A couple of years ago on a trip to visit an old Uni chum in Melrose I saw a fine-looking lamp in a shop which was made from a 1970’s fire extinguisher with a plain, wide shade on top. I love to work out how to recreate things I’ve seen, so started looking for a vintage fire extinguisher on a popular auction website, and bought this one. It’s in relatively good condition and still has all the original parts to it, which is what I wanted. It’s a painted finish with a transfer on the front, so all it will need is a clean once we’re done with it.
To make a lamp we need to mount the lamp holder onto the top of the cap. The chrome cap houses the knob (you know, the one where it says ‘strike knob to operate’…..) and since we want a concealed flex, if we remove that then we will have the ideal route for the flex to go from the lamp holder down inside the extinguisher and to exit out the bottom at the side. Right then – attacking the knob with a hacksaw it came off pretty easily, leaving a nice clean hole.
At this point I also cleaned up the chrome cap with some Peek paste and a cloth just to see how well it would come up (who doesn’t love a wee bit of bling), but this would be better left to the end as I’m just about to cover it with dirty fingerprints. The threaded rod is …well….threaded so we need to ‘tap’ the inside of the cap so it can be screwed to the rod. TOOL TIME, FOLKS!!!! Thinking back to high school metalwork classes the pinnacle of my creative outputs was a letter opener which was screwed into a handle, and I remembered using either a tap or a die (I can never remember which) to thread the handle. A quick search of a popular marketplace website and I realise I can get me a tap and die set for under £20, so there’s now a 24-hour hiatus where I wait for a Marsbar-fuelled yoof to run the length of a giant warehouse, pick, parcel and post me said set.
It arrives, I open it and I get started immediately with the 10mm tap rod, and thread the hole; it is at this point that I make mistake number 1. Those of you who know anything about screws and threads will know that many different sizes of threads exist, and within those sizes there are also different pitches. Thus, a tap rod which is designed to tap a thread for a metric screw or bolt (known as M8/M10 etc) isn’t necessarily the same pitch as, say, a threaded rod you buy from a lamp spares shop. Did I check this before I got wellied into the chrome cap? Did I nowt! So, now we have a beautifully-threaded (at M10 x 1.75), shiny chrome cap which doesn’t accept the threaded rod (at M10 x 1) which fits into the lampholder. Clown. Resisting the urge to give up and leave the extinguisher as an ornament, I think my way around this, and so now I will drill the hole in the cap to 11mm and superglue the threaded rod to the cap.
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Now to work out how to make the lamp-y bit.
I ordered the parts I thought I would need from a lamp spares website, but you could perhaps get most of the required bits from your local DIY store. I ordered: flex, a lamp holder, a grommet for the hole where the flex comes out, a flex holder to stop the cable getting pulled out of the lamp by accident, a threaded rod to connect the lampholder to the cap, and an earthing connector. You can buy flex in pretty much any colour you want, but I wanted a classic look so opted for black.
To be continued…….