Monthly Archives: March 2013

I Love Lamp.


I am officially in mourning.

I have been dutifully waiting for my favorite show “Picker Sisters” to make its comeback… and waiting… and waiting…  It’s been so long that Chris has informed me that it’s most likely cancelled and we should probably delete it from our DVR’s list of shows to record.  Noooooooooooo.

So, I’d like to dedicate this post to the untimely demise of “Picker Sisters”- your time with us was so short, but oh so sweet.  We’ll never forget you…

For those of you who weren’t immediately addicted to the show… or even aware… it was a show where two women traveled the country finding antique items (or, as most people would see it, junk) to transform into functional pieces of home decor.  My favorite transformations were when they turned a car’s fender into an upholstered chair and the irrigation pipe they turned into a light.  See below for pics.

PickerSisterEpisodeP10   Picker-Sisters-vintage-antiques

I decided to channel my fellow picker sisters and find something of my own to turn from junk to treasure.  Hm, but what to choose…

Well, we needed another lamp in the living room and I knew creating a lamp was going to be easier than upholstering a chair so it was settled.  Plus, it helped that I’ve been lusting after the surveyor’s tripod floor lamp at Restoration Hardware.  Why oh why Restoration Hardware do you tease me with such beautiful products that I can’t even begin to imagine affording?  *sigh


Source: Restoration Hardware, $1395

For those of you who are more of the shopper type than the transformer type, here are a few other, more affordable options.


Source: Rugs USA, $416


Source: Amazon, $379

Pottery Barn

Source: Pottery Barn, $349


Source: World Market, $119

I was actually tempted to give up on my junk transformation quest when I found the World Market option but I knew the sisters wouldn’t approve.  It at least gave me a price limit to stick to.  The World Market version was $119 for the tripod and another $20 for the shade so if I could make this thing for under $139, my mission would be deemed successful.

When you live in a big city and need to find a random item, you turn to the ultimate urban picking source: CraigsList.  Usually it takes me awhile when I’m looking for something really specific but I must have some good karma stored up because I immediately stumbled across this…


Do my eyes deceive me?!  Telescope tripod?  Vintage?  Cool lamp stand?  SOLD!

Especially since, when checking eBay the antique tripods I found were in the $170-$250 range like this guy.  No thanks.

eBay Tripod

I immediately contacted the seller and set up a time to go look at it.  As we pulled into their neighborhood, Chris mentioned the area looked familiar.  Then we pulled up to the house and looked at each other, both realizing the same thing.

We had been here before.

We had bought from these people before.

Yes, we had fallen off the edge of the CraigsList map.

So what did we do?  Got out of the car, rang the doorbell, and pretended we were strangers… I don’t think the sellers had the same realization we did.  Maybe we’ll clue them in the third time.

Anyway, I offered $60.  He hesitated until I told him of my noble cause- giving this tripod an exciting second life.  Boom.  Done.

Now I just needed Chris to make this thing functional for me!


I love space. And no, not the “space” they talk about on HGTV. I mean outer space, the space that you literally have to strap yourself on top of a couple hundred tons of explosives and blow yourself off the face of the planet at 23 times the speed of sound to get to, the space that is so massive that the human brain isn’t actually capable of accurately comprehending its size. I got hooked on astronomy in Boy Scouts and have loved stargazing ever since. Every night I look up and admire the beauty of the night sky, and I even get texts from NASA letting me know when I can see the space station fly by.


Yup, turns out I married super-nerd.  He sets his alarm for 4 am so he can get a glimpse of this thing for a few seconds.  And then he can’t seem to understand why I have no desire to get up with him and watch a small bright ball of light cross the sky.  It looks just like an airplane people!  Trust me, uninterrupted sleep is the better option here.


So, when Julie told me we were getting a telescope stand, I got really excited.

Well, it turns out that we weren’t going to be using it for any space-related activities. No, Julie wanted to make it a lamp. Whatever, at least I’d get to wire something.

