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Step by Step Lamp Repair

Updated on January 26, 2017

How To Lamp Repair and Lamp Building

Building or repairing a lamp for your home is not hard to do. The principles are easy and all you need is a screwdriver, wire clipper and some sense on putting a parts puzzle together. Measuring, a vision, and where to buy lamp parts helps the process move along faster. Keep three rules in mind before you start.

First rule is have the lamp unplugged.

Second, start from the bottom and work to the top of the lamp.

Third rule is have bolts, necks, and spindles securing each section of the lamp to a junction. For example, the first junction would be the cord secured to the lamp base.

I will be illustrating the process with a Forties Gonder lamp base bought several years ago on the internet. Last month I happened onto a shade that matches perfectly. The lamp shade sat on another lamp in the house and one day "a light lite" and I realized the lamp base in the cabinet would go with the shade.

After more than 8 years I can build my new table lamp 1940s style. It is going bedside and replacing a lamp that is hoohum.

Old Lamp to be Replaced



The new lamp I will build will match the bright green on three walls in the room, and the green duvet. It is also a perfect match for the other Gonder collectibles I have on the dresser.

Old Gonder Lampbase
Old Gonder Lampbase

Building An Antique Lamp

Lamp Repair


I am going to dismantle the cord and parts on this 1940s lamp.

The harp it had is too big for the shade.

I will reuse the socket because it is in good shape.

The cord is cracked and will be recycled for copper scrap.

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Tips for Lamp Rebuild

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Here I have snipped off the socket. I took note of the parts for the original build. We have a one inch neck, a nut for securing.The cord is removed and I have a hollow spindle and a felt from the inside of the baseThe cracked cord. I want a new cord with on/off switch for the base end of the lamp.
Here I have snipped off the socket. I took note of the parts for the original build. We have a one inch neck, a nut for securing.
Here I have snipped off the socket. I took note of the parts for the original build. We have a one inch neck, a nut for securing.
The cord is removed and I have a hollow spindle and a felt from the inside of the base
The cord is removed and I have a hollow spindle and a felt from the inside of the base
The cracked cord. I want a new cord with on/off switch for the base end of the lamp.
The cracked cord. I want a new cord with on/off switch for the base end of the lamp.

Take Lamp Measurements

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The lamp looks stubby and I have decided to add a 3 inch neck to bring the shade up higher.The harp section should be the same height as your shade. The old lamp build had a 12 inch high shade. I need a 10 inch harp.Measure for distance between the on/off switch and your socket. I will need a 20 inch length.
The lamp looks stubby and I have decided to add a 3 inch neck to bring the shade up higher.
The lamp looks stubby and I have decided to add a 3 inch neck to bring the shade up higher.
The harp section should be the same height as your shade. The old lamp build had a 12 inch high shade. I need a 10 inch harp.
The harp section should be the same height as your shade. The old lamp build had a 12 inch high shade. I need a 10 inch harp.
Measure for distance between the on/off switch and your socket. I will need a 20 inch length.
Measure for distance between the on/off switch and your socket. I will need a 20 inch length.
Orrco (Jandorf) 60123 Harp 12" Brass Pk/1
Orrco (Jandorf) 60123 Harp 12" Brass Pk/1

Harps come in several heights. My shade is 10 inches top to bottom. I bought a new 10 inches harp. The old one was 12 inches and too high for my new shade.

 

Trial and Error

I think this is all that I will need for my build.

I have a tip about the cord measurements. The first cord I bought had a leader length from the wire tips to the on/off switch that was to short for my tall lamp base. I did find a seller that had 24 inch leaders. I had to buy another cord.

Take note of the socket assembly. Bottom, the inside with the knob and the metal outer shell.

Let's put the table lamp together.

Start the Lamp Assembly

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I puzzled over the parts I had and decided this is what I will need at the top of the pottery. Spindle, nut, felt, slip on neck, harp and socket.1. Put your wire ends through the feeder hole at the base of the pottery. 2. Thread the spindle with  the felt on top of the nut.
I puzzled over the parts I had and decided this is what I will need at the top of the pottery. Spindle, nut, felt, slip on neck, harp and socket.
I puzzled over the parts I had and decided this is what I will need at the top of the pottery. Spindle, nut, felt, slip on neck, harp and socket.
1. Put your wire ends through the feeder hole at the base of the pottery. 2. Thread the spindle with  the felt on top of the nut.
1. Put your wire ends through the feeder hole at the base of the pottery. 2. Thread the spindle with the felt on top of the nut.

Consider Some Tips


Since my base is high I twist tied a BBQ skewer onto the wire end to aid in threading the spindle through the hole on top of the base. A straightened coat hanger probably would have worked better.

My spindle was 4 inches because the brass neck was three inches, leaving even screw threads on each end for the tightening of the components.

Here is the spindle threaded through. The felt is inside resting against the pottery hole and the nut is in place as an anchor for tightening of the the assembly.

Stack the Parts



Putting the neck over the spindle.

Sorry, I did not pull the spindle out enough to show the threads.





Next thread the harp and last is the bottom of the socket.

I twisted and put a nut on the end of my cord. I had already lost it once and had to start over.

Gonder Pottery on Ebay



Here I did the tightening of the socket. It should be very tight and the whole assembly should not have any wiggle room.

The bottom of the socket screws onto the top of the 4 inch spindle.



A UL underwriter's knot is needed to prevent pulling on the wire screwdowns.



The wire end should fit under the screw like an inverted J.

Screw the J shaped wire ends securely under the screws of the next socket component.


Lay the knot flat as possible and stand the inside unit into the base.

Slip the outer part of the socket over it lining up the area for the switch knob.

Give the outside case a nudge down and it will snap into the bottom of the socket, securing everything into place.

You are ready to test a light bulb.

Test Okay.



This arrangement at the top of your harp can be dipped back and forth for leveling the shade.

You can also use a pliers for pinching the small platforms on each side to level the opposite sides.

Use gentle tweaks.

Completed Gonder Lamp

Gonder Lamp
Gonder Lamp

The finished lamp on a bedroom night stand.

Gonder Pottery Grouping image: Sherry Venegas
Gonder Pottery Grouping image: Sherry Venegas

The Matching Gonder Pottery



The color of this old pottery sometimes looks green and at other times looks brown-mustard.

There are no chips or crazing and I love the pieces I have collected. My goal in the room was to convey a Forties style look.

Information about the Gonder company here.

I have built two lamps. I am not a professional, but I like creating my own new things. A lamp is one of those things.

© 2014 Sherry Venegas

Have questions or comments about building a lamp?

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  • paperfacets profile image
    Author

    Sherry Venegas 2 years ago from La Verne, CA

    If you have any questions, let me know.

  • Au fait profile image

    C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

    I think being able to repair or build a lamp is so cool. Years ago when I was still in elementary school I remember my sister-in-law repairing one of our floor lamps, fixing or replacing the switch. She talked about how easy it was to build a lamp, too. I've seen some really interesting hand made lamps. I really appreciate this article and I'm going to have to study it a little when I have more time. Wish you were my neighbor so I could get some direct instruction . . .

  • Gypzeerose profile image

    Rose Jones 3 years ago

    You go girl. Pinned to my home repair board.

  • Merrci profile image

    Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

    Great how-to! I don't need it just now, but sure could have used it in the past!

  • ecogranny profile image

    Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

    Lovely! The shade looks beautiful with the base. Thank you for sharing these tips.

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