What should you do when your chandelier is old and just has to go? Build a new one – but make it even older than the first one!
Here is the one that is headed to our local Goodwill:
Now… here’s how we made our new/old one. We’ve compiled all of the materials and instructions below so you can follow along and make your own!
ONE: PREP YOUR MATERIALS
- One old or vintage-style box
- 15 feet of lamp cord
- 6 keyless lamp sockets
- 2 wire connectors
- 6 quart-size mason jars with lids
- 6 utility light bulbs (utility bulbs are able to withstand some heat)
- 2 pieces of 2x4s, cut to the same length as the inside of your box
- Drill & drill bits
- Wood screws – long enough to go through the 2x4s into the ceiling, and through the outside of your box into the 2x4s
- Stud finder
I picked up this super old box at a garage sale for a dollar quite a while ago. It has been hanging around our house as a toy box for a long time, but it was time for it to have a new purpose.
A little Restor-a-Finish and Seed-N-Wax made a big difference in the finish on the box. It was too old to be sanded, and I didn’t want to cover up the words (you can just barely see the “High Explosives, Dangerous” in the pictures) with a darker stain.
Besides the box, we also needed 15 feet of lamp cord (we used this black fabric-wrapped Ikea cord set), six keyless lamp sockets, some wire connectors (we used something like these because a neighbor gave them to us… but anything similar would work), extra electrical wire (to connect the six cords to the junction box in the ceiling), and six mason jars with lids (we used vintage blue ones that we found on Craigslist).
TWO: ASSEMBLE THE LIGHTS
First, we cut our lamp cord into six equal lengths. Make sure to have plenty of helpers for this part.
Next, we drilled holes into the mason jar lids – just big enough to fit the lamp sockets into. It was easiest to drill them when they were attached to the jars… but we did end up breaking one jar. Oops. Good thing we started with seven jars! When we were done drilling, we tried to straighten out the rough/bumpy edges with a pair of pliers. It kinda sorta worked… kinda not. But they were less jagged than when we started.
Then we pulled out our keyless sockets and unscrewed the top and bottom pieces. The bottom piece is what the light bulb screws into, and the top piece is what the lamp cord comes up out of. Our plan was for the bottom half to be inside the mason jar, and the top half to stick up through the top of the mason jar.
We had to pull back the outer fabric on all the pieces of our lamp cord, and use a knife to cut back the plastic coating and expose the wires. Don’t worry – we also wrapped some electrical tape around the fabric to hold it away from exposed wires. Once we had the wires exposed, we wrapped them around the screws inside the lamp sockets. (There are plenty of YouTube videos about how to do this properly. Here’s a good one to start with.)
We were able to sandwich the mason jar lids in between the two sides of the lamp socket when we screwed the sockets back together, just like we planned. Whew – glad that worked!
And here are all the happy little mason jars, complete with their light sockets and cords!
THREE: ATTACH THE LIGHTS TO THE BOX
Back to the box. We drilled six holes at equal intervals in the bottom of the box, and then turned it over and tied knots in the wires to get the jars at the heights that we wanted. This part actually took us the longest. We experimented with SO many different arrangements of jar heights – and then, of course, ended up with the one we started with.
Once we had all of the cords knotted at the perfect heights, we used the wire connectors to combine all of our black wires into one, and all of our white wires into one. These two wires (one black, one white) are what we would use to connect all of the lights to the junction box in the ceiling. Here is what the inside of the box looked like once we had the wires connected to each other. You can kind of see the one white wire and one black wire sticking up out from the chaos below.
Finally, we drilled tiny holes in the top of the jar lids to let heat escape. Oh, and since this was an afterthought, we did this part at the dining room table. Want some metallic dust with your cereal, kids?! Good thing they were sleeping at this point!
FOUR: HANG IT ON THE CEILING
When it was all assembled and ready to hang, we took the light bulbs and mason jars off so that we wouldn’t accidentally break anything. (Because now we only had six mason jars left… no wiggle room for any more accidents!)
My studly husband secured two 2x4s (cut to the same length as the box) to studs in the ceiling.
They may look a little random, but they should be centered so that the box will fit snugly over them and be squared with the walls. Measure well for this part!
Oh yeah, and then we had to take the old chandelier down before we could put the new one up! This made it a little tough to see what we were doing, but between some flashlights and a headlamp, we managed. We could have waited until the next morning and daylight… but once a project really gets going, it’s hard to quit!
And then I stood here holding this box for lots of minutes with images from Unbroken flashing through my mind (what, you haven’t read it?? You must!!!), and then “ohmygoshIamsuchawimp,” and then, “Todd?? Almost done!?” – while Todd calmly and methodically drilled holes, took pictures, and then screwed through the outside of the box into the sides of the 2x4s on either side of the box.
FIVE: TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES!
Finally, the part we had been looking forward to for months (yes – this took us months. It will only take you a few hours if you have instructions and no kids – but without instructions and with kids, multiply estimated time by about 300) – standing back to admire and take pictures! In some of the pictures you can tell that our mason jars are blue, but thankfully they don’t tint the light at all.
And now for the best part! We saved quite a chunk of change by making this ourselves rather than buying one off of Etsy or at Pottery Barn. So the money we saved is going to World Help to support Iraqi and Syrian refugees. This Christian humanitarian organization will use these funds to distribute life-saving items to families in need – food, water, clothing, bedding, and medicine – as well as to fund the continued operation of mobile medical clinics. If you end up making one of these chandeliers – or even if you don’t – please consider making a contribution, too! (Read more about why we are donating).
P.S. A big thank you to our friends at http://beautifulcrazychiaramontes.blogspot.com/ for the inspiration and encouragement to make this, and to our super handy neighbor Joshua for his help on the project!
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