Finding a modern, minimalist lamp with an affordable price tag is tough. But if you’re willing to invest a little bit of time, you can easily DIY a custom lamp to suit your taste and space.
I’m digging the copper trend right now, and luckily, copper pipe lends itself well to the form of a lamp frame. With the right materials and a couple of hours, you’ll have a stunning homemade lamp for $70 or less.
These instructions are for a lamp that is 18 inches wide, 23 inches tall, and 5 inches deep (perfect for a desk or side table), using 1/2-inch copper pipe. If you want to use a different size pipe, be sure to purchase the correctly sized fittings. To make this lamp, you’ll need:
one 5-foot-long ½-inch copper pipe
three ½-inch end caps
four ½-inch 45-degree elbows
one ½-inch tee
one lighting cord kit
one 40-watt Edison bulb
at least 20 inches of 18-gauge copper wire
01. Mark your pipe. You’ll need the following lengths: two 5-inch lengths, one 18-inch length, two 9-inch lengths, and two 2-inch lengths.
02. Tighten the pipe cutter on the pipe at the pencil mark, and then rotate around the pipe. The cut ends should be smooth, but be a little careful of jagged edges. [Note: There are other ways to cut pipe, but this pipe cutter is inexpensive and easy to use. Find it in the copper piping and fittings aisle of your local home improvement store.]
03. Before assembling your lamp, use Goo Gone to clean off residue from stickers or tags, as well as any gunk or numbers printed on the pipe.
04. Lay out your base. Use the tee in the center, with a 2-inch length on either side of the tee. Follow with a 45-degree elbow on each of those ends, then a 9-inch length followed by an end cap.
05. Apply the glue on the inside of each fitting, then insert the pipe. I used Loctite Super Glue because it dries fast. You won’t have to prop the lamp arm up while it dries. Take special care to ensure the tee fitting is perpendicular to your work surface before the glue dries, so that the lamp arm stands straight up out of the base. Keep in mind that Super Glue dries fast—you’ll only have a few seconds to make adjustments.
06. Assemble the pieces of the arm of the lamp, using the two 5-inch pieces, two 45-degree elbows, the 18-inch length, and the second end cap.
07. Apply your glue on the interior of the tee fitting in the center of the base.
08. Insert the lamp arm into the base, making sure it’s seated all the way down into the tee.
09. At this point, you’ve finished the frame of your lamp. Time to grab your light cord. Cut off five 3-4-inch sections of the 18-gauge copper wire.
10. To secure the light cord to the frame, hold the light cord on top of the pipe, and loop a piece of copper wire around the top. Then twist the wire underneath to secure. Use needle-nose pliers to twist the copper wire tight. Do this at each juncture of pipe fitting to the base of the lamp at the tee.
11. Once you’ve secured the light cord, trim the copper wire ends. Screw in your Edison bulb, and hit the switch—your DIY copper lamp is ready!