DIYdiy projects

DIY Project: Copper + Branch Floor Lamp

by Kate Pruitt

We have this very annoying tree right outside our apartment that blocks all light from our windows, thwarting the sun’s attempts to warm us with its golden rays of energy. Damn you, tree! Recently I begged our landlord to at least consider trimming it back, and he finally relented, which left me with both a modicum of precious sunlight and some great large branches to use for projects! One of the felled limbs was especially long and solid and had a wonderful, gentle arc that just seemed so lamplike; I couldn’t resist. “I’ve lost my purpose. Make me a light!” it cried. Not really.

With autumn upon us, I decided to pair the branch with rich, warm copper and used a lovely sap-green color on the base to complement the season. Personally, I like the wonky bare-bones style of this little lamp, but if you wanted to dress it up a bit (my boyfriend said the copper part looked like a shower head . . . not cool dude), you could easily make or buy a solid cylindrical shade to place over the bulb. Now, don’t go hacking down trees like I did, but if you happen upon a fallen branch, I hope you’ll try this simple lighting project. Happy crafting! — Kate

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .


  • large branch (Look for one that isn’t too perfectly straight or too twisty but has a slight arc to it and is at least 1.5″ thick at its base to ensure it’s sturdy enough.)
  • log stump slice (Mine is prop from a friend’s wedding, but you can ask around at lumber yards for these, or you could buy several thinner ones from craft stores like Michael’s and glue a stack together to make a thick base. If all else fails, try searching for firewood sellers on Craigslist, and ask if they have any stumps they could cut for you.)
  • 4–6 small eye hooks (depending on the length/height of your branch)
  • 15–20′ black lamp cord
  • chandelier socket kit
  • 6″ copper pipe (1/2″ diameter — you can have this cut for you, or buy a standard length and use a pipe cutter to cut yourself)
  • 90-degree copper elbow (1/2″ diameter)
  • 1/2″ to 3/4″ copper coupling
  • 3/4″ copper coupling (NOTE: All the copper pipe and pieces can be found at larger hardware stores like Ace, OSH, Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc., in the plumbing dept.)
  • high-gloss paint and foam paintbrush (any color you want, I chose sap green)
  • palm sander or sandpaper
  • drill with standard bit, 1.5″ boring bit (also known as a paddle bit) and a 1/2″ boring/paddle bit
  • 25- to 40-watt chandelier-size lightbulb



1. Sand your wood stump slice and cut the bottom edge of your branch with a saw to make a flat surface. Hold the branch over your wood stump to determine placement. I decided to set mine off-center for looks and to offset the arc of the lamp, but you could also place it in the center. Trace the branch with a pencil to mark the spot.

2. Use your 1.5″ boring bit to drill a circular hole in the center of where you traced the branch. Then switch to a small drill bit (1/8″ or smaller) to drill a small pilot hole directly through the center of the hole through the entire stump. This is the pilot hole for the screw or nail that you will embed from the bottom.

3. Place a good amount of wood glue onto the bottom of your branch and into the hole you made, then put the branch in place. Put tape around the base to secure it in place and set aside for the glue to dry. You may need to prop the branch against a wall to hold it in place while the glue dries.

4. Once the glue is dry, hammer a 2″ nail or screw a flathead screw into the base of the branch from the underside of the stump, using the pilot hole you pre-drilled. This is not necessarily needed, but I like to add it for extra stability on top of the glue.

5. Assemble your copper fittings and pipe together as shown below, and hold it up to the branch to determine where you want the pipe to extend. Mark the place on the branch where the pipe will come out, and also mark on the pipe where it hits the back of the branch to determine the correct length to cut the pipe.

6. Use your 1/2″ drill bit to drill straight through the branch. Drill slowly and carefully to avoid cracking the branch, and don’t go so far up the branch that the hole is almost the exact width of the branch; ideally, you want at least 1/4″ to 1/2″ clearance on the width. Use your pipe cutter to cut the pipe to length.

7a. Prepare your copper parts for assembly by removing stickers and cleaning them. Use scissors to gently strip 1″ of the lamp cord to expose the copper wires. If you examine your lamp cord, you will see that one of the cords has ridges and one side is completely smooth. You will also notice on your chandelier socket that one screw is brass/gold and the other is silver. Wrap the copper wire of the cord with ridges to the silver side, and wrap the copper wire of the smooth cord to the gold side (see second image below). Then slide the protective cardboard sleeve back over the socket.

7b. Now thread your 1/2″ to 3/4″ coupling onto the cord, with the larger side facing the socket, and slip it over the top of the socket. Slide your copper elbow onto the cord, as well, and fit the two copper pipes together. Then slide the last 3/4″ coupling over the cardboard sleeve so that the end of the copper coupling extends just a hair beyond the cardboard sleeve.

8. Slide your cord through the hole until the pipe reaches the branch, then wedge the pipe into the branch until it hits the back of the hole but does not extend out (see first image below). Then attach your small eye hooks so that the cord will match the curves of the branch. Thread the cord through the eye hooks.

