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Do It Yourself

Photo by Doug Rosa

We've spotted lots of period and vintage pendant lights at secondhand stores lately, and we're digging them for a couple of reasons: (1) They're often inexpensive, and (2) they're a snap to fix. This one, from the early 1940s, would look perfect in a small entry hall or over a modest-sized dining table. The glass shade is in good shape, so all it took to get it ready to hang from a standard electrical box was a new socket assembly and some basic rewiring. Practically every piece of an old fixture can be rebuilt on the cheap, so if you stumble across one you like, grab it. Here's the gear you'll need to get it working again.


Photo by Doug Rosa

Wire Strippers

This pair has a snap-in voltage detector for testing the wires before you work. About $20; Circuit Alert

Needlenosed Pliers

Photo by Doug Rosa

For crimping the wires together. About $25; Klein Tools


Photo by Doug Rosa

Get one with a rubber or insulated handle to protect against shock. About $20 for tool and 11-bit kit; Bondhus


Photo by Doug Rosa

Electrical Tape

Wrap a layer around the wire nuts and the wires to make sure they won't loosen over time. About $2 at hardware stores

Wire Nuts

Photo by Doug Rosa

Oversized grips make these easier to twist on. About $5.50 for 10; Ideal Industries, Inc.

18-Gauge Wire

Photo by Doug Rosa

Covered in rayon instead of PVC, this gives a fixture with exposed wiring a more finished look. From About $1 per foot; Restoration Lighting Gallery

Socket and Insulator

Photo by Doug Rosa

A new home for the bulb; the cardboard tube covers the socket to keep it cool to the touch. From About $3 at hardware stores