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How-to Lamp Repair or Rebuild

Updated on February 20, 2017
Discount Store Lamp
Discount Store Lamp

Lamp Repair and Rewire

This how-to on lamp repair is going to lead you through lighting restoration step-by-step with pictures and written directions. We will take a cheap new lamp apart for the shade and save a few parts and reuse them on an old art deco ceramic base.

The table lamp below has had a long search for the perfect lampshade. Finally, I spotted a tall red shade on a discount table lamp at a Ross Store. It was under $20.00. Brought the lamp home and decided it was okay to get a forties art deco look out of it.

This page will show you how two lamps were taken apart and one lamp restored into an art deco table lamp. Included are resources for lamp replacement parts and plenty of pictures to illustrate the procedure.

Use this lighting repair tutorial to replace a lamp cord of any vintage fixture you may have.

Gonder Lamp Base
Gonder Lamp Base

Why is This Table Lamp Worth Repair?

The pottery is a forties era Gonder ceramic lamp base purchased through eBay, the place where I have found all my Gonder pottery. There are distinct molds and color glazes that make Gonder recognizable. The pottery was produced between 1941-1957 and has the Gonder name on the bottom. The glaze Lawton Gonder developed is noted for noncrazing and resistance to chipping. Take a vase with layers of grime to hot water and soap and the piece will clean to a new shiny surface, smooth and bright.

I want to make this lamp base whole and working again, and it will look perfect glowing in the front window.

Took the Old Lamp Apart First

lamp spindle neck
lamp spindle neck

The picture in the intro is how the old lamp looked when I received it. A layer of grime is visible. A 3" long bolt with the cord running through it was inside the lamp. It was connected to the assembly with a nut that I eventually unscrewed with fingers and a long nose pliers. I clipped the cord with dikes and the ceramic base was free.

Above are the parts on the top of the base. I will toss these old lamp parts and cord.

Gonder Lamp Base
Gonder Lamp Base

Cleaned the Ceramic Base

Next I cleaned the ceramic base in very warm Ivory Dish Soap. I used a mild scrubber to get the grime off and it looked like new. Very shiny.

There is a hole for the cord in back and a hole on top. Open on the bottom.

Took Apart the New Lamp

The new lamp I could not get apart. All the sections were too tight for me to loosen. The shade was assembled onto the pillar below the socket.

I asked this home's handyman to try getting it apart. He got it done with a wrench and considerable tugging.

One lesson I learned at this point; a lamp is put together with segments, and a nut is used to stabilize each section.

This is the photo to gauge our vintage art deco lamp before and after restoration.

New lamp parts
New lamp parts

Using Lamp Parts I Have

These are the parts from the new lamp. I will reuse the two socket parts on the left. I will use the new cord for the lamp rewiring.

Rebuilding the Pillar Assembly

The original hollow pipe and nut in the old ceramic base will be reused for inside the pottery. After some calculating I decided I needed a four inch pipe threaded at both ends to get the shade to sit at the correct height.

Trips to the local home improvements and the hardware store did not offer what I needed. They were sadly lacking in serious parts for lamp repair. I realized that lamp repair is specialized and so the Internet is the place to go to order lamp parts.

eBay is where I went looking for lamp parts.

Locating the Lamp Parts I Needed

The store I went to on eBay was seller lamppartsguy. The store had what I needed and shipping costs are reasonable and arrived in two days. They have a wide range of brass lamp parts.

I decided to get a new spindle. It is just like the old one. I also bought the four inch bolt with threads on both ends. Explore his store for what you may need.

How-to Lamp Repair

Let's get started with assembly.


Place the end of new cord with the wires to be attached to the socket, through the back hole of the lamp base.

The plug for the outlet is at the opposite end.

New cord is placed through the hollow threaded pipe with a nut on the bottom. I also put a circle of felt on top of the nut to protect the pottery.

Antique Lamp Repair
Antique Lamp Repair
Here is the result of our first two steps.
Here is the result of our first two steps.

Threading a New Cord into Lamp Base


Here the top end of the cord is placed through the top hole.

The felt is next to the hole but can not be seen.

The pipe follows. It will slip through the hole at the top of the lamp. The piece of felt will be between the nut and the ceramic. The nut is an anchor.

Repair on the art deco table lamp, so far.

Photo above shows the steps I talked about above. I started at the back hole of the base.

Lamp Repair
Lamp Repair
The elements on the base so far
The elements on the base so far

Adding Lamp Spindle and Anchor


Continue treading the cord.

First another felt circle to fit over the pipe to protect the ceramic.

Next the new brass spindle is threaded on cord and slipped over the reused pipe.

A nut-like fitting is next. It screws into the pipe. (We happened to have this part.)

The fancy nut has threads and will tighten to hold the reused pipe up.

Assembling a Lamp
Assembling a Lamp

Pillar and Shade Assembled


Now the new 4" hollow pipe is slipped onto the cord.

This pipe got special attention. The height of the shade will depend on the length of this pipe. I measured and concluded that I need 4 inches to place the shade just above the spindle.

The bottom will screw into the fancy nut. This section is tighten snugly to stabilize the pillar to the base.

Now, screw on a nut to rest the shade on. Place the shade on the nut.

Reuse lamp socket
Reuse lamp socket

Screw on Socket Units


Shade goes on, then the bottom part of the socket fitting; the bowl shaped unit at right.

The socket bowl is screwed tight so the shade is stable.

The Wiring


Almost done.

The wire ends of the electrical cord shown here at right will connect to the next socket piece.

At this point tie the two ends in a simple overhand knot. It is called an underwriter's knot.

lamp socket
lamp socket

The wire ends go under the loosened screws.

Turn tight the screws.

The wires should be tightly secured under the screws.

Tug gently on the cord at the bottom of the lamp base to place this section into the bowl piece.

(Please note that I do not have the underwriter's knot. Oops, I forgot it, but it is essential for the cord to stay in place under the screws. UL inspection requires it.)

Screw on the third tube part of the socket which has the Caution sticker on it. The lamp is ready for a new bulb.

Last, I put four felt circles on the bottom edges of the ceramic base.

The lamp is complete. The view on the inside. See the pictures of the completed retro lamp below.

If you may have questions on how to repair a lamp feel free to ask in the comment section.

picture of the finished lamp assembly
picture of the finished lamp assembly

New Art Deco Lamp

In the decade of the forties the style was a short base with tall shades. There was a surge of lamp buying in the early forties and the Gonder company took advantage of this and developed a line of lamps under the Elgee Pottery Co. name.

The surge of lamp sales may have been caused by the routine wartime black outs that required heavy curtains. By the end of the 30's electrifying the rural areas was complete, and certainly after the war buying of household items increased.

Photos of the New Art Deco Lamp

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Finished Gonder LampGonder Lamp
Finished Gonder Lamp
Finished Gonder Lamp
Gonder Lamp
Gonder Lamp

I certainly had a good time restoring the Gonder lamp. I hope this tutorial on DIY lamp repair will be of some help to you.

© 2010 Sherry Venegas


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