9. Paint the top of your log with two to three even coats of high-gloss paint, allowing the paint to dry between coats. Tape up the cord during this process so it doesn’t get in the way.

10. Install the plug on the end of the lamp cord, using the same wiring technique from Step 7: Remove the rubber on the last 1″ to reveal copper wires and twist the copper around the screws, pairing the ridged cord with the silver screw and the smooth cord with the gold screw.

You’re done!

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  • This is really great, I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a while but the lack of branches is a bit of a blocker.

    On an additional note, who’s painting is that? I’m liking it and would love to get a link so I can take a look at some more!

  • So fun:) I have a branch “chandelier” hanging in my loft and as a total nature lover, I like being surrounded by plants and trees even when I am inside!

  • Thanks Sarah! If you live near a flower market or a garden shop, you might try asking them if they ever get branches. Or another route is to try Craigslist – a lot of people have branches and logs in their yards they would be dying to get rid of!

    The painting is actually one of mine; I did it a while back in school. Thank you so much for liking it! You may have just inspired me to make more. :)

  • OMG. I’m in love with this lamp. Who’d have thought of using branches for DIY furniture? Why not? It’s so beautiful, using the natural arc of the branch to give it another life :) Love it, love it, love it.

  • Great project!
    I also really like the artwork.. is it possible to let us know who it is by?

  • Kate you should definately get a brush back in your hand (and I don’t just say that out of personal interest! Painting is so freeing! ;) ) I’n the meantime I’ll just revisit your blog, I always find inspiration there!

    Also, florist of course! Sometimes the simplest things get forgotten. Oh well. :)

  • This is the perfect DIY project to tackle after Hurricane Sandy. There were so many fallen large tree branches in my neighbourhood. I love everything about this, but I would skip the opaque paint on the base and opt for a clear coat of something to let those tree rings shine.

  • Merci pour ce “partage”Kate. Chez moi, en Belgium , j’ai beaucoup de branches dans mon appartement. Transformées en…”bois flotté” (une partie). En fait, devant la “petite Grande Surface” où je fais mes “courses”, il y a 3 arbres sur le petit parking. Avec le vent, des branches tombent et, j’en reprends (au sol). Certaines ont droit à 1 bain avec eau + eau de javel, dans la baignoire ! Voila le “bois flotté” ! 5 branches sont dressées et font une petite “Séparation”. D’autres sont comme ‘ la tienne’. Il faut que je me remette au branchement électrique ! Ton Ampoule (seule, je l’adore !) sur cette branche est digne d’un “Grand Designer”! Félicitations. Sympathie. Vi

  • Showerhead, shmowerhead. I love this. I know, the whole point in leaving a comment is saying how cool you think the post is, but this one really has my name all over it.
    When I was little, my Mum had a HUGE branch bolted into the living room wall as a scratching post for the cats. 30 years later, I still have a thing for everything, well, branchy, and every little bit of tree I sneak into my home past the eagle eyes of my non- tree- hugging Mister is a nod to the lass that lugged home half a frigging sequoia (no, seriously, I kid you not! *cough*) to get the kitties something to dig their claws into.
    On second thought… I have 5 cats myself nowadays, maybe I ought to spray this one with (please- this actually IS the product name!) Piss Off Spray after assembly…

  • I need a new lamp, so I guess its out to the forest for me! Thanks for the tip :)


  • Just a heads up to folks making this: the coupling sizes that are given here are incorrect, they won’t fit together, so play around with them at the hardware store. I have to go back and get different sizes because of this. Not a huge deal, but inconvenient.

  • Another note here: I’m not seeing much in the way of insulation between the hot wires on the socket and the copper outside of some cardboard. This is dangerous. You really should use a 3-prong plug and run 3-conductor cord to the socket, connecting the copper to the ground. That way, should your wiring chafe and short out, rather than energizing the copper pipe and possibly injuring or killing somebody when they touch it. The ground fault will trip a GFI or circuit breaker. Make sure you’re outlet is wired correctly, too.

    Further, before inserting the socket into the paper tube, wrap the socket well in electrical tape so that no bare conductors are visible. Also make sure that there are no sharp edges on the copper to chafe the power cord. Round them off with sandpaper or a file.

  • Muy interesante, y me hace recordar cuando yo recogía en mi adolescencia esos ganchos que llegaban a la orilla de la playa, generalmente después de una tormenta….un trabajo lindo donde podemos estar muy en la moda , si hablamos de sustentabilidade, felicitaciones por publicar ese tipo de trabajo….

  • Just a note, if no one’s mentioned it yet; I love the idea, but I think I’ll change copper piping for ceramic or another material- with copper there’s a chance that you could become the ground and give yourself a good zap.

  • This looks like a fun weekend project. My in-laws have a rustic home and I think they would love this lamp. I should score some points with this one.

  • Hi
    I want to do some projects with branches. I wondered if you need to do anything to treat or prep them before you use them? or do you need to varnish them or something afterwards? I can’t find this info anywhere on the net. many thanks