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How to: Rewire a Lamp

So you find the perfect antique/thrift store lamp for your (fill in the blank). But of course it doesn’t work. You decide to bring it home anyway. I bet your significant other just loves it when you come home with more broken junk. Mine does.

No problem, you can still accumulate this broken piece of junk and make it into something workable. And tell your significant other you plan on selling it once it’s all fixed up. (I have 4 typewriters sitting in various places around the house, grandfathered in under the “selling it later” clause.)

Rewire a Lamp - Supplies

I found this little alabaster beauty in a tiny antique/thrift store called the Hidden Pearl in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, but the socket was loose and the cord was about three feet long… not the most practical of cords, unless you have just the spot to put it by an outlet.

So, off to the hardware store to pick up supplies. This is what I needed:

  • Longer electrical cord with two-pronged plug

  • New lamp socket with switch

  • Lamp harp

  • Lampshade and finial (these two are yet to come, I’m taking my time in finding just the right ones)

This is what else I needed, but already had:

  • Lamp to rewire

  • Flat head and Phillips head screwdriver (depends on the screws on your lamp)

  • Wire cutter/needlenose pliers

  • Wire stripper

  • Patience, as I was bound to mess up something the first time or two *(they could make a killing if they sold neat little packages of patience at the hardware store)

First, the easy part – taking the lamp apart. If you are uncertain about your electrical system, it’s a great idea to take photos as you go so that you can reference where certain wires should be connected when you’re putting it back together. However, wiring a lamp is very simple, and you’re already here checking this post out, so you’re fine. But if you get adventurous and rewire something a little more complicated, take photos as you deconstruct.

Unscrew the socket from the lamp, and loosen it all up a bit by wiggling the wiring up gently towards the socket end.

Rewire a Lamp - Deconstruction

Next, loosen the screws on either side of the bottom of the socket where the wires connect, and remove the socket.

Normally, you would next pull the old cord out and recycle it, but in my case, I had to recycle it immediately back into use, as the new cord I bought was too thick to pass up the rod inside the lamp. Because of that, I had to splice the old and new cords together, leaving a small length of old cord running inside the length of the rod.

Rewire a Lamp - Cutting Wire

Rewire a Lamp - Stripping Wire

To do this, use a wire cutter to cut the old cord to the correct length, and then use the wire stripper to pull off about ¾ inch of the cord coating. It helps, too, to pull the two coated wire sections apart about an inch for maneuverability.

(I was simultaneously rewiring another lamp, thus the different cord.)

Rewire a Lamp - Separating Wires

Rewire a Lamp - Ready to Splice

Rewire a Lamp - Crossing Wires

Then, twist each old-cord wire end to a new-cord wire end and wrap them each with electrical tape. And voila, it’s spliced! I now have a hybrid of a cord that both fits inside my lamp and reaches to a socket further than 3 feet from the lamp.

Rewire a Lamp - Splicing

*(This is where you’d add the bottom of the lamp harp if you plan on this type of lampshade, the kind with a finial. Simply thread the wires through the bottom of the lamp harp at the top of the lamp before screwing in the socket.)

Rewire a Lamp - Lamp Harp

Then comes time to add the new socket. Pull the base of the socket apart from the top, and thread the cord at the top end of the lamp through the bottom of the socket before screwing the socket base in place.

Rewire a Lamp - Screwing on Socket Base

Next, loosen the screws on the upper portion of the socket.

Rewire a Lamp - Preparing Socket

Twist the ends of the wire and curve them into a hook. Hook your twisted-wire hooks around the loosened (but not removed) screws on the socket, and tighten the screws back down.

Rewire a Lamp - Attaching Socket

Carefully and gently pull the cord down through the base of the lamp from the bottom of the lamp, and wiggle the socket down into place.

Rewire a Lamp - Tightening Things Up

Pinch the two portions of the socket together, and you’re done! Oh wait… *(this is where I realized I forgot something; see above for some pre-packaged patience and the lamp harp instructions).

Rewire a Lamp - Don't Forget the Harp!

This is the other lamp I was simultaneously rewiring, a purchase from our trip to Morocco that did not have wiring compatable to the voltage in America.

Rewire a Lamp - Moroccan Lamp

#rewire #lamp #homeimprovement #fixit #DIY #electronics

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