Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to re-wire a lamp

First, if you missed the lamp makeover, check it out here.

I'm really excited to share this tutorial with you today! In the past, I've taken lamps to my local lamp repair store to be re-wired by the pros. I actually thought about taking this lamp there as well, but when they told me it would take 7-10 days to complete, I just knew I couldn't wait that long to start using my lamp!

To be honest, I never even plugged in this lamp to see if it worked. It might have, but the cord and socket both looked really old and worn out, so I decided to play it safe and just re-wire it.

I went to home depot to get my supplies:

The cord was $5.98 and the socket was $4.18, to be exact.

Besides the cord and socket, you'll also need:

Needle-nose pliers
Wire cutters
Snap-off knife

To guide me through the re-wiring process, I used a combination of the directions on the back of the packaging (which were terrible, by the way) and some Google-ing (which also wasn't a great help). I found most of the instructions online to be confusing and unclear, so I did my best to figure things out along the way. I hope this tutorial will be very clear and easy for anyone to follow if they need to re-wire a lamp! 

Here we go with the step-by-step instructions!

I hope this is obvious, but please unplug your lamp before starting the re-wiring process! 

1. Locate the nut at the base of your lamp. If the base of your lamp is covered, you will have to remove it. Unscrew the nut just enough so that the pipe inside that is holding the cord comes loose. 

2. At this point, you will be able to unscrew the socket at the top of the lamp. After you've unscrewed it, tug on it to pull the wire up through the lamp just a little bit. 

3. Using wire cutters, snip the existing lamp cord just below the socket. Pull the cord out through the bottom of the lamp.

4. Feed the new cord through the bottom of the lamp until you see it coming through the top.

5. Your socket will be in 2 pieces. Screw on the base first.

6. Pull up more wire through the top of the lamp to get ready to tie what is called the "underwriters knot". My wire came already stripped like this, but if yours isn't, you will have to do that step as well. I did have to split the cord further down before tying the knot. I just used a snap-off knife.

7. To begin tying the underwriters knot, fold your wires down into an "m" shape.

Bring the right side of the wire to the front, and the left side of the wire to the back.

Tie the knot as shown, and tighten. Pull the knot down into the socket as much as possible to prepare for the next step.

8. Grab the cap, (that's the part with the on/off switch) and separate the inner sleeve from the outer shell by pressing down on the little copper tab inside.

Now your cap will be in 2 pieces.

9. Take the inner sleeve. There will be 2 screws on it. One brass, one silver. Loosen these with a screwdriver. 

If your lamp cord has a white or ribbed wire, that one is supposed to go on the silver screw. The other wire will go on the brass screw. Since my wires looked identical, I assumed it didn't matter which one went where. I attached the end of the exposed wire behind the head of the screw by wrapping it around the screw clockwise with needle-nose pliers. 

After you've wrapped your wires around the screws, secure them by tightening the screws.

Now, push the sleeve down into the socket and slip the shell (that's the brass piece) over the sleeve.

10. Last step! Tighten everything up by turning the nut at the base of the lamp. If you had to remove the base of your lamp, re-attach it now.

Finally.....let there be light!

If you're interested in the cost breakdown:

Lamp: $5.95
Socket: $4.18
Cord: $5.98

TOTAL: $16.11

Don't forget to go here to see how I gave this lamp a makeover for no additional money!

I hope this tutorial will be a helpful resource if you need to re-wire a lamp any time soon!


  1. This is a great DIY Rachel! I'm impressed that you tackled electrical wiring. I've dabbled in it myself a few times and it always makes me very nervous. Well, I did get a few volts to my fingers once.....always makes me double check that the breakers are switched off now, haha! ;-)

  2. Thanks Mary Ann! Oh no! I'm glad you're ok! I'd like to take on some "real" electric work like hanging a chandelier, but that's definitely more intense than rewiring a steps! Haha:)


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