Published in the Spring 2006 issue • DIY
Continued from page 1
Cut the outlet off the extension cord. Using the knife or box cutter and starting at the cut end, split 4 cm of the cord down the middle.
Your extension cord should now fork off into two strands of cord, each 4 cm long. Using wire strippers, strip the plastic coating off each piece of cord, exposing the copper wire beneath. Generally, wire strippers are designed to strip wire of multiple sizes (called gauges). You may need to adjust the gauge to fit your cord. Stripping the wire takes some force. Be aggressive—it should feel like pulling apart stale licorice.
You should now have two strands of exposed copper wire, each made up of itty-bitty wires. It’s important that you keep these two strands of wire separate and do not allow them to touch or cross each other when you are attaching them to the socket (which will cause the light to short). Take one of the strands and tightly twist all the itty-bitty wires into one. Repeat with the other strand.
Disassemble the pull-chain light socket into its four parts: top cap, outer casing, cardboard shell and socket. Take the cap and string both strands of the extension cord through it, pushing the cap down the cord and out of your way. Then loosen the two screws in the socket.
You are now ready to attach the wires to the socket. If you are wondering which way the socket goes, just think about how the light will turn on when it hangs from the ceiling. You want the pull-chain to pull down. Take one strand of wire and wind it tightly, once around the screw, below the head. Tighten the screw. Trim off any excess wire. Ensuring the wires don’t touch or cross, attach the other strand to the other screw.
Reassemble the socket, finishing by snapping the cap on so that it clicks shut.
Screw in a light bulb, plug it in and you’ve made a light. (If you haven’t made a light, unplug it. You can probably troubleshoot it yourself. Start with the simplest solution, like replacing the light bulb. You can always disassemble, cut off what you’ve done and then start over from the first step.)
Attach the shade. To hang the light, fasten the cord to the wall and ceiling with a couple of insulated staples. Attach a ribbon, string or beads to the pull-chain to make it long enough for you to comfortably turn it on.
These basic principles of wiring apply to all lamps. You can use them to fix old, broken lamps or to make new lamps out of almost anything: bottles, wire and beads, crystals, rice paper and bamboo sticks, acetate, baskets, papier mâché. Your imagination is the limit.