A wall that projects only about five feet into the room created a dark corner in a friend’s living room. But the couch is butted up to that corner, so any lighting solution needed to fit in a tight space. Faced with a problem solving opportunity, I designed and built a floor lamp with a flat profile that would illuminate the corner. My material of choice: steel.
Grinding and Bending Steel
The first step was to create the steel hoop that would support the socket. I had a 6-foot length of1 ½-inch x 1/8-inch flatstock and 6 feet of 1 ½-inch square tube stock.
I hit each of them with an angle grinder and successively finer disks, ending with 120 and making the steel almost mirror smooth.
With the flat stock nice and shiny I bent it into a hoop. I started out by clamping it into a vice and bending it a bit at a time, but at 1/8-inch it was easier and faster just to bend it over my knee.
Welding and Shaping the Hoop
The bent flat stock got clamped in place and welded where the two ends came together. Now it was officially a hoop, but it wasn’t exactly round.
A 6-foot length means a diameter a little under 2 feet, so I wedged a 2-foot 2x4 into the hoop and hammered the steel, moving the brace incrementally around the circumference until the shape was true.
Creating the Hub
I measured out even lines inside the circle and drilled 5 holes in the hoop – 4 for the hub and 1 for the cord. The only repurposed piece on the lamp is the plate from the back of a bathroom heater I salvaged from an old project. With 4 holes drilled to match the ones in the hoop, I set springs in each and stretched the springs to eye-bolts in the hoop.
Originally I was going to leave the bolts extending outside the hoop as a design feature, so they were secured with a nut rather than welded. Eventually I decided I wanted a cleaner look so I cut them short, welded them in and ground them down.
Attaching the Foot
Actually, there’s a second piece of repurposed material here. I knew the lamp would be top heavy, and since space was an issue it couldn’t have a large base or extended legs. For a small footprint and low enter of gravity I used a 10-pound weight plate as the foot of the post.
If you’re building one if these, reverse the order of this step and the next. You’ll see why in a bit (or you’re way ahead of me). I buzzed the rust off the plate with a steel brush on my angle grinder.
And then welded the square pipe to the center to make a post.
Securing the Head
With the hoop completed I held it up against the tube stock to see how tall the thing would be. I cut the post to about 4 ½-feet so the hub would sit at about the middle of the wall. With such a weighty foot and such a long post, I couldn’t secure it horizontally to my bench. So, how would I get the hoop on straight?
I secured two speed squares to the top of the post, checking them for level.
With the squares as a guide, I welded the hoop to the post. Finally, all the welds were cleaned up with the grinder. If I welded the head on first it would have been much easier to square up and weld the foot on second, without performing any balancing acts.
Wiring the Lamp
I picked which side would be the back of the post and drilled a hole near the bottom. I fed a string through the hole and the corresponding hole in the hoop.
Then I taped the string to the lamp wire and pulled it through.
I wired it to a simple lamp holder with a pull-chain switch and secured it to the plate in the center of the hoop. I fed the chain down the hole where the cord goes, so it’s all tidy.
Finishing and Delivering
With the construction complete I gave the whole thing a final polish and then hit it with several coats of clear sealer. It was raining pretty hard when it came time to load the lamp into my truck. So instead of soaking myself while dealing with bungees and a tarp, I wedged it in the cab with the front seat folded all the way back.
I delivered it with an old fashioned Edison bulb, which would give a warmer light to contrast the hard lines of the lamp and throw interesting shadows on the wall.