Friday, February 24, 2012

Make Your Own DIY Drum Pendant Light

Whoa we had some serious mojo going this weekend with the extra day on Monday to work! I've got about 3 weeks of posts backed up so I'm considering rolling in more than 3 posts a week (which is what I normally strive for). Anyways, as a warning, this tutorial is extremely picture heavy!

I just want to give a shout out to my man Rob. When we bought the house in October he made his visiting father put up our light in the mancave because he didn't know how... now he is an electrical god basically. He built this pendant from scratch using random parts he found at the Home Depot. The great thing is that it cost less than $9 for the entire pendant! 

In the end, it turned out to be fairly easy thanks to some advice from the lighting guy at Home Depot. So easy that you can do it too! 

(again, ignore the flooring and free poop dresser... too heavy for me to move!)


First, you'll need a few things:
1.) Lamp piece. These are the replacement heads that are on lamps, it has an on and off switch, but most importantly has two bolts for black/white wires and a screw in spot for your light bulb. This was about $3.

2.) Something to connect your pendant into. In our case, we were connecting it to our Ikea 365+ track lighting system. We bought the line voltage converter that Ikea sells for $5.

3.) Wire. We bought 4 ft. of black/white electrical wire in a silvery color for .44 cents a foot. You will not need a grounding wire (green) if you're using a track system like us (it's already grounded). IF you needed grounding wire (green wire) than you could simply buy a grounded extension cord (the ones with 3 prongs at the end) and cut off the plug end and use those wires! It is cheaper (and more aesthetically pleasing-- no one wants an orange wired pendant light) to buy it from the foot though. Ours was $1.25ish.

Also wire cutters, light bulb (max of 120w), and a drum pendant (any size. Ours was "medium" at 15 in. diameter). 

Now you have to pull the plastic sleeve off the ends of the wires and seperate the two wires a bit at the ends (so you can feed them in their own slots). Rob was fancy and used scissors. 

Next, you need take the sleeve off your ugly gold lamp part and put your newly exposed wires into them. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT PART: Your lamp part has two screws you'll clamp/screw down onto the wires. They are color coded to go with a specific wire. The white cord goes under the silver screw and the black wire goes under the brass screw. If you're using the silvery cord we used they aren't colored. Therefore, the ribbed wire goes under the silver screw and the smooth wire under the brass screw.

Slide the wire in place under the screw, then tighten with a screw driver. Rob pulled on them a bit after this step to make sure they were held tight.

Ta-Da! This is what it will look like when done correctly.

Now, slide your goldy sleeves back on your lamp part.  

Lastly, tighten the screw at the top onto your silvery cord. This keeps it tight and puts any weight you'll have on the pendant, on the screw at the top rather than your handy screw work on the inside.

Finally, attach your wires to the pendant voltage track converter or straight to the ceiling wires depending on how you're wiring your pendant up. It works the same way it did before, black wires go in the specific color coded spot and so do the white wires. If you're wiring it to the ceiling it's even easier since you twist the white wires to the white and the black to the black. Easy.

Now it is looking more like a pendant right?

So you need to give it a test run. TURN OFF YOUR POWER TO THE ROOM YOU'RE INSTALLING THE LIGHT. Sorry, that's very important. Oh, and put a light bulb in it. We used a halogen E26. LOVE!! Such a pretty clear light. 

Anyways, install it or pop it in your track system. Turn your power back on. Turn your light on. 

IT LIVES!!! Woo! Make sure it's the right length and turn the power OFF again. Take your new fixture down because now you need to add the shade. Find any drum shade at walmart/target/etc. We found a Christmas one at Lowes on sale for $3.

You can attach the shades two ways. One is to hack saw a small opening through the metal ring at the center of the spider bits on the shade and slide the cord in. The other way (the one we chose) is to uninstall the wires from the track connecter (or ceiling) and simply slide the shade onto the cord.

Reinstall and then turn the power back ON.

As a final step, we peeled off the ugly Christmas ribbon. 

Enjoy your extremely cheap pendant light! But as always, do electrical work at your own risk. This is a DIY job and I can't guarantee your house won't blow up. Hopefully mind won't ;)

Edited to add: Hmm apparently you do need a grounding wire thanks to some insight by Rob's engineering dad... we're going to work on it and get back to you this weekend with a newer, safer, tutorial! Don't blow up your houses just yet! 

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  1. Go Rob! Isn't it amazing what owning a home will force you to learn?

    But what I'm really curious about is that Christmas people really switch out their lampshades for the holidays?! I feel I have missed something big.

  2. I am far too scared of electricity to attempt anything. I think you really need to know what you are doing, it can be fatal if you don't follow instructions to the letter. I would recommend anyone interested gets some good literature.(Or better still, a tame electrician!)


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