I’ve never made a lamp before, but my sister used to make them all the time as a hobby, so I knew they could be made out of just about anything that can stand on its own. I also remembered her saying that Home Depot has pretty much everything you’ll need, so that’s where we began. It turns out we only needed two things, the socket and the cord:

Lamp_Parts3 Lamp_Parts2

So, now all I had to do was figure out a way to lampify this tripod by attaching said socket and cord. I wasn’t 100% sure how I was going to accomplish this, but I was 100% sure how a lamp works, so I at least had a starting point: mounting the socket. Fortunately lamp parts are fairly universal so all I had to to was figure out how to secure a piece of lamp all-thread to the top, which basically just means I had to drill a hole in the top. Simple enough, right?

Well, first I had to modify the tripod a bit. It had a little nub on the top where the telescope itself would actually mount, but it stuck up maybe an inch or so. I really didn’t want to bore through that much metal, so I strapped the whole thing to a saw horse and took a sawzall to it (I wrapped it in a towel so the wood wouldn’t get scratched):




Next, I took my Dremel and ground down the rough surface left by the saw:



Next, I had to drill out a hole for the all-thread. All the metal on this thing is brass, so it was pretty soft and easy to drill through. I started with a relatively small hole to make sure I had it centered before stepping it up to a larger bit that was just slightly smaller than the diameter or the all-thread.



Finally, I was ready to start assembling it as a lamp, starting with the all-thread.





The brass was soft enough that the steel all-thread basically tapped its own threads, but just to be safe I ran a small bead of high-strength glue around the base to make sure it stays snug.


Now it was time to wire everything up, which basically just means running the wires through and not reversing the polarity of the socket.




And finally, the moment of truth: let there be light!


Poof. Nothing. But how could this be? I had all new components and everything was wired correctly. Clearly, I needed to consult the experts:


Of course! How could I have made such an elementary mistake?

\sigma = \frac{2 \pi^5 R^4}{15 h^3 c^2 N_{\rm A}^4} = \frac{32 \pi^5 h R^4 R_{\infty}^4}{15 A_{\rm r}({\rm e})^4 M_{\rm u}^4 c^6 \alpha^8}

Just kidding, the derivation of the Stefan-Boltzmann constant has nothing to do with burnt out bulbs.


So, now I had a functioning lamp. Oh, but the shade was warped so I stole Julie’s hair dryer and used it as the world’s worst heat gun.


Hers. After.

Well, I’m glad to be the first home improvement/DIY blog that features a scientific equation… Enough math.  Let’s get to the good stuff.  I love how this lamp turned out and it only cost $91 total.  Here’s the breakdown:

DO or DIY | How to Create a Tripod Floor Lamp  Lamp_After8

DO or DIY | How to Create a Tripod Floor Lamp

Such a great fit in our living room!  I love how it instantly warms up the space and goes really well with our table lamp.  And I can’t get over the $1300 price savings.  I mean, the sales tax on the Restoration Hardware lamp is even more than what ours cost total to make!

Lamp Comparison

What junk have you guys been transforming into treasures lately?  Has anyone else delved into the lamp-creation process?  I was surprised by how easy it was!  It has me thinking… what else can I lamp-ify?

How to Make a Telescope Lamp



Filed under Easy DIY Projects

CraigsList Crashes: Volume 3


Everyone knows that CraigsList is full of the good, the bad, and the ugly and boy, can it get really ugly.  The posts that crack me up the most are those where the ugly stuff is listed for a fortune.  I mean, seriously people, just because you decided to buy it at one point doesn’t mean it holds value.

Case and point: this mirror.  Does your living room need a nice piece above the fireplace?  Or does your dining room need a beautiful accent mirror to hang above the buffet?  Or does your entry need a mirror that you can check your make-up before you step out the door?  Well, have I found a classy piece for you!

Playboy Mirror

My biggest question is who’s home decor would this fit into?  They better hope Hugh Hefner is a CraigsList searcher. And doesn’t already have one.

Want to get an early start on Father’s Day this year?  You’re in luck- I have the best gift idea for you!  For a mere $350, you could give Dad everything he needs.  Hint: it’s stuffed AND adds some style to his wardrobe.


