Beautiful & Functional: How to Make a Samovar Lamp

We got this amazing antique samovar from Morocco and even though I’d like to think of us as the type to lounge around sipping tea from a samovar I decided to put it to realistic use for our living room’s much needed lighting project.  It turned out more amazing then I expected.  The warm detailed brass combined with the sheer size of the lamp makes it both exotic and luxurious.  Each unique trait including every nick and dent you find in antique samovars make it that much more special.

{Below: A gorgeous samovar from Pure Style}

These step-by-step instructions can also be applied to other things you may love around the house that you’d like to convert to an everyday functional lamp.  For those of you who are not yet ready to venture on this exciting project; here’s a little thank you for stopping by.

Materials Needed:

  1. “Make – A – Lamp Kit” (found in any hardware store)
  2. Lamp Pipe Kit (the pipe is also called a nipple – the long tube cavity that holds the wire and supports the bulb set)
  3. Latex gloves (optional but these can protect you from getting painful metal splinters)
  4. Drill
  5. 5/16 drill bit (slightly smaller then the pipe)
  6. Hammer
  7. Measuring tape
  8. Heavy duty shears* (only necessary if you have to cut out something extra to create a solid base)
  9. Aluminum sheet* (found in any hardware store)
  10. Adjustable wrench (not absolutely necessary but very handy)
  11. Wire strippers
  12. Light bulb
  13. Long metal nail
  14. Screwdriver with different heads

*If the harp’s bottom is smaller then the samovar’s top lip than it’s probably a good idea to add an aluminum strip for extra support.  I didn’t necessarily need one but added it anyways.

Step 1: Identify the base

Normally this would be the very bottom of the piece you’re converting into a lamp.  In this case, there was a metal flap that was used for letting heat come in and out.  The flap wouldn’t be secure enough or provide a clean drill so I removed the entire thing.  Start by trimming with shears and then finish off by grabbing the entire piece and pulling it out with the wrench.

Step 2:  Determine pipe length

Measure the distance between the very top of the samovar’s lip to the samovar’s base that you just decided on.

Step 3:  Unassemble samovar

Step 4: Create a pilot hole

Before drilling, you’ll need to create a tiny hole that will keep the drill from slipping.  Secure the nail on the screwdriver (to get extra length) and tap a hole with the hammer in the very center of the base.  **Do this sitting down with the samovar between your legs.  Otherwise, hammering on a hard surface can dent a weak or narrow part of the samovar.

 Step 5: Drill

  • Drill with the 5/16 drill bit in the very center of your base where the pilot hole was created.
  • Once the hole has been drilled, re-drill and make the hole slightly larger by putting pressure evenly on the sides of the hole so that the pipe fits securely.  **Do this gradually and check frequently with the pipe to avoid making the hole too large.

Step 6: Thread the lamp cord, insert and secure pipe through the base

Once you’ve thread the cord inside the pipe, insert pipe (wires up) from the base.  Secure with the washer and nut provided in the pipe kit

Step 7:  Assemble without going past the socket cap

Step 8: Wire

  • Strip 4/5th of an inch of insulation off the wire
  • Tie an underwriter’s knot
  • Match the hot wire to the hot terminal and the neutral wire to the neutral terminal by tucking the wire behind the terminals’ screws the way you’d tuck your hair behind your ear and tighten screws with the screwdriver.  **Usually the ribbed wire is the neutral wire and terminals are differentiated by one being brass and the other silver.

Step 9: Secure socket interior and finish assembling

  • Insert socket interior into the socket cap while pulling cord downwards from the bottom end
  • Assemble remaining pieces












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6 Responses to Beautiful & Functional: How to Make a Samovar Lamp

  1. Mia says:

    Thank you so much for the post, it was interesting reading.

  2. Jesse says:

    great diy!!! this project turned out so well, i hope you do more posts like these:)

  3. Aly says:

    I LOVE the lamp. It is super gorgeous!

  4. sedeer says:

    That’s a really lovely lamp and a great way to repurpose an antique. Very nicely done! Are you planning more projects like this?

  5. Veronica – Nice to see you back! And a beautiful lamp!


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