Light It Up: Turn an Old Kerosene Lantern Into an Electrified Wall Sconce

Light up an old lantern in a unique way. By wiring an old camping or railroad lantern, you can safely move it inside to brighten up your rooms. Simple steps and materials make it easy to turn these cool objects into light fixtures with a history.

Antique Lantern Wiring

Antique Lantern Wiring

Light up an old lantern in a unique way. By wiring an old camping or railroad lantern, you can safely move it inside to brighten up your rooms. Simple steps and materials make it easy to turn these cool objects into light fixtures.

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Materials Needed

lantern
heavy duty degreaser
scrub brush
drill with 1/2" drill bit
1" threaded lamp rod and hollow finial
bolt for threaded rod
candelabra socket with threaded base
extension cord or lamp cord
electrical connectors
wire cutters
candelabra bulb
galvanized floor flange – 1/2" diameter (optional)
2" galvanized pipe – 1/2" diameter (optional)
galvanized elbow – 1/2" diameter (optional)
(4) 1" wood screws

Disassemble and Clean Lantern

Open up the lantern and remove then discard any excess parts from the hood. Remove the glass. Clean the lantern thoroughly with heavy duty degreaser. Note: This may take a few attempts to remove traces of petroleum build-up. Allow the lantern pieces to dry completely, then reassemble.

Antique Lantern Wiring

Antique Lantern Wiring

Open up the lantern and remove and discard any excess parts from the hood. Remove the glass. Clean the lantern thoroughly with heavy duty degreaser. This may take a couple of attempts to remove traces of petroleum based build up. Allow the lantern to dry completely and then reassemble.

Prep for Electricity

Using a 1/2"drill bit, drill a hole in the top of the lantern hood in the center (Image 1). Insert the threaded lamp rod and secure on the inside with a lamp rod bolt (Image 2). Secure on the outside with a hollow finial. Screw the candelabra socket to the lamp rod on the inside of the hood using the attached threaded base (Image 3). Note: If you will be hard-wiring your lantern, cut both ends of an extension cord. Discard the plug and outlet ends. If you will be plugging your lantern into a wall socket, remove only the socket end of an extension cord.

Add Electrical Wiring

Feed the cut cord through the finial on the outside of the lantern hood into the inside of the hood. Pull about 6" of the cord through, then tie a knot in the cord close to the lamp rod (Image 1). Split the end of the cord and remove about 1/2" of coating from both sides. Remove 1/2" of the coating from the socket wires. Twist all of the ends tightly between your fingers. Insert one of the cord wires in an electrical connector and crimp the connector tightly around the wire (Image 2). Insert one of the socket wires in the opposite end of the electrical connector and crimp. Repeat for the other wires. Tuck the connected wires up in the lantern hood.

Add Wall Hanger

If using the galvanized hanger, feed the free end of the cord through the elbow, pipe and flange (Image 1). Screw all of the pieces together. Pull the cord to the desired hanging length. Tie a knot in the cord to keep it from sliding. Remove excess wire. Split the end in half and remove 1/2" of coating from both sides. Twist the wires tightly between your fingers. Ensure that the power is turned off to your installation spot at the electrical panel, not the wall switch. Attach one side of the free cord to the white wire from the wall using a wire nut (Image 2). Attach the other side of the cord to the black wire from the wall using a wire nut. Tuck the wires in the box apart from each other.

Finishing Touches

Add the flange to the wall to cover the box and wires using 1" wood screws (Image 1). Add a candelabra bulb to the socket (Image 2) and enjoy the nostalgic glow (Image 3). Note: Alternatively, if you do not wish to hard-wire your lantern, leave the plug on the extension cord. Hang your lantern from a hook and plug it into the wall socket. 

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