I don’t know what it is about industrial lighting, but I’ve had the itch to make another unique light since I made the Restoration Hardware inspired pendant light that hung in Taylor’s office-in-a-closet in our last house. When I spied this antique copper desk heater made into a lamp for $290 on Houzz.com, it was love at first sight and I knew I could make a lamp very similar to it myself.
This copper heater repurposed into a lamp makes such a great conversation piece and it’s a pretty easy DIY project. I made one for my oldest son’s room that was in the Rustic & Industrial Dormer Bedroom Reveal and I made a second one recently that I’ll sell.
Supplies used to make a lamp out of a copper heater:
(Some links are affiliate links)
Antique copper desk lamp from eBay or Etsy. (I found better deals on Ebay)
ST58 Edison bulb. These are the shorter ones.
Vintage style twisted cloth wire
To save a few steps and a little money, you can buy this cloth-covered wire that has the plug included (click the Amazon link below). They’ve even stripped the ends of the wires to prepare it for wiring. All you have to do is add the rocker switch. I wish I has found this before I started my project!
You’ll also need these tools:
Phillips head screwdriver
The first step is to remove the old heater element and wiring. From my experience with both antique heaters I repurposed, this only took a simple twist to unscrew the old socket.
Once the old wiring is gone, it’s the perfect time to clean the copper interior. I tried a couple homemade copper cleaning recipes, but when cleaning 80+ years of tarnish, they just weren’t cutting it. It looked like it hadn’t ever been cleaned. I ended up using Wright’s Copper Cleaner and a lot of elbow grease. I’ve since learned that Never Dull metal cleaner works wonders.
I don’t claim to be an expert electrician so I won’t go into the nitty-gritty details on wiring and installation. But I can show you how everything looked once I put it together.
When using an inline rocker switch, make sure you use a polarized plug. One prong will be bigger than the other. I connected the rocker switch with the hot (black) wire. The easiest way to find the right wire when using the cloth-covered twisted wire is to make a tiny cut in the cloth where you plan on putting the switch. Just make sure you don’t cut into the wire.
Tip: when wiring and using the fabric covered cord, use a lighter to burn off the strays.
All that’s left after that it to put it back together and now you’ve got yourself a unique, industrial lamp that is both rustic and refined!
I’ve got a couple more tutorials from the dormer bedroom reveal coming up. If you’ve been following along on Instagram then you got a sneak peek on our newest 3-rooms-in-one project we’ve been working on. I seriously can’t wait to give you the details that!!!
If you love industrial lighting as much as I do, check out these other DIY lighting projects:
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David & Terri says
Great Job! We done 4 of those and you’re right, people can easily do those themselves when you compare prices on vintage items repurposed, you get that creative bug yourself.
My wife 1st asked me to make a kitchen lamp out of a 1939’s chrome toaster. The kind that does 1 side at a time. Well, others wanted lamps made for them, so, what we don’t keep or give to family and friends, we throw them up onto Craigslist to keep simple and local in Austin Texas.
David & Terri
This is really cool! I’ve seen lights made from old fans too, I’d like to try this!
I haven’t seen that done with a fan yet but I have a couple vintage ones I’m holding onto. That gives me an idea on how to repurpose one of them. 🙂