Tag Archive for lamp

Cigar Box Lamp, MK II

Verson 2.0 of my cigar box lamp is complete. This time it has twin bulbs and a dimmer switch. The dimmer has push-on, push-off functionality, instead of turning to switch on. This lets you turn it on to whatever brightness it was set to last time. I actually prefer the kind where you twist to turn it on, then brighten…but this one was free from a friend. The problem with the dimmer is that it’s designed for a wall switch, and had a big ugly white dial on it. Underneath that is a big ugly shaft, that goes up and down when you click the lamp on and off (that’s the main reason I don’t like ’em). Some alternatives were tried, like a wine cork:


And a more stylish radio knob:


I think I tried a chicken head knob as well. All had potential, but I felt like I needed something more to spruce up the switch area. That’s when I found a load of old rusty door hardware at a store in Gowanus. Keyhole covers, maybe? All I know is, I loved the shapes. I picked ’em up for a buck a piece or so. Just looking at these suckers could give you tetanus.


The store had three shapes, all with their own character.


Some de-rusting treatment (WD-40, sandpaper) brought out the potential. I decided not to make them completely shiny, since I liked the halfway distressed look.


Here’s how they look on the box:





Still playing with ideas for the switch. On a more square box, I could also add brass corners. I’d like for this thing to be really slick when it’s done. By the way, those cut-glass bulbs cast some really cool patterns on the wall when they’re on. Found them at Lowes, so they’re easy to come by.

Cigar box lamp, MK I

I really enjoy making things out of cigar boxes. I’m working on some instruments, but for quick and dirty fun you can’t beat a simple table lamp. Here’s what I used:

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  • cigar box
  • cord and plug assembly
  • electrical wire
  • wire caps
  • socket
  • vintage-style bulb
  • toggle switch
  • hand drills and bits
  • needle files
  • pliers
  • wire snippers
  • compass
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • clamp
  • brush
  • tea
  • more tea

To work!


First off, I marked where I wanted the power cord to come into the box.


Clamped and drilled.


Wire’s through the hole, with an underwriter’s knot to keep it there. Very handy trick, that knot.

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The plug goes onto the other end of the wire.


Next I drilled a hole for the toggle switch, on the top of the box.


I didn’t have a big enough bit, so I used a file to enlarge the hole.


And now it fits!




This is where things got…interesting. I measured out how big a hole I’d need to fit the socket into the box.


I bored holes along the diameter with the drill and then used my needle files to cut between them. Would have been nice to have a hole saw right about now.


This took a while. And required more tea.


Finally! The socket fit in place. This model was keyless, with springy tangs on the side to keep it in place.




Now that everything was in place, I wired it up and prayed (I hadn’t made anything electrical before).



The finished lamp




It works! Damn was it bright, though. 60w bulb, but that long squirrel cage filament is a doozie.


Photo taken with the shutter speed waaay up to capture the filament.