It’s finally here babes!… get ready because this teacup lamp tutorial is a doozy…but in a good way… prepare yourself for an in-depth tutorial.
Now before we start let me say… I’m not the first person to have made a teacup lamp and I’m sure that I won’t be the last… this tutorial how I figured out the best way to make a stacked teacup lamp… techniques can always be developed and tweaked!… but I hope this helps give you the foundation to build your very own stacked teacup or even teapot lamp!…
Take your time and read through – print this out and have it handy to refer to as you work through making your very own lamp!… then be sure to visit the Feathering My Nest Facebook page to share a photo of your lamp!…
Tools & Supplies to rustle up to follow along this Teacup Lamp Tutorial:
- Brown paper
- Teacup and saucers X6 regular size (I like the six teacup and saucer height) – matching, non matching… it is up to you… have a cute teapot?… then throw it in the mix… the possibilities are endless
- Deep saucer or bowl – this will be the very base of the lamp
- Mini saucer – to cap off the top teacup, if you can’t find a mini saucer use a regular size one or flip the top teacup… again the possibilities are endless!
- Teacup and saucer mini size (this will make a fun lampshade finial if you can find a miniature set) or use a little sugar dish!
- 5 Minute epoxy with mixing tips
- Combination square – to mark out the centre on the bottom of the saucers
- Sharpie marker – sharpie will not wash away while you drill underwater
- Cordless drill – drilling in water… use a cordless drill
- Diamond grit hole saw drill bits – various sizes – I’ve been finding 1/2″ and 3/8″ have been working best
- Sink or Shallow container of water
- Lamp Kit with lamp rods, nuts, washers, socket, wiring and lampshade harp
- Loctite – to secure parts to the lamp rod
- Clamps X2 – for holding your lamp rod onto a countertop surface if it needs to be shortened
- Hacksaw with metal blade – for cutting lamp rod if it needs to be shortened
- Kitchen towel – to keep lamp rod and clamps from shifting while you shorten your lamp rod
- Metal file – to clean up your lamp rod after shortening
- Wire strippers
- Screwdriver – for attaching wires to socket and tightening the socket set screw
- Light bulb
- Long hex nut – Optional – to secure your custom final to the top of the lamp
- Pliers – Optional – to hold the harp while you are rethreading the lampshade shade screw to accommodate a custom finial
- Tap and die set – Optional -to rethread the rod at the top of the harp to accomoadte the long hex nut
1. Brown paper your work surface… as always… and secure it into place with the tape. This will protect your work surface from scratches from the tools or metal rod, as well as keep the epoxy off of your work surface.
3. Using the quick setting epoxy attach the teacups to the saucers to prepare the sets to be drilled through. Line up the teacups bottoms up. Have your saucers all lined up and ready to received the epoxied teacups. Attach the mixing tip to the epoxy and then slowly depress the plunger to start the flow of epoxy. Don’t press too hard or you will get a flood of epoxy. Take it slow. Apply epoxy to all of the teacups that will be attached bottom down to each saucer. Once you stop using the epoxy you will need to change the tip the next time that you want to use epoxy. The epoxy sets in the mixing tip when you stop using it. If you run out of mixing tips have some disposable cups and popsicle stick on hand to mix additional epoxy. Try to plan your gluing to that you complete all work with the two supplied tips.
It always helps to have a second set of hands when you are applying epoxy. One person can apply and the other can place the cups onto the saucers. This can be done by one person though so don’t fret!… just apply the epoxy to all of the teacup bases and work quickly to flip over all of the teacups onto their saucers.
4. Once the epoxy is set turn all of the teacup and saucer sets over so that the bottom of the saucers are facing up. Use the combination square to find the centre of the saucer and mark an X in the exact centre of the saucer with a Sharpie. Other marker types will wash away while you are drilling under water. Be sure to also mark out the centre mark on the bottom of the saucer or bowl that will be at the very bottom of your lamp and the mini saucer or teacup that you plan to use at the top of the stack of teacups.
Line the edges of the combination square up against the circle on the bottom of the saucer and make a line across.
Turn the combination square so that it is perpendicular to the first mark and make your second line across the centre of the saucer.
