We are going to take you through the process of making your own decorative floor lamp. New skills introduced in this project include making plug welds and honing your metal bending skills. All of the items you will need to complete this lamp can be readily found at your local home improvement store. Estimate this project to take about 10 hours.
Download Plans of Lamp (PDF)
Metal grinder, approximately 5"
Reciprocating saw or chop saw
Round metal file
Angle finder and protractor
2 squares - one large standard square and one small carpenter's square
2 C-clamps - for clamping project pieces to the welding table and drill press
Pattern from Web site
Marker, crayon or chalk
Lincoln Electric Compact Wire Feed or Welder
Lincoln SuperArc® L-56™ .025" solid wire
Gas regulator and hose
Shielding gas with a 75% argon, 25% carbon dioxide mixture
2 pieces - 4' lengths of 3/8" steel rod
2 pieces - 1" by 1/8" flat stock steel
1 piece - 4' length of 1/2" steel rod
1. Check your Materials
Lay out the materials in your work area and check to be sure you have everything required to complete the project, including plans and templates attached to this article. Don't forget your safety equipment and fire extinguisher.
2. Cut 3/8" Rods
Measure to find the center of each of the 4' lengths of 3/8" rod. Cut the rods in half with your reciprocating saw. You will only be using three of the four pieces for the legs of the lamp.
3. Grind Ends of Cut Rods
To make the rods you cut in Step 2 safer to handle, grind the ends, removing all sharp edges.
4. Mark Reference Lines on Rods
Place each rod, one at a time, flat on your workbench. Either clamp the rod to the bench, or make sure you hold the rod very still. Then, lay your marker, crayon or chalk flat on the table, and run it along the length of the rod, keeping the length of the marker flat on the table. Using this technique, you can make a straight line along the entire length of the rod . This line will act as reference to avoid spiraling when you are bending the rod.
5. Bending the Legs
Place one of the pieces of rod you have marked with a reference line in the bench bender with the line facing up. Bend the rod until you think you are close to the bend on the template. Lay the rod on the template to see how much farther you need to bend it, and mark reference points where the rod needs to be bent more. Bend until the rod closely matches the pattern. Repeat for each of the three legs. The bending process takes some finesse. Just make sure you keep the marker line on the rod facing up to avoid spiraling.
6. Cut Off the Excess from the Top End of Each Leg.
7. Weld the First Leg to the 1/2" Rod
Lay the 1/2" rod and one of the legs flush against each other on your welding table. The top of the leg and the 1/2" rod should overlap about 2". Weld one side of the leg only. Remember to attach your work clamp.
8. Weld the Next Leg at 120-degrees from the First
Lay the second leg on the welding table. Using your angle finder set at 120-degrees, place a c-clamp on the 1/2" lamp post so that the first leg is elevated at 120-degrees from the leg you are about to weld on. View from the absolute bottom of the 1/2" rod to ensure angle is as close to accurate as possible. Once it is secured, weld the second leg.
9. Attaching the Final Leg
Lay the remaining leg flat on the welding table. Position the lamp so one leg is hanging off the edge of the table. Again, look at your angle finder from the very bottom of the post to ensure the angle is correct and secure the lamp to the table with c-clamp so the leg facing upward is 120-degrees from the leg to be welded on. Weld the leg onto the lamp.
10. Finish Welding the Legs
Weld the unwelded side of each leg.
11. Check Lamp to Ensure it is Vertical
Place the level flush against the lamp's main post and check to make sure it is plumb. Now is the time to pull and bend the legs to make the lamp stands vertical if it does not already.
12. Grind the Welds at the Lamp's Base
Grind the welds around the legs to make the lamp more attractive. You are now done with the lamp's base.
13. Making the Scrollwork for the Top of the Lamp
Before you begin bending the flat stock steel, you must first affix a support about 12" away from the bench bender on the feeding side. This support should be identical in height to the top of the baseplate on the bench bender. Using this support will ensure you are bending straight and will help you avoid spiraling. After the support is in place, use the biggest cylinder on the bench bender and bend the flat stock steel approximately every 1/2" using the stopper as a gauge. Compare to the template from the Web site. Mark the flat stock steel where it needs to be bent further and bend until it is close to matching the template. It does not have to perfectly match.
