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How To Re-Wire A Vintage Lamp

By Rachel

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Welcome! Today’s project is going to teach you how to re-wire a vintage lamp!

The Backstory

I go to my local thrift store on a weekly basis to check for antique and vintage pieces. This particular day, as soon as I walked in the door, this milk glass lamp was sitting in a box right inside the door. The best part? It was a red tag and that color happened to be 50% off, making it only $2.99! It did not have a lamp shade attached to it but this white linen shade from Target goes with the base perfectly.

Vintage Lamps

But, vintage lamps are, well, old, and usually in need of re-wiring. The cord that was on this lamp was fraying in the back, exposing the wires and we can’t have that! Sometimes people shy away from buying antique or vintage lights because of the daunting task of re-wiring, but I’m here to tell you to buy that old lamp because it’s not as hard as you think it is to put in a new cord! Follow along as I teach you how to re-wire a vintage lamp. Be inspired!

*Please make sure nothing is plugged in while you are working on this project. It’s electrical work so please be safe!*

This post contains affiliate links. That simply means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Materials For How To Re-Wire A Vintage Lamp

  • an old lamp
  • a wiring kit
  • scissors
  • wire cutter
  • a lightbulb
  • a screwdriver
  • a lampshade (if your lamp didn’t come with one)


1. Remove the old cord.

 Start by removing the lightbulb socket from the lamp. The old cord goes right through the middle of that part and the cord is what you want to replace from the lamp.

All you need to do is cut the cord, as seen in the picture, to be able to pull the old cord out. You can discard the old lightbulb socket because you will be putting a new one on.

2. Remove all the parts of the re-wiring kit from the bag. 

There is a handy instructional guide in the kit tells you what all the different parts are for and then you can just follow along with the steps, but it goes something like this.

3. Thread the new cord up through the base of the lamp.

Pull the cord through the top.

4. Spread the cord apart a bit in the middle. 

This helps give yourself a little more room to work with. You don’t have to pull it too far, 2-3 inches should be good.

5. Strip back some of the cord covering with a wire cutter.

This exposes a few centimeters of the wiring inside and will make it easier to attach to the new bulb socket.

6. Tie an Underwriter’s knot in the cord. 

This knot helps to make sure that the cord doesn’t pull free from the socket mounting screws. Here is a YouTube video on how to tie an Underwriter’s knot.

7. Screw the wire tight to the new socket.

Put the exposed wires on either side of the socket and secure down with the corresponding screw heads. Make sure there is no excess wire sticking out from under the screw heads. If the wire is too long, you can cut that off with the wire cutter.

8. Attach the socket shell.

The socket interior is what you just screwed the wires to and this is the part that covers all of that securely. Push the socket shell down and it should click firmly in place.

9. Test the wiring.

Next, screw a lightbulb in and then plug in the cord to make sure the new wiring is all working properly.

10. Attach the lamp shade.

This kit comes with a harp, which is sometimes used with old lamps that have finials at the top of them. But, since this lamp does’t have a finial, there was no need to use the harp. I just attached the lamp shade like you would on any other lamp.

11. Display the pretty lamp!

Creating A Vintage Home

You have learned a new skill and know how to re-wire an old lamp! I hope this encourages you to try more projects that might be a little intimidating.

As you can see, old things are so full of beauty. When you take the time to re-work an old piece, you are giving it new life and a chance to live on for many more years.

signature from The Antiqued Journey

Check out more DIY projects here!

Let me know in the comments how your lamp project turned out OR what kind of vintage lamp you would like to have.


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Hello I’m Rachel.

I’m so glad you are here! Old things are my jam. Antique malls and thrift stores are my happy places.

Here on the blog I love to share my excitement, knowledge, and ideas about all things antique and vintage. Let’s journey together!

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