Learn how to make a black iron pipe lamp to create unique industrial home decor.
Making a pipe lamp was one of my long time dreams. When our friend found a piece of driftwood on the beach, we thought it’s the perfect base for a table lamp project.
Creating new home decor with natural driftwood and iron pieces is soo beautiful.
Lamps made from pipes can be costly! Just google “industrial lamp ideas,” and you’ll find a million ideas.
BUT most of them are for sale and kind of hard to find a good DIY tutorial.
With these easy steps below, I encourage you to make one on your own. You might save money, and you’ll see that making a pipe lamp is FUN and EASY!
Answering your Pipe lamp DIY questions
Before we jump into the tutorial, let me answer some commonly asked questions.
If you have more questions, there is a comment section at the end of this post.
Q: Where to buy cheap industrial pipe?
I bought all my supplies in Home Depot because I wanted to assemble them right there to see if it is a good fit for my driftwood base. But you might not have a base yet or don’t need one.
Any home improvement store has the supplies you need for this lamp. Lowes, Basset, or your local home improvement stores. I find their pricing reasonable too. It didn’t hurt my wallet.
I love Amazon, but I saw iron pipes, elbows, and connectors on there in a pack of 10 or more. So that is not cheap, and you’ll be stuck with a lot of leftovers. On the other hand, you can use the extra pieces for making a pipe shelf.
Q: How do you clean a black iron pipe?
I used black iron pipes for this DIY project. They are industrial strength, strong and durable. BUT they come with a sheen of oil that helps prevent rust, which unfortunately you won’t like. If anybody touches it, you’ll end up with black fingertips all over your furniture.
- I tried to clean it with soap and warm water, and it somewhat worked.
- Then I found a bottle of Goof off in the storage, and it worked super!
- If you want it to be perfect, you might want to consider cleaning the pipes with Acetone. It removes grease and the adhesive labels without leaving any residue on the pipe’s surface. CONS of Acetone: It has a powerful odor, and if you decide to clean with it, make sure you use Acetone in a well-ventilated room or outdoors.
Q: Will black iron pipe rust indoors?
Iron pipes tend to rust in a humid climate. It is a good idea to protect them and prevent rusting.
Paste finishing wax is the best for industrial pipe DIY projects.
It is easy to use and will leave a matte protective finish on the pipes. After cleaning, wait until the pipes are dry and rub in the wax with a cloth. Then buff it off.
You can also use cutting board oil, just keep in mind it will leave an oily residue on the pipes.
Q: Do you need to ground a pipe lamp
You should use a polarized plug. Grounding the pipe would be a proper safety precaution too.
All the supplies we used for this project are isolated and/ or polarized, and we have experience working with lamps, fans, etc. In the steps below, I will show you how we wired our industrial pipe lamp using electrical tape and polarized plug and safe lightbulb socket.
BUT! Please, work with a licensed electrician or a certified professional to help with wiring your lamp if you are in doubt. We are not responsible for any action taken as a result of the information or advice on hungaricanjourney.com.
Pipe lamp parts I used for this DIY
Use your creativity and feel free to change the size, with and pipe parts for making your lamps. Here is the exact list of the products I used:
- Iron pipe light fixture Philips 40W. When you walk into Home Depot, you’ll find a million options. Depends on your preference, you can use white, off-white, or yellowish lights. Also, it depends on your design you can choose from different shapes. I love to use the vintage-looking Edison bulbs to create my DIY industrial light fixtures, and I chose a drop-shaped vintage bulb.
- Black iron pipe light socket. Since I went with the drop shape light, mimicking a faucet with the pipes, I decided to get a black light socket. It fits perfectly into the elbow.
- 8 FT wire with polarized plug
- Black steel threaded nipple 1/2″ x 12″. This is attached to the driftwood base.
- Black steel threaded nipple 1/2″ x 8″.
- Black steel threaded nipple 1/2″ x 3″.
- 2 X Black iron 90 Elbow 1/2″.
- Black iron Union 1/2″
- 2 X 1/2 inch pipe strap with 2 holes and screws
I also used the DeWalt combo drill kit to drill holes and screws into the lamp base.
Pipe lamp plans
I loved this steampunk or industrial lamp project because I could be creative and go with a free design.
I walked into Home Depot with my piece of driftwood and created my unique pipe lamp design by picking up different black iron pieces.
But if you don’t want to spend an hour assembling your pipe lamp in public and like my design here is my plan:
How to put a lamp together
If you are a visual learner you’ll love the quick video I made!
Check it out and come back for detailed instructions if you need them.
Step 1. Find and prepare your lamp base
Whatever material and shape you will use, you might need to clean, protect, and polish it before you start to build your pipe lamp.
We used driftwood for our lamp base, and it needs a little more preparation. You have to make sure it is sanitized and protected.
Our wood piece is big, and we decided to cut it in half and kept the other half for a future DIY project.
Cleaned the driftwood and waxed it with homemade beeswax wood polish.
Step 2. Clean and seal pipe lamps parts
If the iron pipe parts have the label, scrape them off with a wire brush first.
