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

32 responses to “I Love Lamp.

  1. Erica

    love it! and i think it looks better than the restoration hardware one

  2. Wow!!
    plus your shade works sooo much better than the store bought one.

    • DO or DIY

      Thanks! Agreed- it was nice to be able to go out and choose the perfect size and color that matched everything else.


  3. Amazing! As long as the lamp-ify process doesn’t really include that crazy mathematical equation… I think I can do it! =]
    That turned out really great! Good job!

  4. Love it and I too think it looks better than RH’s version. I think I might have to go on a search for a tripod of my own, you’ve inspired me!

    • DO or DIY

      Thanks! Good luck with the search! I think that was the most exciting part for me- gotta love the thrill of the hunt!


  5. That is brilliant! (Get it?) Anyway, I enjoyed the lamp Craigslist story and its assembly. However, I enjoyed the geek-out even more. Fellow nerd here. 🙂

    • Just today I also received the ‘new’ Company Kids catalog, wherein I spied a very similar lamp for $139, not including the shade. http://www.thecompanystore.com/Jayden-Floor-Lamp/72113,default,pd.html
      Just fyi.

      • DO or DIY

        Thanks! That’s another good option- looks like they’re already sold out online too! That was quick!


    • DO or DIY

      Bahaha, I love a good pun. Nice one, Christine. Chris will be glad to hear he’s attracting fellow nerds to the blog. Just don’t encourage his space station stalking- I wouldn’t mind it if he didn’t wake me up at 4 am rushing out of bed to see it! 🙂


      • Even funnier. My husband’s name is also Chris (well, Christopher, if you ask his mother or when he is in the dog house) and he and I try to see the space station as often as we can. We set our alarm clocks to see certain planets and meteor showers. Like I said, fellow nerd here. Sorry, but we’re with your husband on that point. 🙂

      • DO or DIY

        Hm, I wonder if the space nerdiness has something to do with the fact you all have “Chris” in your name. Haha!

  6. Lauralee Boling

    I have been wanting to do this very thing! AND, I have the antique telescope sitting on its very own sweet tripod. Mr. Wonderful thought we should donate it to Goodwill last summer when we were decluttering before listing our home. Well, it is sitting, no, make that waiting, in storage! Thanks for the great tutorial! Lauralee

    • DO or DIY

      *gasp! Good thing you saved it from the donate pile! These old tripods are too cool looking not to do something with!


  7. Janet

    I bought a vintage camera tripod at an estate sale a few months ago and told my hubby that’s what I want to do with it. Thanks so much, now I can show him your pictures! (and he’s an engineer, so he will dig all the math)
    Our wood is dry and dusty, so I’m thinking of staining it dark, but all in all, very cool and I can’t wait! Janet

    • DO or DIY

      How cool, Janet! I’m so glad some of our readers will get that equation… I’m still scratching my head over it! Good luck with your project- tell your hubs it’s so worth it!


  8. Thanks for your great tutorial! We too have an antique tripod like this in our basement. I tried to explain what I wanted to do with it to my husband, but he didn’t like the idea of desecrating his Dad’s tripod (many happy childhood memories of star-gazing with it). After showing him your tutorial and how great it looks though he is totally on board. Much better having it in the living room where it can be enjoyed every day than mouldering away in the basement, I say.

  9. What a great DIY project! I think yours looks better than the original too.

  10. jennifet

    im so in love with your idea.ive been obsessing over these lamps but not the price. I’m having such a hard time getting call backs from craigslist ads. I’ve literally replied to over 30 ads and not one call back. after seeing this hack I’m not giving up. thank you for posting this. it’s beautiful!

    • DO or DIY

      I definitely know that feeling of being frustrated over no call backs- it’s the worst! I swear it’s 100% luck and timing. Good luck with your search! Keep it up- one day you’ll be the lucky one who grabs the big score. Flea markets and antique markets are good hunting grounds too.


      • jennifet

        just wanted to let you know I scored a tripod today from craigslist. I couldnt believe it. I did drive an hour each way but I didnt care. it was only $20 and a little road trip for my kids!

  11. Tahir

    Really great DIY project. How does the lamp shade stay in place?

    • DO or DIY

      Actually, we’re still trying to determine a permanent solution for keeping it in place. Right now, it’s just set there. It’s usually pretty steady and we just need to go back and straighten it every other week or so. If we come up with a permanent solution, we’ll update you all. If anyone else has a secret to securing a lamp shade, please share!


  12. simplepleasures

    Your lamp looks great! I can’t wait to make one… picked up a $0.50 shade last week and a $5.00 telescope today. I have a broken lamp to salvage parts from so I think my total cost will be under $10.00….if I can get DD to take the telescope off the tripod. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • DO or DIY

      So jealous of your $5 tripod! What a deal! Good luck with your project- I hope you love the result as much as we did!


  13. Sarah F.

    Just found your blog via Pinterest I believe! I am loving. laughing. ohhing and ahhing. Can’t wait to follow via Bloglovin’! You make me want to start a blog now that we’re signing the papers for our house!!! 🙂

    • DO or DIY

      Good luck with the new house and the crazy adventure of home ownership that you’re about to start, Sarah! Glad you found us! We appreciate the new fan!


  14. Pingback: Tuft Luck | DO or DIY

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