Wednesday, July 3, 2013

DIY Brass Chandelier

First of all, thank you for all the nice comments about the piano room! I'm glad to hear that you seem to like it as much as we do. Today I'm going to share a little "how-to" for the light fixture. I think you'll be surprised to see how easy it is. With all the brass fixture part options, you could totally customize this to fit your taste or style! I originally saw this flight fixture in this post on a blog called One King's Lane. They mentioned that they had made it themselves, so I immediately commented on the post saying how much I loved the light and that they MUST post some instructions :) As you may know, I'm a little impatient. So when they didn't respond within an hour saying they would be posting instructions, I started doing a little research myself. A simple Google search for "brass lamp making parts" led me to Grand Brass. I dug through all the parts they sold and quickly figured out the basic parts I would need to build it. Luckily they eventually did post a tutorial, so I was able to verify the parts. After running this idea by Joe (and him agreeing to it much to my surprise), we ordered the parts according to their list.

Unfortunately, our first attempt at making this fixture was a failure, for a couple reasons. One was that we bought 18 gauge doorbell/thermostat wire at Home Depot instead of ordering light fixture wire from Grand Brass. Though 18 gauge was the correct size, the insulation on the wires was inadequate since it was supposed to be used for very low voltage applications. The other problem was with the size of the body we ordered for the chandelier. When the One King's Lane folks originally made the chandelier, they used 26 gauge wire which is MUCH too small for this fixture. The 26 gauge wire uses smaller wire nuts which will fit inside the large chandelier body. However, the size of wire nuts needed to connect two sets of five 18 gauge wires are much larger and required the jumbo chandelier body. We had to re-order the part and get the bigger size. We also bought new wire from the Grand Brass website that had the correct insulation. Then Joe made the light a 2nd time! And it worked perfectly :)  I'm very grateful to have a husband who makes these things for me and who understands electricity haha. Though this probably wasn't the kind of electrical engineering he expected to be doing. Now we'll get to the instructions! (It's kind of like a recipe for a light fixture haha. And you can thank Joe for all the nice pictures!)

Here's what we bought (I've included the Grand Brass part number too):
(1) 8" x 1/8" IPS Hollow Brass Pipe, Threaded Both Ends (PIBR08-0X8)
(1) Flat spun unfinished brass canopy, 5" wide x 1 1/2" deep w/ 1 1/16" slip hole (CAS45)
(1) 1/8" Pipe pendant hanging cross bar set (CB208)
(5) 2" Solid Brass Cup to cover the sockets (CU578)
(5) Edison E-26 Porcelain Sockets (SO10045)
(5) 1/8" x 1/8" IPS 90 degree turns
(5) 4" x 1/8" IPS Hollow Brass Pipe, Threaded both ends (PIBR04-0X8)
(5) 10" x 1/8" IPS Hollow Brass Pipe, Threaded both ends (PIBR10-0X8)
(1) Five Outlet, 1/8" Jumbo Turned Cluster Body (BOJ5)
(20 feet) White 18 Gauge Fixture Wire (WI18AWMW)
(20 feet) Black 18 Gauge Fixture Wire (WI18AWMBL)
(1) 1/4" threaded brass plug (we actually got this in the plumbing dept. at Home Depot)
(5) 40 watt, clear glass G25 Bulbs (also from Home Depot)

First, Joe cut all the lengths of wire he'd need. Five pairs of white and black wire that would run from the socket of each arm to the main body. He figured out the size by pulling the wire though the tubes for one arm and then cut the rest to the same size.

Then he used scissors to strip a little bit of the insulation from the end of each wire (a little bit over half an inch or so). Though we have an actual wire stripping tool, Joe found that a plain pair of scissors worked better.

Next, he attached the black and white wires to the top of each socket. They're hidden under the medal plate in this picture. The metal plate actually has to be removed and and then reattached with the small screw. There is a better picture on the One King's Lane site.

After that, he placed the brass socket cover on, then threaded a 4"  piece of tubing to each socket.

Then he attached the elbows.

Then the 10" pieces of tubing were threaded on. He didn't completely tighten the tubing since it was difficult to tighten one connection without another one coming loose.

After all the arms were made, he threaded them all onto the chandelier body.

Then it was a matter of connecting all the black wires with a wire nut, and all of the white wires with another wire nut. He also included in these connections a 6th black and white wire that would run up the 8" tubing piece and be connected to our wiring in the ceiling.

The wire we used was a stranded conductor, but you can also get a solid conductor wire. The stranded kind has a bunch of tiny wires bundled together. This makes the wires easier to bend, but Joe said it makes the wire more difficult to connect to the bulb sockets and wire nuts.

Before complete the fixture, Joe tested the wiring with his multimeter. The first time we made this using the doorbell wire, the insulation wasn't enough and the current actually would have been coming right through the brass tubing! Meaning we would have been zapped big time if we would have actually wired it into the ceiling.

Finally, he attached the 8" rod and the fittings that would connect it to the ceiling.

I don't have a picture of us actually installing it but we used a crossbar piece that screwed into the lighting box in the ceiling. The lighting box was part of an overhead light/ceiling fan retrofit kit that you wedge between ceiling joists (like this). We made the hole for this with a 4" hole saw that attached to Joe's drill.

That's it!  We're thinking of making a variation of this for the dining room as well. You can be sure I'll keep you posted if we do! I hope some of you decide to try your hand at one of these, and if you do, please show me!

Oh, and can we talk real quick about how it's practically cold here tonight! I'm sitting here in the piano room with the window open and my feet are freezing! This time last year we were absolutely baking. Oh well, I shouldn't be complaining, it'll make for a nice 4th of July. I hope you all have a great holiday celebrating America's birthday!


  1. This looks great! I love to see the results of your creativity. Imagine what you could do if you bought a tubing bender. I'm looking forward to seeing it up close tomorrow night. See you then.

  2. I don't recommend anyone that doesn't have experience with electrical fixtures to attempt this! There are too many things that can go wrong. This is not a DIY project :/ You can't make this without knowing how to use a meter......

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