Turning an Old Cabbage Shredder into a Lamp
- Written by Daniel Livingston
For Christmas, I had gotten my wife a box of miscellaneous lamp parts. It was time for a change in our living room as the three lamps in there (two floor lamps and one table lamp) had been there for 20+ years (maybe longer). My wife started liking the "industrial" look and that's pretty darn close to steampunk in my opinion. I guess you could call it modern steampunk. The box of parts contained an old green/white porcelain coated lamp shade I found at an antique co-op store. The shade is the type you would find in an old store or factor. I also purchased some 3 inch pulleys, a nickel-plated lamp base and some reproduction antique cloth wrapped electrical cord with an old-style plug on the end. I told her that she had to design a lamp using these parts. I'd build it, but she would have to design it.
Well, about two months after Christmas, the box of parts was still sitting there so I suggested that she check out Vintage Wire and Supply and look at some of the many project photos they had there to give her an idea of the type of lamp she wanted. The pictures are a little tricky to find but they are there peppered amongst the different parts. If you see a part you like, be sure to click on it and look at the different pictures associated with the part below the main picture. Many of the pictures show how they can be used in a lamp or lighting fixture.
She decided on a wall mounted lamp, one that she could place near the corner of the room. It would replace the floor lamp that so desperately needed replacing. She came across several different styles of wall lamps pictures and then spotted one that incorporated an old cabbage shredder board, just like one that our daughter had given her a while back.
First, she wanted to darken up the wood a little on the cabbage shredder. I forgot to get a picture of it before it was darkened. She used Tung Oil and applied two coats. It came out great. The oil even darkened the metal shredding blades nicely and gave them a deeper look. I've never seen one of these cabbage shredders in action but I have seen them in antique stores several times so they must have been popular back in their day. In our kitchen, we have a more modern mandolin style vegetable shredder. It makes shredding veggies so much easier than chopping, I just forget to bring it out when I need it most times. So, she had found the lamp style she wanted, now it was just a matter of gathering some more parts to complete the job and putting it together.
Then it was off to the big box store to pick out an old timey Edison style light bulb. We found a neat one that was also LED and Dimmable. It's important when purchasing LED bulbs to know if they are dimmable or not. If you want to be able to dim it, you had better get one that states dimmable on the packaging. Next, we moseyed over to the black pipe aisle. I grabbed the two floor flanges and elbows that I knew I needed. The length of the straight pipes was not known at this time so I gathered several 5, 6, 7 & 8 inch pipes. A few T's' were needed as well.
We wanted to be able to adjust the length of the power cord so that the height of the lamp shade could be raised or lowered. Knowing this I picked up a few metal eyelets large enough for the electrical cord to go through. But I needed some type of clamp that I could place on the cord, just below the eyelet to hold the Lamp at the desired height. I walked up and down the electrical isle looking at all the smaller part and spotted an adjustable bushing. It was called a Split-bolt and is normally used to connect two high voltage wires together inside an electrical box. It was brass; it looks neat and could be tightened by hand.
Now the tricky part was to mount the main section to the wall. We did this before attaching the lamp & cord as that could be done after mounting. We had previously determined that where we wanted the lamp was not directly on a wall stud, so I planned accordingly when I made the lamp. I drilled a hole straight through the wood in line with the upper left mounting hole of the top floor flange as well as the corresponding lower left mounting hole of the lower floor flange. That gave me two holes that I could use to attach the lamp to the wall. I found some neat drywall mounts (toggle bolts) that took 1/4 inch bolts which resulted in the same size head as the wood lag screws that I was planning on using for the other three floor flange holes. Those were only an inch long and required a much smaller hole in the wood.
So, I got out the level, held the lamp to the wall and had my wife do her thing. "Up more, to the left. OK, right. Move you head so I can see it. Down a little, Ok there!". Now that its final location was settled, I marked both holes and drilled into the sheetrock and installed the snap-off type toggle bolts. I was impressed with the installation of these toggle bolts as I had never used this style before. You first slip the metal "toggle" bolt in the hole and pull it up against the inside of the sheetrock. Next you slide the plastic collar down the plastic zip tie until it settles in the hole you just drilled. Then you snap off the plastic that extends beyond on the collar. Now, holding the lamp in place I threaded the top bolt through the floor flange hole and into the hole in the wall. It took a few tries to line it all up but the bolt threaded into the toggle bolt smoothly. I left it a little loose until I inserted the lower bolt. Once they were both in I snugged it all up nice and tight. They will certainly hold up our lamp with no problem.
Final assembly of the lamp required me to loop the electrical cord over the two pulleys and through the eyelet mounted to the lower left corner of the cabbage shredder. When installing it, make sure you thread your electrical cord through your eyelet first before terminating one of the ends. Then install the split-bold on the underside of the eyelet and gently hand tighten it. You don't want to tighten it too much as you could compress the copper wire and create a hot spot in your cord. It does not take much to keep the wire in place and hold the weight of the metal lamps shade assembly. I installed the AC plug and then there was light. Here's a closer photo showing more detail of the cabbage shredder and associated hardware.