Pour a little Goof off to drop cloth and clean all metal parts.
Let them dry and seal with Paste finishing wax to prevent rusting.
Step 3. Preassemble your lamp parts
It’s a good idea to have a trial before wiring and make sure your pipes fit together as planned.
Following the plan above start putting the pipe lamp together:
- Thread the 1/2 x 12″ nipple into the union
- Thread the 1/2 x 8″ nipple into the other side of the union.
- Thread the other side of the 8″ nipple into the 1st elbow.
- Thread the 1/2 x 3″ nipple into the other side of the elbow.
- Attach the 2 nd elbow to the 3″ nipple.
- Put the light socket into the elbow.
Step 4. Attach the lamp base
- Put the 12″ nipple, straps on the lamp base.
- Mark the 4 holes of the straps.
- Take of straps and straps.
- Drill the holes.
- Place the nipple and the straps back.
- Drill the screws in the holes.
Step 5. Wiring a pipe lamp
You got to the tricky part. Thread or wire through a pipe lamp is relatively easy if the pipe’s diameter is wide enough. Since we are working with a 1/2 iron pipe, we have a lot of space for the wire.
Now your pipe lamp is dissembled. Work in sections.
- Pass the lamp wire through the 18″ nipple.
- Attach the union and pass the wire through.
- Attach the 12″ nipple and pass through the lamp wire, then do the same with the elbow, 3″ nipple, and 2nd elbow.
Step 6. Connect a lamp switch & socket
I wanted to make sure I do everything by the book, and my pipe lamp is safe to use. So I bought the easiest lamp bulb socket WITH a switch. It is safe, grounded, and simple to install.
- Unthread the socket apart. It has 3 pieces. The top cover, the middle section with the switch (where you will attach the wires), and the bottom cover.
- Pass the wire through the top of the socket.
- Loosen the 2 screws a little bit to give enough space for the end of the lamp wires.
- Connect the lamp wires to the socket. Wrap one end around the 1st screw and secure the screw back. Repeat with the second wire.
Step 7. Attach the socket to the lamp.
- Fit the socket into the socket base.
- Screw in the light bulb, tighten the strain relief fitting on the back of the lamp.
Switch your new industrial pipe lamp on and admire your perfect DIY!
Tips & Tricks/ Troubleshooting
1. Tighten elbow is not at the right angle. Since each thread on the elbows and nipples can be slightly different, you might end up with the wrong angle when assembling the pipe lamp.
How to solve: Wrap the threat of the nipple with 2 – 3 turns of Teflon tape and retighten. )
2. Wire turns when connecting elbows. You want to avoid twisting the wiring to ensure it will work safely, and no electrical accident will happen once the lamp is in use.
How to solve: Hold the end of the wire in your palm when you are tightening the elbow.
3. Can’t tighten the ends of the wire to the lamp bulb socket.
How to solve: You have to wrap the wires around the screws clockwise because you will tighten the screw clockwise.
4. The socket doesn’t fit perfectly into the elbow. The light bulb socket has no thread, and you might not be able to secure it to the elbow.
How to solve: Use Gorilla glue. It worked for me perfectly!
Recap of pipe lamp DIY project
I think this DIY lamp has a cool steampunk style, and It took me around 1 hour to put it together. (It will take less for you, but I was taking pictures and video 😉
Use your creative mind and mix and match different lengths of black iron pipes, elbows, unions, and tees. These pipes are cheap and can be purchased at your local home improvement stores or online.
If you are going for the ultimate industrial look, choose vintage Edison bulbs. (BTW I think I will switch mine for a bigger bulb. The design kind of calls for it.)
Have fun and show off your new industrial pipe lamp on your coffee table or desk soon!
Other DIY home decor projects you want to check out
Don’t’ forget to PIN it so that you can come back later for the step by step instructions.
Leave your questions or a picture of your new pipe lamp in the comments.
Ooh, I love this pipe lamp! Such a creative and unique design.
This is an awesome idea and looks super cool. Exactly my style and I love diy. Thanks for sharing
That piece of driftwood is beautiful. And what a creative way to use it in your decor. I am in awe when people have a vision and follow through and the work looks stunning. I am jealous. But, with your thorough instructions, I think I could do it!
Jenny, yes you can. Watch the video too, so you can pair it with the instructions. Your lamp is gonna be very pretty.
This is AWESOME! Extremely detailed too! I feel like I could totally make this – now if I wasn’t so lazy. 🙂
Josephine, you can definitely make one. Pause the video as many times as you need it and your lamp will turn out amazing.
This is such a cool project! I have zero skills for DIY projects, so I might ask my dad ? but I love how detailed you made this post.
Thanks, Valerie. I hope your dad will make one for you.
This looks amazing!! I’ve been searching for the “perfect” industrial lamp for my nightstand for almost two years and have yet to find anything I like within my budget. I’d never even thought to DIY it – this is such a perfect idea!
Becca, It took about 20 minutes to put it together and less than $30.