lamp made from a curtain rod standing lit in a room
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How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

How to use stock lumber and a window accessory to craft this eye-catching fixture

A floor lamp offers the perfect way to illuminate a cozy little reading nook. But the plain-pole, chrome-plated torchères available at many home stores practically shout "dorm room!" You can do better. This timeless piece, modeled after a classic mid-century modern design, is a more sophisticated option that complements any decor. And the construction couldn't be simpler: The lamp cord runs through a threaded rod that supports ledges of painted stock lumber separated by hollow spacers made from a metal curtain rod. As soon as you put yours together, you'll want to plug it in and curl up with your favorite read. This Old House general contractor Tom Silva walks you through the how-to.

Curtain rod: Basic Blindz basic ball sienna bronze rod; Lowe's
Paint: Valspar's Lincoln Cottage Black (#4009-2); Valspar Paint


Steps // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp
1 ×

Overview of Parts for Building a Freestanding lamp

 
Step One // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Overview of Parts for Building a Freestanding lamp

overview of the parts needed to build a freestanding lamp from a curtain rod
Photo by Don Penny/Time Inc. Digital Studio

Choose a hollow rod at least 48 inches long and of a consistent diameter throughout to cut and install between the decorative ledges.

Cut List
1x6 stand-alone ledges: five @ 5½ inches

1x6 bottom-most ledge: one @ 7 inches

1x6 top ledge of the C-shaped assembly: one @ 7½ inches

1x6 vertical connector of the C-shaped assembly: one @ 7½ inches

1x6 bottom ledge of the C-shaped assembly: one @ 5½ inches

curtain-rod spacers: two @ 3 inches

curtain-rod spacers: five @ 8 inches

½-inch plywood base: one @ 9 by 12 inches

1x3 feet: four @ 3 inches

Note: All materials available at Lowe's.

Download the cut list to build a lamp.

 
2 ×

Cut the Ledges

 
Step Two // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Cut the Ledges

this old house general contractor cutting the ledges to size for building a freestanding lamp
Photo by Renna Bammi

Note all dimensions from the cut list before proceeding. Using a miter saw, cut all ledge pieces from 1x6 lumber.

 
3 ×

Mark Hole Locations for the Spacers

 
Step Three // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Mark Hole Locations for the Spacers

this old house general contractor marking  hole locations for the spacers while building a freestanding lamp
Photo by Renna Bammi

Using a straightedge, mark the center point on one side of each stand-alone ledge and the bottom-most ledge by drawing pencil lines corner to corner; the center of the "X" is the hole location. For the top ledge of the C-shaped assembly, use the vertical piece to mark off the ¾-inch space where it will butt against the ledge, then draw an "X" on the remaining surface area to find the hole location. Set aside the unmarked bottom ledge of the C-shaped assembly.

 
4 ×

Drill the Recesses for the Spacers

 
Step Four // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Drill the Recesses for the Spacers

this old house general contractor drilling recesses for the spacers while building a freestanding lamp
Photo by Renna Bammi

Using a ⅝-inch paddle bit, make a ¼ -inch-deep recess into one side of each ledge in the locations you marked in Step 2, to seat the curtain-rod spacers.

 
5 ×

Transfer the Hole Locations

 
Step Five // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Transfer the Hole Locations

this old house general contractor transferring the hole locations while building a freestanding lamp
Photo by Renna Bammi

For the stand-alone ledges and top ledge of the C-shaped assembly, hammer a finishing nail just through the middle of each recess to transfer this point to the opposite side. Next, mark the location of the recess on the C-shaped assembly's bottom ledge: Set the top ledge on top of it, flush at one end; and hammer a nail through its center point until it leaves a small impression in the surface of the bottom ledge. Drill the recess in the bottom ledge; then transfer its center point to the opposite side as you did with the other ledges. Flip all ledges over, and for each one make a ¼-inch-deep recess centered over the nail hole.

 
6 ×

Drill the Holes

 
Step Six // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Drill the Holes

this old house general contractor drilling the holes for the wire while building a freestanding lamp
Photo by Renna Bammi

Drill a ⅜-inch hole through the centers of the recesses in the stand-alone ledges and in the bottom and top ledges of the C-shaped assembly. Sandwich the vertical piece of the C-shaped assembly between the top and bottom ledges so that its ends abut the marked-off area and its face is flush with one edge of each ledge. Secure the assembly with wood glue and screws. Fill screw holes with wood putty.

 
7 ×

Cut the Base and the Feet

 
Step Seven // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Cut the Base and the Feet

this old house general contractor cutting the base and feet while building a freestanding lamp
Photo by Renna Bammi

Note all dimensions from the cut list before proceeding. Use a circular saw to cut the base from ½-inch plywood, and a miter saw to cut the feet from 1x3 lumber.

 
8 ×

Attach Bottommost Ledge to the Base and Add the Feet

 
Step Eight // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Attach Bottommost Ledge to the Base and Add the Feet

this old house general contractor attaching the ledge to the base and feet while building a freestanding lamp
Photo by Renna Bammi

Center the bottommost ledge on the plywood base and mark its edges. Apply wood glue to the bottom surface of the ledge, set it in place, and secure the pieces by screwing 1-inch screws through the base and into the underside of the ledge. Drill a ⅜-inch hole through the center of the recess in the ledge to create a hole in the ledge and base. Screw a 1x3 foot to each corner of the base so that two edges of each foot protrude ½ inch from the base's edges.

 
9 ×

Cut the Spacers

 
Step Nine // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Cut the Spacers

this old house general contractor cutting the spacess while building a freestanding lamp
Photo by Renna Bammi

Using a pipe cutter, cut the curtain rod into short lengths according to the cut list.

 
10 ×

Lay Out the Pieces

 
Step Ten // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Lay Out the Pieces

this old house general contractor laying out the pieces to build a freestanding lamp
Photo by Renna Bammi

Arrange the spacers and ledges on a flat surface in assembly order to make sure they'll fully cover the wire rod, as shown.

 
11 ×

Sand and Paint the Wood Pieces

 
Step Eleven // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Sand and Paint the Wood Pieces

this old house general contractor sanding and painting the pieces to build a freestanding lamp
Photo by Renna Bammi

Sand the ledges and base assembly with 120-grit sandpaper. Paint all pieces and let dry.

 
12 ×

Assemble the Pieces

 
Step Twelve // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Assemble the Pieces

this old house general contractor assembling the pieces to build a freestanding lamp
Photo by Renna Bammi

String the lamp wire through the threaded rod. Tighten a nut at the base of the rod. Slide the base, ledges, and spacers onto the rod in assembly order.

 
13 ×

Thread the Collar

 
Step Thirteen // How to Turn a Curtain Rod into a Lamp

Thread the Collar

this old house general contractor threading the collar to build a freestanding lamp
Photo by Renna Bammi

Tighten the collar onto the wire rod until it sits snugly against the top ledge. Thread wire through the socket and wire the lamp; get instructions here for how to rewire a lamp.

 
 
 

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