At least they recognize that the tie is ugly.  I’m not sure that I agree with their “this is a gift that keeps on giving” promise.  I think the only consequence this present would have would be my dad gifting me with something equally as priceless… such as the item listed below.

Tiger Candle

Now, I see a few problems with this piece:

  1. What sick person wants to watch a tiger burn in front of their eyes?  That’s got to be some sort of animal cruelty.
  2. A conversation piece?  Well, that’s probably true.  Here’s the conversation I envision happening when your guests come over and see it.  Guest: “Uh, what is that?” Candle owner: “It’s a tiger candle!” Guest: “Did you lose a bet?  Or get stuck with the worst white elephant gift?” Candle owner: “Oh no, I just think it’s a great centerpiece for my table!” Guest: “But… why do you want to burn a tiger?” Candle owner: “Oh, but isn’t it stunning work?” Guest: “Um, I have to go.”
  3. Not only is this most ridiculous candle I’ve seen on CraigsList but it comes with a ridiculous price tag.  Seriously, you think this thing is worth $125?  Really?  Really??
  4. Curious as to how quickly this thing would go, I periodically look for it on CraigsList to see if the ad had been taken down yet, in which I would then assume it had been purchased.  It was posted at the start of 2013, and guess what?  As of today, it’s still available.  Shocking!

This post wins “Best Photo” award.  Nevermind the ridiculous price they have for this daybed (a cheap metal bed frame from the early 90s shouldn’t cost $150 people!).  What I love about this is that the woman holding the bed is clearly trying to avoid being in the picture but instead of scooting over so she’s able to crop herself out, she just smiles but doesn’t look at the camera, hoping she blends in with all the other junk around her.  You can’t fool us!  We see you!!

Canopy Bed

And now to name the winner of the “Worst Boyfriend of Eternity” title.


So, not only is he willing to trade his future fiancé’s ring for a motorcycle but he’s willing to take a $5,000 loss for it!  Well sir, congrats to you on sealing your fate as a bachelor for life.  At least you can ride off into the sunset with… yourself.


I think one of my favorite pages on the internet is the “free” section of Craigslist. Not only can you snatch up some good stuff for free if you can quick-draw your phone as soon as it’s posted, but I also realized some people use it as a two-way street, meaning they want something for free, too. This is a prime example:

Broken Concrete

Here, this guy has cleverly disguised this ad as an offer for free concrete chunks, but what he’s really hoping for is some free labor to haul it away. If you have no way to haul off your busted up patio, maybe you shouldn’t have busted up your patio, dude.

This next guy really gets it, though. This is clearly an individual who understands the male laborer, that we will do just about anything for beer. I can’t count the number of times I’ve worked on a friend’s car, saving them thousands of dollars over taking it to a shop, all in exchange for $8 worth of beer. The true brilliance of this ad lies in this guy’s presumably successful ploy to get rid of two unwanted things, his old wood and this pile of the cheap beer no one else wanted. Except the wine coolers, your wife can have those.

Free Beer

I love a good riddle, and here’s a doozy:

Worthless Garbage

Is it worthless? Or is it worth $10? I’m betting his wife told him he couldn’t watch the game until he posted their stuff on Craigslist.

This next post is another fun riddle. The only thing I can think of that fits conveniently into a TV box is… well, a TV, and literally 100% of the TVs I have bought came in their own box. So, begs the question, what do I need a TV box for? This guy also wins the award for the “greatest overestimation of demand for a product” of all time.

TV Box

Hey, a sculptu- wait, what?


One of my favorite things to do when I’m bored is just look at random ads on Craigslist. You get a feel for exactly who is using the internet these days, especially when they’re from east Texas. This guy apparently has a slightly different concept of what guinea pigs are for than us “city folk” do.


This might actually be my favorite ad of all time, though. First of all, it’s a good price on goggles. Second, I love this guy’s enthusiasm for selling his goggles. But most importantly, it demonstrates exactly why I don’t eat at Braums, and frankly seeing a guy bent on combining ice cream and goggles wouldn’t be the strangest thing I’ve ever seen there.

Army Sand Goggles


Filed under CraigsList Crashes