructions right now! I’m always passing by the thrift store lamps because I didn’t think I had the skills to rewire (and sure didn’t want to pay for it!). Now I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for some good finds!

  3. That is a totally awesome tutorial Leilani, I’m pinning so I can find it when I need it. I’ve always wanted to do this but were too intimidated, excellent pictures too. I like how you painted the metal white..very cute!

  4. Right! Never buy new lamps when you may stumble across perfectly good ones at G’will or elsewhere. I should probably rewire a few of mine but just never have. My favorite lamp is a 1940’s pottery lamp from an estate sale that cost $1.25.

    • Precious! Do you have a pic? Is it on your blog? Curious. 🙂 I knew I had to change the wiring because one made an unsettling buzzing sound and the bulb got hot too quickly and the other was SO hard to turn on. You had to really muscle the switch.

  5. Thanks so much for the clear tutorial. I’m intimidated by all things electrical, but this looks like something even I could do. A much better solution than I’m currently employing, which is to just use the old plugs. 🙂

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