5. Next we will drill through all of the dish ware so that we can pass a lamp rod up through the stack. To drill through your teacups and saucers you will need special drill bits. To make this time effective, and to reduce the chances of the cups and saucers from breaking you need to use diamond grit hole saw drill bits. I found my set at Canadian Tire… and I’m already on my second set of drill bits. They will dull over time. Determine which size drill bit that you need to use to make the hole that will accommodate the lamp rod with some wiggle room in case you need to attach two pieces of rod with a coupling nut to make your rod longer.
Pull the drill bits out and put them up against the rod and wiring to see what sizes you will need to use. you will likely need a smaller hole on your very bottom saucer or bowl for the power cord to pass through.
6. Get out a shallow container and put some cool water in it, or fill up your sink partly so that your teacups and saucers are just covered in water. When drilling through cups and saucers the drill bit should be kept cool and lubricated to prevent cracking and breaking of the piece that you are drilling. Be sure that you are using a cordless drill, and make sure that you aren’t submerging your drill in the water – just the drill bit. The drill bit set that I picked up came with a plastic guide to help keep the drill bit steady when you are starting your hole. Two sets of hands are helpful here too but again not necessary – this can be done by one. You have to hold the guide down when you start drilling to prevent it from shifting around. Once the hole is started you can remove the guide and the hole will guide the drill bit down through.
Line the correct size guide hole over the centre mark that you made on the bottom of the saucer.
Hold the guide down firmly so that it does not shift around while you are drilling
Press firmly but not to hard on the drill to help it down through. You will get a feel for this quickly as you come out through the other side of the saucer and then the teacup.
7. Drill the two individual dishes that you will use for the stack top and bottom. For the bottom saucer you will need two holes… one for the lamp rod and a second for the electrical cord to pass out through. Drilling the hole for the electrical cord can be awkward and this is where a second set of hands come in handy. Once everything has been drilled through make sure that you dry everything off really well.
8. The lamp rod will strengthen the lamp and it is the path through which the lamp wiring will pass up through the lamp to the socket at the top. You can buy long length of lamp rod to cut down or you can pickup a lamp kit with two shorter rods in it that you connect together with a coupling nut. When you put the rod together with the coupling nut use Loctite to ensure that the rods stay connected. You also want to put a large washer, locking washer and nut on the very bottom of the rod – these hold the rod up against the bottom of the bottom lamp dish. Again secure the nut with Loctite.
9. Now test fit the teacups over the rod that you have prepared. Here we are also going to get the measurement for the lamp rod – I find that I usually need to trim the rod after this test fit. Pass the lamp rod up through the bottom dish and then begin to stack the teacups on top of the bottom dish to the desired teacup stack that you like. While you are stacking the cups and saucers pay attention to the the connection points from the bottom of the saucer to the top of the next cup to ensure they’re fitting together securely. Watch for the teacup handles as well to ensure that they’re not brining up in the bottom of the saucer that you’ve placed on top of it… confused yet? I hope not!… you’ll see once you start stacking and arranging and rearranging your teacup stack!
Arrange and rearrange until you are happy with your cup stack with your little saucer or upside-down teacup on top.
10. Pull the lamp rod up tight to the bottom saucer and thread on the top lamp parts – large fancy washer, coupling nut, harp holder and then measure the height of the bottom of the soccer threading and mark your line a thread or two below this measurement. Mark your line with a sharpie so that you have a good line for cutting your rod down.
11. Remove the teacups and lay them down so that you easily remember the order you want them stacked – or take a photo with your phone to help you remember. We want to cut on inside of the line that you prepared – we want the rod to be two or three threads shorter than required. If the rod is too long you will end up seeing threading and you will have to trim the rod again for a nice clean look.
Lay the rod along the edge of your table or countertop, on a tea towel and clamp the rod into place to keep it from rolling away while you are sawing the rod down to size. Clamping the rod can be tricky… clamp it from two sides at the corner of your table or counter. Place your saw a thread below your mark and begin sawing. The metal filings created from sawing are hot so hold a damp dishtowel underneath to catch the filings. The rod will also get hot on the end so be sure to handle it carefully until it has cooled again. Learn from me and my lamp rod burn!…
Use at metal file to clean up sharp burs and also clean up any damaged threads. Before you proceed test the end that you’ve shortened with a nut to be sure the threads are intact.
