Make your own light fixtures

bj_inatlantaMarch 27, 2007

We're building a house and seriously low on cash for things that can be changed out later. I'm thinking that if your can create a lamp from anything, you can create overhead lights too. Esp. for the more expensive ones--dining room chandelier and kitchen pendants.

Does anybody have experience with that, know where to get the wiring and ceiling plates, etc?

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You need to be careful when making fixtures. If you are building a house, the fixtures may not pass electrical code. We have advised individuals the following:

1. Where you need to have a light, go to Home Depot, Lowe's or Habitat for Humanity and buy a new cheap fixture to hang there for the time being. It will be cheaper than time and parts to make a chandelier. Use that until you are ready to purchase what you really want.

2. Where you want to put a light but don't need to have it right away (i.e., ceiling fan, bedroom light, etc.) just have the electrician wire for the fixture and put a cap on it. If you need to have a light there to pass code, get a keyless or pull chain porcelain fixture with a bare bulb.

3. If you should have cathedral ceilings and need to hang a foyer light from 12' or more, you should look into a ceiling lift. Although expensive, you can have this put in and then put your own fixture up. The lift allows you to lower and raise a ceiling fixture so you won't need to have an electrician back with an extremely tall ladder or lift. You can lower the lift and wire the fixture yourself.

If you are intent on making your own fixture, you can get wiring and ceiling plates probably by Googling it or going on eBay, but I would really seriously think about doing really cheap fixtures with UL listing before putting the time into making my own fixture and then not have it pass inspection.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 7:14AM
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Thanks for all the info., ilitem. I found Habitat for Humanity's ReStore website and they have a storefront here, so we can shop there. But I'm also still trying to find UL-listed parts as a kit for ceiling-mounted fixtures; I know they sell them for lamps and surely they pass code. Then we could add our own non-electrical parts, probably using metals with open areas for ventilation so it's not a fire hazard.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 9:43AM
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If you go to a lamp supplier's website (American DeRosa, B&P Lamp Parts) you will probably see sockets that are rated for a certain wattage. Some of these factories also sell stickers for lighting showrooms to use that state what wattage can be used. However, they don't state that the fixture, when completed will be UL.

I would call one of their customer service numbers and ask how this works.

Parts for chandeliers can be purchased from these factories and you can make whatever you want. It is not a problem as long as they will accept you as a client. If they won't (because you are not a retailer), you can find out a distributor in your area. I would think that the distributor that stocks parts would be able to answer your questions.

Lamps and lighting fixtures (although both have to be UL approved for factories to sell) are really two different things. Remember that when you get your electrical inspection they aren't concerned with what you are going to plug into your outlets, only what is directly wired to the house.

With all of this said, it seems as though you are intent on making your own lighting fixtures. Therefore, you should go to a lighting showroom that repairs fixtures and find out the correct wiring and sockets that you will need. If they are any good, you can bring a design of what you are trying to do and they can assist you with selecting the right items.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 7:57AM
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Since we're building, I'm keeping a notebook with clippings from magazines that have ideas or products I like. I clipped an article from a recent issue of House Beautiful that gives directions on how to create a personalized pendant lamp using a purchased shade and hardware.
The lamp shown was made from hardware from Home Depot and Grand Brass Lamp Parts website (
I regret I cut off the part of the page that tells what issue it is, but it is under their regular "Weekend Shopper" column and should be pretty easy to find at a library that carries periodicals.
It's a 2-page article that includes a diagram of the parts you need and how they should be assembled to construct a pendant lamp.
I only began subscribing to the magazine late last fall, so I'm sure the article is a fairly recent one. I haven't tried, but you might be able to go to the House Beautiful website and search out the article online.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 3:18PM
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Great idea. I wouldn't worry about UL rating of the fixture so long as the essential components (sockets) are rated.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 8:45PM
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Thanks, all. And amck, thanks for the reference. Last night HGTV showed them making a chandelier but with no instructions. I know architects design fixtures all the time. I'll make sure it's safe; don't want a fire in the new house.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 9:00AM
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Not to wreck your DIY mojo, but lighting can be had pretty cheap from IKEA, if you live near one - not sure how much of it is mail-orderable. Lots of interchangeable pendants and shades.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 7:26PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Just last week, I happened upon a very pretty dining room chandelier at the Goodwill, for a friends rental house. It was all intact, and it was in excellent condition.

It was priced at $15, but with the Wed. senior 30% off, (age 55 in our area) it was only $10.50 b4 tax.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 1:48PM
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