I really think this is cool, but what is it with lamps?

It all started with a couple of marine electrical boxes that I found at Demxx. I didn’t really know what I was going to do with them and actually came home and showed Heather a picture of one of the boxes at which point she immediately sent me back out to get them. I love my wife. I got the boxes home and started in on one of them.

Still not quite having a fully formed idea about what I was going to use them for, all I really wanted to do was to see what was underneath all the peeling paint. I scraped away at the top layers and then fired up my random orbit sander. I’m not exactly sure what kind of paint was on there, but just in case I did my scraping and sanding outside in a Rubbermaid tote and made sure I wore my respirator. Better safe than sorry.

Scraped and ready to sand. Ooo look what’s inside!
Sanded down

Heather and I decided it would look cool if I just scraped and sanded down all the loose paint layers and left it as is. I sprayed a couple of coats of clear lacquer on and called that done. I pulled out the guts from the box and tried to figure out what I should do with it.

Cleaned up and looking for ideas.

As hard as I tried, I could not shake the idea that it would make a really cool lamp so I gave in to the inevitable. A lamp it would be. As I looked at it though I realized it could be more than just a lamp. I decided it would also make a pretty nifty USB charging station if I could figure out how to install a USB port in the lower opening. I searched through some of my electronic bits and pieces and came up with an apple mini charger block from one of my previous phones. It fit in the opening nicely but I needed some way to mount it.

This USB charger did the trick

I found a PVC cap and cut the end off, then cut a square hole in the centre of the cap, epoxied the charger through the cap and then epoxied the cap to the opening. Problem solved. It’s hidden by the brass cap until needed. Neat!

I  was looking for a way to make some feet for the box and thought that some brass bolts would be a nice addition so I went up to the hardware store to see what I could find. While I was there I looked for a power switch but couldn’t track down what I needed so I put that on the back burner while I got the feet prepped and installed. The brass bolts and nuts were nice and shiny but I was looking for a kind of used industrial look so I dumped them in a mixture of vinegar and salt and let them soak for a while then pulled them out and torched them. Gave them a nice used/weathered look. After that, I drilled the box and mounted the feet. Now to track down a power switch.

Soaking the brass
Feet installed

I found a toggle switch along with the lamp wire and some copper tubing for mounting the lamp socket at the builder’s supply store. I installed the toggle switch in the front cover with no problems and started searching for the lamp socket and shade/cage that I was thinking of using for the lamp assembly.

Box ready to wire

Had to resort to Amazon.ca but I found some antiqued copper lamp sockets and a cool wire cage that would work for the shade. Once the pieces arrived I finished the lamp assembly by making a lamp shaft from copper pipe and soldered the pipe to the brass fitting at the top of the box where the old electrical cabling came in. I heated the copper tubing and cap to give it that aged look and then wired up the socket and switch assembly.


The final touch was to install an edison type bulb and install the wire shade. I did a quick check to make sure that the wiring was all good to go and tested the charging with my old Ipod (a sacrificial Ipod if in fact I had it wired incorrectly). No problem. No flames or electrical shorts or breakers popping. Job done.


I still have one more box left. If I can honestly think of something other than a lamp to make with it I will but lamps seem to be front and centre in my design mind right now.

Matt just walked in said saw the lamp. Flipped it on and said “Sick”. I asked him if he wanted it. He said “Yes” and went back to bed.  The highest praise.

And Heather’s just smiling quietly to herself…





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