12. Restack your cups over the rod and place on the lamp rod hardware at the top – decorative decorative washer, coupling nut (collar), harp holder, and this time the socket to ensure that the rod has been cut to the right length. I know… this is torturous BUT you don’t want to start gluing you cups together and then discover when you get to the top that your rod is too short… this is no fun whatsoever. If its too long then remark and recut. If it is too short then pull then you need to start over with a longer piece of rod. Once it is the right length take all of the teacups off of the rod again.
13. Put the bottom dish onto the rod and run the wiring through the small hole from the outside and then up through the lamp rod. Be sure to pull some extra wiring out at the top, we will pull down any extra later. Now you are ready to stack your teacups and epoxy them into place!
14. Put a new tip on your epoxy and epoxy each cup and saucer set as you place it down over the rod. Move slowly while putting epoxy around the teacup edge and have a damp paper towel on hand to clean up any drips. A second set of hands can be very helpful here too as you want to work quickly to epoxy and place each piece into place and keep it straight as your build your stack. As you go be sure to wipe any epoxy drips and make minor adjustments as you will find that things will slip around a little as you move up the stack. Once everything is glued… LET. IT. SET… don’t get impatient here!… you’ve made it this far! Have a glass of wine to celebrate getting to this point and let the epoxy set fully before you start moving the lamp around. You are in the home stretch now!
15. Pull the rod up tight to the bottom of the stack and drop on the fancy washer. Place a drop of lactate on the rod above the large fancy washer and place on the coupling nut. The coupling nut is used here as a decorative collar. Place on the harp holder and then screw on the lower portion of the socket.
16. Split the wires apart buy pulling them away from each other and strip the ends to ensure that the wire has good contact with the screw that will be wrapped around inside of the socket. Screws inside the socket?!… yep. Slide up the metal on the top part of the socket and you will reveal a screw on either side of the socket.
17. Tie an electricians knot (also known as an underwriters knot) in the split wires to prevent the electrical cording from being pulled down through the lamp.
You will notice that one of the two wires is ribbed and the other is smooth. The ribbed wire is the neutral wire and it has to be connected to the neutral terminal which is the silver screw. Wrap the wires around their screws and tighten the screws with a screwdriver.
Pull any excess wiring down from the bottom of the lamp, and place the socket cover back over the socket. Once the socket cover is back on press the top of the socket down into the socket base until it locks into place.
Be sure to tighten the set screw at the base of the socket.
18. Now babe here we are!… you’ve made it to the end of this teacup lamp tutorial!… its time to see how you’ve done! Screw in a bulb and plug your creation in! Put the harp into the holder and attach your shade. When you get he shade on it may be a little wonky – I’ve found that the harp and shade usually need a little pushing around to get everything in its correct place.
AND VOILA! LAMP-O-LA!
Come to the Feathering My Nest Facebook page and share a shot of your creation! I can’t wait to see!… and if you have any questions about this teacup lamp tutorial please feel free to ask!… leave a comment or fire me an email! Lacey@FeatheringMyNest.ca
OPTIONAL: Now here are a few steps that take this teacup lamp tutorial just a little further… if you want to create a custom finial for the top of your lamp that holds your lampshade into place keep reading…
Find a little teacup or teacup and saucer set. Drill through the dish ware with the drill bit that is just slightly larger than the special long hex nut. I found this hex nut at Home Depot in the loose bolt bin aisle. I’ve only been able to find this nut in a coarse thread… and the lamp rod threading is fine… this means that we need to rethread the rod at the top of the harp. This is a two people job. One person needs to hold the rod still with pliers while the other person retapps the rod. Pick the tap that corresponds with the size of the thread in your nut. Screw the tap down over the harp rod slowly, backing it off after every half turn to let out the cuttings. Continue to do this until you get to the bottom of the little rod. Test fit the shade and cup with the long nut to see if the rod needs to be shortened… yep sometimes it does. If it needs to be shortened do the same as when you cut down your lamp rod and clean up any roughness or damaged threads with your metal file. Drop the nut into the teacup, place the shade over the rod and then drop the nut down inside of the ring at the centre of the lampshade. Tighten the nut and the pressure of the teacup pressing down will hold the lampshade onto the harp!… BAM!
Have at it loves!
Can’t wait to see what you make!