14. Cut off Excess Length of Flat Stock Steel
To complete the tight bend at the end of the scrollwork, the excess steel needs to be removed. However, be careful not to cut it too short.
15. Complete the Bend
16. Cut off Excess Steel
Mark the scrollwork based on the template, to remove the extra length of steel.
17. Bend Smaller Piece of Scrollwork
Using the method outlined in steps 13 through 16, bend the smaller piece of scrollwork to match the template.
18. Weld the Inner Piece of Scrollwork to the Outer Piece
Set the smaller scrollwork piece inside the larger piece. Set it back slightly, so the ends are not flush, to ensure a good weld. Use a small piece of scrap to elevate the inner piece while welding. Angle iron or scrap steel can be used to keep the entire piece from rocking.
19. Grind the Weld in the Scrollwork
For a better appearance and to make for safer handling, grind the weld smooth. Grind all ends of the scrollwork to remove sharp edges.
20. Bend the Top Piece of Scrollwork
Cut remaining piece of flat stock to length and bend the end loop to resemble the template.
21. Mark Placement for Holes to be Drilled
Place a square across the flat piece of scrollwork. Line up the ruler with the edge of the square and also the edge of the curved inner piece of scrollwork. This is the line where the post of the lamp will go. The inner curves of the scrollwork will actually hold the lamp in position, so it is important that the lamp post be in contact at this point. Also mark the top piece of scrollwork where it comes into contact with the curved portion. At these points, holes will be drilled to perform plug welds. All of the holes will be drilled to a 3/8" hole size, EXCEPT the one in the photo to the left with an 'X'. The hole marked 'X' needs to be just over 1/2" in diameter to accommodate the main post of the lamp.
The holes from left to right are designated for:
Lamp post - 1/2"
22. Drill Holes in Top Piece of Scrollwork
Clamp the top, mostly straight piece of scrollwork to the drill press (SAFETY NOTE: IMPORTANT - if you do not clamp the metal piece to the drill press, you risk serious injury as it will spin around). Drill all holes with 3/8" bit, EXCEPT the hole marked 'X' in photo above in step 22. Drill this hole with a 1/2" bit and run the round file in it to make it slightly larger to accommodate the 1/2" rod. File all burrs and make a smooth radius where the electrical cord will pass through the scrollwork.
23. Drill Hole in Bottom Piece of Scrollwork
Place a wood block on the drill press to support the piece of scrollwork. Use the level as shown in the photo to the left to ensure the piece is level. This is important to ensure the hole is drilled straight through the metal to fit the 1/2" lamp post. Clamp the piece to the drill press. Drill the hole.
24. Place Scrollwork over Lamp's Main Post
Slide the curvy piece of scrollwork over the main post of the lamp. By pulling on the smaller curve in the scrollwork, it allows the whole fixture to move up and down. Next, place the top piece of scrollwork in position.
25. Check to be sure the Scrollwork is Perpendicular
Use a square to ensure the scrollwork is at a 90-degree angle from the lamp post. If it is not, bend the bottom piece of scrollwork accordingly to make it perpendicular.
26. Plug Weld Two Pieces of Scrollwork Together
Plug weld through the holes you drilled in the top piece of scrollwork in Step 22. When plug welding, it is important to start the weld in the center of the hole and spiral the weld out toward the edge of the hole. Otherwise, the heat will disperse and you won't get a solid weld. Photo below in step 27 is the finished plug weld.
27. Grind Plug Welds Flat
For aesthetic value, grind the plug welds flat so you won't see them after painting.
Installing Electric Cord and Light Socket
Included below are general instructions for wiring the lamp. Wire the lamp in accordance with the National Electrical Code and local codes and have a qualified person check your work.
