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Home Ec

Home Ec: How to Rewire a Table Lamp

by Annie Werbler

Harnessing the power of electrons is a physical science that still seems more like magic to the uninitiated. Perhaps this is why even the most intrepid of DIYers sometimes stop short of projects that involve tinkering with electrical. There can be unintended and dangerous consequences to doing so, which is why it’s best to let a licensed electrician handle hardwired fixtures (and all stuff hidden behind the wall). However, a plug-in table lamp can be repaired relatively easily by anyone with a few dollars to spare for materials, and the curiosity to peek behind the curtain. —Annie

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This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Home-Grown Inspiration section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Sponge!

Home Ec: How to Rewire a Table Lamp, on Design*Sponge
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Let there be light! Here's the reworked table lamp in all its glory. Click through the slideshow for step-by-step instructions.
Home Ec: How to Rewire a Table Lamp, on Design*Sponge
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You'll need:

-A new socket
-Cord with plug on one end
-Screwdriver
-Scissors
-Table lamp
Home Ec: How to Rewire a Table Lamp, on Design*Sponge
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Step 1: Remove the socket.

This is a "before" shot. The broken lamp cap made the entire configuration a bit wobbly, but once the socket itself became scorched, it was time for an overhaul. Shoot detailed photos of your lamp before taking it apart; otherwise you'll never remember where all its tiny washers and nuts belong! And always begin by unplugging the lamp from its wall outlet.
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Step 2: Remove the bottom covering.

Most table lamps are sealed at the bottom by a piece of felt cut to size. Upon peeling back this layer, I discovered that the entire interior face was coated in adhesive, and stuck to it were the remains of unlucky little flying things. Lovely. The good news is that the stickiness survived a soap-and-water wash and can be reused once the repair is complete.
Home Ec: How to Rewire a Table Lamp, on Design*Sponge
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Step 3: Dismantle.

There are many switch configurations, so yours may be a bit different. However, in this type of standard setup, turn the plastic knob counterclockwise until it releases, allowing the socket shell to be removed. With the threaded socket exposed, pull out a length of cord as shown.
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Step 4: Snip the tip.

Use your scissors to separate both the socket and plug from their respective ends. Don't let the cord fall into the body of the lamp! It may be tough to thread back through later.
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Step 5: Survey of parts.

If it looks like the new cord can be wired without too much trouble, go ahead and pull it out. Take a look at the lamp's innerworkings to see what can be salvaged. If the threaded rod and assorted spacers seem to be in good shape, by all means, reuse them! Take a photo to capture the objects' original sequence. If re-threading a wire seems like a tricky proposition, use some electrical tape to adhere the exposed end of the new cord to the bottom end of the old cord, then pull upwards gently until the refreshed parts are in place.
Home Ec: How to Rewire a Table Lamp, on Design*Sponge
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Step 6: Tie the knot.

String your various neck components above the lamp, including your new socket cap. Then tie an underwriter's knot by making a loop with one wire, a second loop around the straight end of the first wire, while passing the second wire's straight end into the original loop. If that sounds confusing, check out this animation. Pull tightly to form a small knot toward the end of the cord.
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Step 7: Screwed up.

Using a screwdriver, loosen the two screws sticking out of your threaded socket. Taking care not to unravel the underwriter's knot, locate the hot wire (the side with the smoother sheathing). Wrap all of its exposed filament around the brass screw, then tighten. Repeat this process with the neutral wire (the side with a more ribbed coating) and the silver screw.
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Step 8: Reassemble.

Pull the cord taut through the bottom of the lamp body, and watch the components stack into place. (I ultimately decided to leave off the previous harp saddle for a different type of shade structure.) Cover the threaded socket with its outer shell, which should either nestle or screw into the cap snugly. Finally, install your shade, bulb, and felt bottom, then plug the lamp into a wall outlet for a test. Voilà!

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Comments

  • I really like DIY projects like this one. They give people confidence. Why not try to fix your lamp? My wife’s dad found a vacuum that some one left on the curb for trash. He fixed it and it works great. I guess he came from a generation that loved to tinker. I want to tinker more. Thank you for sharing this DIY.

  • Yes! I always wondered and searched the web for this! I particularly need to know about vintage fixtures. On it! Thank you for this!

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