The Making of a Vintage Industrial Lamp.

The Making of a Vintage Industrial Lamp.

Vintage Industrial Desk Lamps and Table Lamps

Industrial style lamps have been in Vogue for many years now. Industrial style lamps can be found across the internet both new and second hand. Industrial table lamps, Industrial Floor lamps and Industrial desk lamps with a vintage age are highly sought after and vary greatly in design and quality.

New industrial style lamps are also widely available and also vary greatly in quality, many very average lamps can be found at high prices in shopping centres and outlets across the globe.

If you want something unique and a bit different there are many excellent online sellers that sell reconditioned vintage industrial lamps.

However If you want something really different that is a one off then consider the option of making something yourself, this way you will have a lamp that is not only unique and a one off but it will also have your personal stamp and your efforts as part of its makeup.

Please read on for details of a project that I recently carried out to produce a large and unique Vintage Industrial lamp that could be used as a floor lamp or as a large industrial desk lamp.

The Project.

I recently had the chance to buy a really interesting Vintage Industrial steel container. This great looking old container dates from at least the 1950s period and is stamped with a makers name “Fevermaker London”

The container is quite large, round in section with a tapering neck and a brass and alloy screw on lid section, this great piece of industrial salvage has two pivoting carry handles and has many years of poorly sprayed stencilled lettering and a few applied sheets of thick paper that had been fixed for new lettering over many years. There were also many paint marks and splashes from years working in some kind of industrial yard.

The container is built like a tank, really well-made and with industrial use strength built in, despite the build quality the container has many dents, marks and signs of life which add to its interesting look.

The Vintage Container as found.

Well used, battered but with great character.

Having had a good look at this great old container I decided it would make a great looking and large industrial lamp, ideal for a bar, café, loft setting or of course the ever popular man cave.

The first step I took was to clean the container and remove the old layers of paper labels. The container was heavily soaked and left overnight, the labels were gently scraped away and the container already looked a bit brighter.

After cleaning.

The obvious place to position the bulb holder was at the heavy alloy screw on lid, this was also the best place illuminate the container as the light would fall on the lamp and emphasise the great aged character of the steel. At some point in its history the container had been dropped or knocked causing the lid to sit off true horizontal, to counter this the lid was carefully drilled in situ at an angle that allowed the new fitting tube to sit vertically. The tube and rod used were second hand with aged and tarnished marks allowing them to blend in well with the containers used look.

The container with the new mounting tube fitted in place.

I really wanted to avoid drilling the old container body for wiring as I thought this would spoil the balance of this great piece of industrial history. The wiring was instead routed through a handy fitting called a side entry tube which is machined from Brass and has both a female and male thread allowing it to be used in projects where the wiring path is not from underneath the bulb holder. These great little fittings also have a built-in cord grip which makes them suitable for a wide range of applications.

The side entry tube working a treat.

The container was fitted with an un-switched earthed BC bayonet bulb holder. The wiring used was modern vintage style cloth covered earthed cable, cloth covered cable is ideal for this situation as it is flexible and will lay down the body of the container and will blend into the aged look we are trying to achieve. The wiring was fitted with an in line on/off switch for operation.

The container with completed wiring fitted.

The lamp conversion is now complete. The final task is to carry out a thorough clean and polish. This final polish is crucial in bringing out the character and age in the steel container, the aim is to highlight the bumps, marks, imperfections and different finishes that have been applied over many decades of use in an industrial yard. I use a top quality wax for this purpose which is called “Renaissance Micro Crystalline Wax Polish” – This is the best wax finish for such a project as it cleans, protects and brings out texture and colour from any material, it is used and recommended by museums. It is expensive but a little goes a long way and it is definitely worth the cost.



The finished lamp after a final clean and polish.


The lamp in use and showing some of its battle scars.




The character and life of the lamp is highlighted in various details.

I hope you like this new lamp conversion, I am very pleased with the result I think it does justice to a great piece of industrial history.

Materials – Coarse Medium and Fine wire wool. Cleaning and finishing Wax. Cloth covered Earthed Wiring. Earthed Brass bulb holder. In line switch. Side entry wiring fitting. Second hand Brass and threaded tubes.

Time Spent on the lamp – 4 Hours.

I often have a number of Vintage Industrial items for sale in my eBay shop here – Hertfordshire Lighting and Design

With a little thought and a touch of imagination there area whole host of possibilities for industrial lamp conversions out there.

Visit your local salvage centre, salvage yards, flea markets and even check out skips in your neighbourhood, you may be lucky enough to unearth a gem.

I would love to hear from anyone who has performed a similar re purpose project; it’s always great to share ideas with other people.

If you have any questions or need advice on any item of Vintage lighting please contact me and I will do my best to help.

Michael Adkins.


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