Required Materials - most can be found in the lighting section of your hardware store:
6" long 1/8" IP Threaded Steel Nipple - cut to 5-3/4" length
Two 1/8" IP locknuts to match Threaded Steel Nipple
10' of 18 / 2 lamp wire
4" long Plastic 1/1-4" diameter Standard Base Socket Cover
2-Wire Household 115 volt wall plug
Lamp Socket Kit with push-through on/off switch
Bobesche Decorative lamp cup (can be ordered on-line at www.grandbrass.com)
Appropriate lamp shade
Each of the component packages typically have instructions regarding wiring and assembly on the back. Follow those instructions carefully to make all of your required electrical connections.
28. Thread the Wire
Run the wire up through the 3/8" hole closest to the lamp's main post. Run across the length of the upper scroll work, down through the first of the 3/8" holes at the end, through the first locknut and back up through the last hole. Thread the wire through the bobesche, the second locknut and then through the threaded 1/8" IP Threaded Steel Nipple and Plastic 1/1-4" diameter Standard Base Socket Cover. Finally, be sure to thread the wires through the Lamp Socket Cap before attempting to move to the next step. Tighten all locknuts. Consult drawing for details.
29. Wire the Socket
Follow manufacturers' instructions on socket packaging.
30. Snap the Socket
Following socket wiring, snap the wired Lamp Socket Assembly into the Lamp Socket Cap.
31. Add the Lampshade of your Choice
It is important to use enough ventilation to keep the fumes and gases from your breathing zone. For occasional welding in a large room with good cross-ventilation, natural ventilation may be adequate if you keep your head out of the welding fumes. However, be aware that strong drafts directed at the welding arc may blow away the shielding gas and affect the quality of your weld. In planning your workshop ventilation, it is preferable to use ventilation that pulls fume from the work area rather than blows necessary shielding gas away.
Remember, elecrtric shock can kill. Wear dry, hole-free leather gloves when you weld. Never touch the electrode or work with bare hands when the welder is on. Be sure you are properly insulated from live electrical parts, such as the electrode and the welding table when the work clamp is attached. Be sure you and your work area stay dry; never weld when you or your clothing is wet. Be sure your welding equipment is turned off when not in use. Note that Lincoln wire feed / welders have a relatively low open circuit voltage and include an internal contactor that keeps the welding electrode electrically 'cold' until the gun trigger is pressed. These important safety features reduces your risk of electric shock during any welding project.
It is essential that your eyes are protected from the welding arc. Infrared radiation has been known to cause retinal burning. Even brief unprotected exposure can cause eye burn known as welder's flash. Normally, welder's flash is temporary, but it can cause extreme discomfort. Prolonged exposure can lead to permanent injury.
Workspace - Protection from Sparks
Before you get started on any welding project, it is important that you make sure your work area is free of trash, sawdust, paint, aerosol cans and any other flammable materials. A minimum five-foot radius around the arc, free of flammable liquids or other materials, is recommended. Extra care should be taken in workshops that are primarily used for woodworking as sawdust can collect inside machines and in other hard to clean spaces. If a spark finds its way into one of these sawdust crannies, the results could be disastrous. If your shop area is too small to allow for a safe radius, please use an alternate area like a garage or driveway.
Cylinders can explode if damaged. Always keep your shielding gas cylinder upright and secured. Never allow the welding electrode to touch the cylinder.
It is also imperative to make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment and that you're wearing welding friendly clothes. You should wear:
Welding gloves - dry and in good condition
Safety glasses with side shields
Protective welding shield with a dark lens shade appropriate for the type of welding you do
Head protection - like a fire retardant cotton or leather cap
Long-sleeve cotton shirt
Long cotton pants
Leather work boots
A fire extinguisher should also be on hand during any welding. Also, make certain no children are in the area when you are welding. They may watch the arc and can experience retinal damage from its intense light. There is also a risk of a child getting burned by welding spatter.
Finally, see the welder's instruction manual for additional safety information.
*This project has been published to show how individuals used their ingenuity for their own needs, convenience and enjoyment. Only limited details are available and the projects have NOT been engineered by the Lincoln Electric Company. Therefore, when you use the ideas for projects of your own, you must develop your own details and plans and the safety and performance of your work is your responsibility.