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My Knock-off of the George Nelson Wall Lamp.

The Actual George Nelson Wall Lamp.

Does Anyone need a wall lamp?  I needed a wall lamp and here is the one I made.  Of course it needed to be modern and of course it couldn’t be uber perfection like George Nelson’s.  Gotta have that Wabi Sabi.


A friend of mine had given me a very small slab of black walnut with a live edge and I thought that would be a good thing to use to muddle the sharpness of the Nelson aesthetic.  It’s like Nakashima and Nelson had a little lamp baby  (but it got the weaker genetic code from both – poor lamp baby).


Anyway, I also needed some pipe to form the arm of the lamp.  I can’t cold roll steel yet (or however they make shaped steel pipe) and I’m not strong enough to bend steel either, so I went with soft, pliable, easily found at Lowe’s copper pipe.  I also bought the lamp parts at Lowe’s but there is a much better selection of finishes online at The Color Cord Company (these are pricier and harder to work with though).  But, yet again  I was pressed for time by the all important slumber party that my daughter was going to have – like 11 and 12 year old’s really care if there is a set of  wall lamps flanking the daybed.  I had some oblong paper shades from ikea at the house, so that’s what I used for the shade.


I was really happy with how quick and easy it was to make and how simple and pretty it was.  You could easily make it look more refined and less rustic by using a different piece of wood for the plaque and finding brass or steel pipe that is u shaped for the arm.


Here are some more pics that show some detail and different views of the lamp.  The tools, materials and directions needed are below that. I hope you Enjoy!


  • wooden block about 4-5″ x 12-18″ and 1.5 – 3″ thick (I had one but you could have a piece cut at lowe’s from pine or if you do not have the ability to use a router or table saw to make a channel down the back for the cord the layering 3/4″ thick pieces of wood would work nicely.  I will explain in the how-to section what to do for this.)  You could really make the plaque any size you want and use something recycled for it like part of a table leg, or a wooden bookend, or maybe even a wooden candle holder.
  • copper pipe  – 3/8″ x 2′ copper pipe – I found it way cheaper than Lowe’s at an online supplier so here is the link.
  • Lamp Parts –  Lowe’s does not have what I used online so the links are to an online source.  You can get fancier (more expensive) cloth covered cord and sockets here but they are harder to work with for sure.
    • socket, cord and plug kit – this is made for making a bottle into a lamp but the rubber plug that comes with it is very handy to connect the threaded nipple for the socket to the copper pipe that has no thread.  This kit also comes with the threaded nipple.
    • in-line switch – this is redundant since the socket has a push switch but this is inconvenient so adding the in-line switch is more user friendly ( very easy to do – instructions are usually included).  you could buy a separate socket that is “keyless” but the socket came with the handy kit.


  • paper shade   – This is what I had from ikea.  The shape of mine looks a little different because I didn’t stretch the shade taught.
  • 2 1/2″ drywall screws OR toggle bolt (depending on if you are able to mount to wooden wall or stud or just drywall.   You need enough length on the bolt to go through 3/4″ of wood on lamp and then 1/2 – 3/4″ drywall and then into the anchor so 3″ long should suffice)
  • wood glue
  • sand and tape (only if needed – see how too section #6, salt may work)
  • Super glue


How To:

1.** If you are using the table saw or chisel method:  Get your piece of wood and and mark vertical center on the back.  Using the table saw cut a 1/4″ deep (set blade at 1/4″)  and 3/8″wide groove (make one blade pass directly center and two more on either side using the fence to set the distance which will depend on the width of the wood).  If chiseling then mark the sides of the groove and chisel out the channel.

2.**If you are layering Pieces of wood:  Take a larger piece of wood that is to be the visible part of the plaque (at least 3/4″ thick) then have two other pieces of wood cut that are the same length and 3/16″ less than half the width.  Glue the smaller pieces (these can be 1/4″ – 1/2″ thick stock) on the back of the larger plaque piece
to create a groove that is 3/8″ wide.  Put something heavy on it to weight it in place or clamp it and let it dry.

3. Use the drill and the 3/8″ spade bit to make the hole through which  the copper pipe will be inserted with the cord running through and into the groove and down the back of the lamp. On the top of the plaque and in line with the groove you just created, measure to the center of the thickness of the main part of the plaque (if your board was 3/4″ then this will be 3/8″).  Clamp the board to the side of the table end up.  Drill a hole at the mark that goes down 2″ (be careful to stay very straight so that the pipe will sit straight).

4.  Next, put the plaque face down and measure down 2 1/2″ from the top and along the groove.  Angle the spade bit about 45 degrees and drill from the groove up into the hole you just made for the pipe.  This is where the cord will come through and then down into the groove.

5.  Finish the plaque in whatever way you like.  I left mine raw and rustic.

6.  Now take the pipe and  and position in the hole (If you are bending at a hard 45 angle and not the soft curve like I did, then fill the pipe with sand or maybe salt and tape ends before this step so the pipe won’t crimp).  Now work the pipe into a “U” shape making sure the end holding the socket comes higher than the plaque and out far enough so the shade won’t hit the plaque.  Make sure the end is bent so that it isn’t angled but parallel with the plaque and the other end of the pipe ( or the shade will hang wonky).  You can draw an arc that is right for you on a piece of wood or large paper and follow the guidelines as you bend.

7.  Now thread the cord up through the groove and into the hole and pipe.  Push the cord until you have just enough hanging out of the pipe to create your knot before connecting to the socket (If it is a little long, you should be able to pull it back down the pipe a little later.

8. Generously super glue the pipe into the wood hole while the cord is still in it and positioned correctly.

9. Take the white rubber plug and fit it over the copper pipe, with the threaded side hanging down to take the nipple.

10.  Screw the nipple into the rubber piece as far as it will go.  Now pull the cord further if necessary in order to wire it to the socket.

11.  Take the base off of the socket and release the set screw.  Screw the socket base onto the other side of the nipple and set the screw.

12.  Wire the socket per the directions (google is your friend here if you need it – ribbed side of cord to silver screw, smooth side to gold screw and don’t forget the underwriter’s knot)

13.  Pop the socket into it’s base.

14. Lay the lamp on it’s back and make two 3/8″ holes that go in 1/2 the depth of the plaque.  Make them level with each other for aesthetics.

15.  Now depending on what you are hanging it on you will drill a pilot hole for either your screw or toggle anchor.  DO not make this too big.  Now affix to the wall.  I screwed mine to a chair rail so I didn’t need anchors.

16.  The screws are deep enough that you won’t see them but if this bothers you buy some little button plugs to pop in the holes and finish them to match the plaque.

17. Now assemble the ikea shade.  I left the bottom of the center wire structure off to make the shade more teardrop shaped.  Use the pliers to bend the part that it hangs by wrapping the cord.  Bend it enough so that it wraps the copper pipe just above the rubber stopper so that the ugly lamp parts are hidden.

Voila!  You have a wall lamp!

It took me longer to write this post than it did for me to make the lamp!   Geez Louise, Man.  It still probably isn’t detailed enough.  I’ll take more pictures next time.  More Pictures, Less Words.  That’s my new motto!

1 Comment
  • Robyn Kaylor

    November 30, 2016 at 1:04 pm Reply

    Love it!

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