Saturday, October 3, 2015

DIY a Copper Pipe Chandelier

DIY a Copper Chandeiler
We have so much going on right now it's slightly crazy. We're actually making progress on the house, work is super busy, and Will has mastered climbing out of his crib which has thrown our sleep schedule into a bit of a tailspin.... oh and I just my third trimester 

 I finally took some time to organize some of my photos enough to actually show you guys some of what we've been up to. We're waiting on building permits to start work on the second floor, so right now we are working on projects on the first floor that do not require permits. If you want to see real-time progress on the house (and not wait around for me to find time to write) you can follow along on our Instagram or Facebook pages!

One of my favorite quick fixes is replacing cheap lighting with custom fixtures. Our dining room light was a pretty basic (and not that pretty) chandelier that we didn't even bother to center over the table when we moved in, so for the last few months, one of the seats at the table was the "hot seat". 

I knew for awhile I wanted to use copper piping to make a new chandelier for the dining room. I played around with a lot of different designs and finally landed on a simple octagon shape that mimics the shape of the dining room table. It's a pretty easy fixture to put together so if you want to make your own, you'll need:
  • 11 Copper Tees (1/2")
  • 8 Copper 45 degree elbows (1/2")
  • 2 10 ft long 1/2" Copper Pipe
  • 1/2-in x 1/4-in Copper Threaded Adapter Fitting (female)
  • Metal Swag Light Kit
  • 8 Porcelain Light Socket with a Die Cast Cap
  • Lamp Wire
  • Tape Measure
  • Pipe Cutter
  • Wire Cutters
  • Electrical Tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Marker
  • 2 Part Epoxy
I laid all the fittings out on the table to get an idea of how big I wanted the chandelier to be. Measuring between two fittings gave me the length of pipe I need to cut (which for us was 7"). Since I was making a polygon on the outside, all the pipe lengths between fittings had to be the same. So, I marked out one of the 10' long pipes in 7" increments.

If you have a pipe cutter, this next step is pretty easy. You place the pipe in the pipe fitter and screw it down until the metal blade makes contact with the pipe. Then you rotate the pipe cutter around the pipe multiple times. Each time you go around, you tighten the pipe cutter until the pipe finally separates.

Repeat as necessary. After I cut all my exterior pieces, I dry fitted the outside of chandelier. This allowed me to figure out the spacing I wanted for the central row. I ended up using 9" long rods on the outside and 8" rods on the inside so that the central two lights wouldn't be exactly in line with the ones on the periphery.

Before gluing, I also wanted to make sure I like the light sockets we chose and that the die cast cap would actually work the way we wanted it to.

These porcelain sockets are pretty awesome. The nipple on the base of the cap fits right inside the copper tee and then the socket itself screws onto the cap. It really has a nice look with the copper and it made wiring everything significantly easier.

 The last few pieces were the central rod and the loop at the top to hang the chandelier. Once I was happy that we had everything and that it all fit together correctly, everything came back apart for wiring.

Wiring something with lots of bends and turns can be pretty tricky so we decided to break it down into sections. The sections were basically going from one tee to the next. We wired the sections before we epoxied the connections so we had a little more flexibility and then carefully epoxied each section, making sure the wire stayed where we needed it to be.

We used a two part epoxy (which we also use on all of the rope pulls we make) instead of soldering the joints to give a cleaner look to the piece. Once each section was dry, we epoxied the remaining joints and epoxied in the die cast caps to the top of the tees.

The main wire came in through the central pipe. The top of the pipe got the threaded adapter so that we could use the light kit to attach the hanging loop. We had to cut down the threaded rod provided in order to get the loop to be flush with the adapter but no other modification was required.

Nate finished by wiring the porcelain sockets and attaching them to the caps and then hanging it up!

For now we have the inexpensive white globe lights in but I'm ordering some LED Edison bulbs for the fall/winter.  Overall, it cost just under $100 for all the parts (including the white bulbs) and we're really happy with final look!

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  1. that's awesome, such a great diy. enjoy your new light!

  2. This is really great. Can you share how you handled the wiring? It's hard to tell how that was put together from these photos. Thanks!