Interested in making a DIY lamp? This totally unique, vintage-inspired cigar lamp makes an extraordinary gift and adds sultry ambiance to any space.
This gorgeous cigar box lamp looks like a million bucks — but it won’t cost you nearly that much! If you’ve got a basic arsenal of tools, this could be a great DIY project for you to try your hand at.
Personally, I love the look of old cigar boxes. (I don’t smoke cigars, but I periodically go to cigar shops to buy the old boxes for a variety of fun projects.) They can be converted into lovely keepsake boxes, and more unexpected things — like guitars and handbags. Now they have yet another use — DIY lamp base.
This comprehensive DIY lamp project comes via Brady Ridenour, owner/operator of HelioDeisgns. If you love the look of this project but aren’t confident you can make it yourself, check out Ridenour’s unique lighting designs on his Etsy shop.
SEE ALSO: How to Make a Mason Jar Oil Lamp
How to Make a Cigar Box Lamp
- Cigar box
- Edison Style Bulb (5” Globe bulb pictured)
- Wood Glue
- Liquid Electrical Tape
- Two Part Epoxy
- Mixing Tool For Epoxy
- One Six Foot Extension Cord
- Electrical Tape
- One black Keyless Socket
- One Toggle Switch
- One Wire Crimp
- Two Six Inch Segments of 16 Gauge Lamp Wire
- Needle Nose Plyers
- Wire Strippers
- #2 Phillips Head Screwdriver
- 1 ¼ Spade Drill Bit
- 7/16 Drill Bit
- 5/16 Drill Bit
- ½ Chisel
- 4 Vinyl Bumpers (Optional)
Take your cigar box and use your caliper tool to find the dead center of the top of the box.
Once you have found the center point, take your punch and make a dimple to mark where your hole will go. This will allow you to drill accurately.
After you have marked dead center, take your 1 ¼ spade bit and drill the hole for the socket. Once you drill your hole, you want to take your socket and fit it in. It should fit rather snug. You will probably have to sand the hole and fine tune it to fit properly.
Note: It’s important to do a couple practice runs with the spade bit on some scrap wood so you can get the feel of how the bit and drill react. You only get one shot with the box and it’s going to be the most visible part — so you want to get it right!
Once you fit the socket, you want to mark and fit where the toggle switch will go.
I find it easiest to use the dove tales on the box to measure where the switch will go. Once you have found the spot, use the punch to mark the drilling point like you did in step one.
Take your 7/16 drill bit and drill the hole for the toggle switch.
Depending on what switch you bought, you may need to chisel out the bottom to allow the threads to show through the top.
Now you are going to want to take your caliper tool to find dead center of bottom of the back side of the cigar box.
Once you find the center, take your punch and lightly mark dead center.
Then take your 5/16 drill bit and drill the hole for the power cord.
Now that you have all your holes drilled, you want to start wiring everything up. Take your two six-inch wires and strip about ¼ inch off both ends.
Take your hot wire (If you have a black and a white wire, use the black one; If they are both the same color, use the one without any markings on it.) Wire your hot wire to the brass screw.
Then affix the other wire to the silver screw.
Take your liquid electrical tape and go over each screw and wire to ensure a clean installation.
After the liquid electrical tape has dried, take the other end of the hot wire and attach it to the toggle switch.
Note: The 6-inch cold wire is optional with smaller boxes, as you can attach the cold cord wire to the socket. If it is a bigger box, it will free up some length for the cord.
SEE ALSO: Turning a Table Lamp into a Floor Lamp
Now take your six-foot extension cord and cut the female end off with a pair of snips.
Then separate the two wires about six-eight inches down.
Slide the cord in from the hole in the back. Then take the cord and tie a knot to make sure it can be pulled back out of the box. This will ensure that nothing gets pulled loose inside the lamp once it is finished. Then strip about ¼ inch off of each end of the cord.
Next, find the hot wire (the wire without any markings on it), and secure it to the other side of the toggle switch.
Then take your electrical tape and tape off the two connection points (as shown).
Take your crimp and attach the cold wire (the one with markings) that is coming out of the socket to the cold wire the extension cord. Once you have crimped them together, give them a gentle tug to make sure it is a clean crimp. If you have self-sealing ones (pictured), you want to go ahead and seal it up with a lighter. If you have the non-sealing crimps, you can use electrical tape to get a similar result. I like to do this just to take that extra step to make sure everything stays in its place.
Now that you have everything wired up correctly, it’s time to put everything together. The first step is to fit the toggle switch into the hole you drilled in step two. Adjust the two bolts on the switch so that it fits nice and flush with top of the switch. That will produce a clean meaningful look when it’s all said and done. Once you have made your adjustments, you want to tighten it down snug. (Be sure not to over tighten!)
Now that you have your switch in place and looking great, insert the socket into the center hole you drilled in step one from the bottom up. Push the socket up so that you have about an inch sticking up out of the top of the box.
Now take your epoxy and mix about the size of a nickel worth on a clean disposable surface with your mixing tool. I’m using a cheap triangle file. Mix the epoxy as noted on the directions.
Once you have mixed the epoxy, take small amounts and dab it around the socket (about ¼ inch below the top of socket.)
Then push the socket down flush and remove any excess epoxy that may have flowed over when pushing the socket into place. Be sure to carefully wipe the epoxy away, as it will show on the wood if it’s smeared on it.
Next take your wood glue and apply a small amount into the groves that the lid slides into. Then slide the lid on. Carefully wipe any excess wood glue away with a damp rag.
Let it dry.
Note: I also like to put rubber feet on the bottom corners to give it a stable base to sit on
Now that everything is together and dry, it’s time to screw in your bulb and enjoy!
Are you a visual learner? Check out this DIY cigar box lamp video tutorial:
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