Welcome to Part 3 of the Ultimate DIY Lighting guide. In part 1, I shared some fun ideas with wood, and in part 2 I gave you some ideas on create a custom fixture with all sorts of different objects and materials.
So now that you have an idea of the fixture you’d like to create, it’s time to talk hardware. There are 3 basic types of hanging ceiling lights: cord, downrod, and chain.
Corded pendants are generally the most budget friendly (you can easily find them from about $8 and up) and offer the most variety. They come in fun colors, or with cool, braided cords, and you can also find ones with switches on the side to give some a bit of a retro feel.On the downside, corded pendants can hold the least weight, because the cord is supporting the shade. Also, be careful when shopping that you are not buying a plug-in pendant, which are very popular right now. Although they can be converted to hardwired pendants, you would need to purchase additional hardware.
Corded pendants are easy to use. First, pull the cord out of the canopy – sometimes there is a screw that tightens around the cord to keep it from slipping, or there may be a set screw, like the little white one in the silver fixture below. Once you loosen the screw, you can pull through cord through the canopy. Then thread the cord through your shade, back into your canopy, and tighten the screw.
Downrod pendants are slightly more expensive than corded, but the options are generally more limited. They come in standard colors like bronzes and silver toned metals. Of course, spray paint can really come in handy here!
The downrod supports the weight, taking the strain off the electrical cord, which funnels through the downrods. Therefore you can hang a heavier shade. Most fixtures come with several downrods, including a couple of smaller ones, so that you have leeway in hanging the pendant at your desired height. The rods are threaded and simply screw together.
One thing to consider: the diameter of the downrod is a little wider than that of the cord on the corded pendants, meaning you will need a bigger hole in your shade and anything else you are stringing on to your pendant.
To use a downrod pendant, unscrew the downrod and canopy and pull cord out of downrod. Thread the cord through your shades, then back through downrod and canopy. Screw downrods back together and then to canopy. Instructions provided for your specific fixture will make it a piece of cake. You can see in the pic below how I threaded the cord up through the hole in the shade and then through the short rod connected to the light socket. The threaded nipple at the top of the downrod will attach to the next rod, and so forth.
Chained fixtures also come in limited options, and although spray paint may be helpful, you need to consider the color of the cord, which is not hidden as in the downrod pendant.
Chained fixtures come with two fixture loops, one that screws into canopy that attaches to the ceiling and one that screws into light fixture via a threaded nipple. The chain attaches to each of these fixture loops and can be adjusted in length to achieve the desired height of the fixture. The electrical cords weave through the chain. Because the chain supports the weight of the fixture, you can use heavier shades compared to the corded pendant.
To use a chained fixture, unscrew the fixture loop from the light then pull the cord out of the chain and fixture loop. Funnel the cord and nipple through the shade, then reattach the fixture loop to the nipple.
The first pic below shows the fixture loop, and the second pic shows the top of the threaded nipple going through the hole in the shade where it can screw back into the fixture loop.
In this specific example, the nipple wasn’t long enough to reach through the hole. The simple fix was to replace the original threaded nipple with a longer one. They are readily available at your local hardware store.
One problem with chained fixtures is price. They are difficult to find new in a low price range. Sometimes you get lucky, like I did with the one below that I found on clearance for $11 to use in the X light.
If you aren’t getting lucky (in the lighting department at least :), check out your thrift stores for a used piece that can be spruced up. Our local Habitat for Humanity Restore never fails to have plenty of these in stock. Here are a couple I’ve picked up.
The fixture inside the first one was simple and basic, and could easily fit right into a modern fixture. All it would take it a little spray paint. I also spray painted the second fixture. To give it a bit of a cleaner feel, I used wire cutters to cut through and remove the little wax drip cups at the bottom of each fake candle. If needed, you can easily purchase the replacement candle covers.
I hope this has helped guide you to a fixture. Are you eager to pull it all together? Next I will show you how to drill through your delicate materials to get them threaded onto the fixture!
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