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.
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.