Vintage Industrial Scissor Lamp

I saw a picture a few months back of a cool lamp on a scissor extension and mounted to the wall, which could be used as a reading lamp either above the bed or in a study, so I thought I would make one. It was really easy, it took me about two days once all the stuff arrived. It’s all brass, and I didn’t really intend for it to be so steampunk, but because most of it is made from brass plumbing parts, that is kind of how it turned out.

The first thing I did was source the guts that I knew would not be at the hardware store. I used two main sources for the project:, and I got the shade and bulb at Schoolhouse and the antique-style cord, socket, shade adapter, and the ball finials from GrandBrass. Everything else was from Kleindorfer’s Hardware. I also got a brass-darkening solution from Rockler.

After everything from online arrived, the first thing I did was think about how to fit it together, then I went to Kleindorfers and got a bag of stuff I thought might fit. Some worked, some didn’t. I went back and exchanged the stuff that didn’t work for more stuff that would. Then I came home and fit it all together.

Basic idea of how it fit together.

The lamp basically consists of three parts: the lamp end, the scissor extension, and the wall mount. I put the lamp part and wall mount together just to have a look (At this point the shade hadn’t arrived from Portland) :

Then I made the scissor thing. I got a bunch of brass strips, cut them to length, rounded off the ends on the grinder, drilled them, sanded them with 400 grit to remove any burrs, then buffed them with 0000 steel wool.

Now at this point I darkened all the brass to give it a more antique feel. Then I assembled the scissor section. It’s super easy- over, under, over under, held together with rivets.

Then I wired the socket. Thanks to the assistance of my friend Hannah who is a proper electrician, I had no problems with this. I guess a disclaimer should be made that this or any operation involving electricity is dangerous and should only be done by professionals. While I agree with that statement in principle, this is an extremely easy thing to do. Black wire = hot wire, white wire = neutral. Connect black to brass and white to steel, end of story. Make sure the cardboard housing inside the socket stays there, it’s insulation.

I drilled a hole in one side of the pipe, fed the wire through that and into the socket. All wired up. I put in a normal bulb and plugged it in. It works.

At this point I was basically done except for the connector pieces to bring the three sections together.

That part was a pain in the ass. I don’t have anything hotter than butane (extremely low heat), so I can’t bend metal so easily. I found the best way to make these four connectors was just to bend about 2 1/2 inches of leftover brass strips at a right angle 3/4″ down till I had a square U shape where the bottom of the U equaled the circumference of the bars it was supposed to fit around, then simply take two sets of pliers in each hand and bend the thing into a ring, then adjust in the vice. Because this method scuffed up the brass, I used a polishing stone in the Dremel to smooth out the pieces. I rounded the edges of these pieces, so there were no sharp corners. Then I darkened them in the solution and put them on!

The shade and bulb were from Schoolhouse Electric.

At this point I thought it would be ready to go. It wasn’t. I measured poorly and the assembly would not close as the end pieces were to short and prevented the scissor from expanding in order to close. This presented me with a bit of a problem because a) I didn’t want to order a longer wall-mount piece from online and b) the threaded brass I used for the lamp end doesn’t come in 9 inch sections, 6 is as big as they get. So I opted to do two 4″ sections with a coupling in the middle. Not thrilled with that but I do like that it mimics the lamp side aesthetically.

~ by Josh on April 26, 2012.

7 Responses to “Vintage Industrial Scissor Lamp”

  1. Hi Josh

    Do you sell Saffron ink?

  2. Hi Josh, I’ve been looking for one of these lamps and came across your blog. The lamp is absolutely beautiful. Do you make these to sell??

    • Why did you choose brass? Is there something significant about it?

      • No, it was more readily available than other materials and more attractive than galvanized steel.

  3. Hi Josh, Absolutely gorgeous, would you considering selling the lamp? Thanks Alex

  4. […] store and buy as many incorrect things as you can. Show everyone your phone — so they can see the guy who blogged about it before you — which dies on you in the middle of explaining what you […]

  5. Hi Josh,
    I like your lamp very much and would like to build one myself. Do you mind to tell me some of the dimensions of the main components? Do you maybe have the part list from grandbrass? That would be very nice.

    Thank you

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