DIY Pendant Lights

Submitted to Community Chat

I just finished a video tutorial for making your own pendant lights!  I should have mentioned that I used Rust-Oleum's glossy black spray paint for the lanterns and their silver spray paint for the baskets but I was trying to keep this tutorial as short as possible. 
Here's the YouTube link:  
 (all of my Adsense revenue is donated to no-kill animal shelters and rescue organizations so I'd so appreciate it if you'd watch!)

And here are the step by step instructions:

Pendant Lighting is so easy and inexpensive to make yourself, there’s no reason to purchase new fixtures at retail prices.  Start with a basic wiring set up and you can incorporate almost any type of DIY shade to perfectly coordinate with your style. 

You’ll need:

A wire cutter, wire strippers, and a screwdriver.

A pull chain socket, chain, light power cord, 2 wire nuts, a canopy, screw collar, and screw collar ring.

I’m using a pull chain socket and cord with a plug so those that don’t feel comfortable wiring their pendant directly into the ceiling can still use this tutorial.  If you are one of those people (not judging), you will not need the wire nuts, canopy, screw collar, and screw ring.  You’ll start by weaving your cord through the chain so that the two are integrated before you start wiring the light.

For those ok with attaching light fixtures, skip the chain and cord weaving for now.

Unscrew the pull chain socket and feed the end of the power cord through the hole in the top.

Make what’s called an ‘underwriter’s knot’.  Take the left side and loop it around and behind the right side.  Then take the right side and go behind, loop around, and through the left loop.  Pull to tighten.  This knot will keep the cord from pulling out of the connections you’ll be making. 

The cord has two sides – look closely to see which one is the smooth side and which one is ribbed.  The smooth side or ‘hot wire’ goes to the gold screw on the socket and the ribbed side or ‘neutral wire’ goes to the silver.  Loosen the screws, loop the correct exposed end around each screw, and tighten back up. 

Slip the top back over the knot and connection and then screw the other side back on to the socket.

For those of you wiring the light directly into your ceiling, cut the plug off and strip the end of the wire. 

Easy, right?  So what are you going to use for a shade?  As long as the item is not too heavy for the chain to support, it has the potential to work.  Here are a few ideas.

Obsessed with lanterns?  Bailey’s clearly not but you can turn your favorite accessory into a pendant.  You’ll need a lantern, a drill, and a quarter inch metal drill bit.  Drill a hole through the top of the lantern and run your wire up through it. Tie a knot in the cord so that the socket doesn’t slip back down into the lantern.  Attach the chain to the top of the lantern.  When you hang it later, make sure the chain is bearing the weight and not the cord.  I’m also using an LED bulb so it doesn’t get hot inside.

Have some wire baskets?  These can be turned upside down for an industrial modern shade.  Since the baskets have a metal bar dead center, I’m rewiring so I can go around the middle piece with the cord instead of tying a knot on the top.  Once the socket has been reassembled inside, attach the chain to the middle. 

Adore the wine barrel hoop lights?  Create the same look with 2 sets of embroidery hoops.  You’ll also need some wood stain and protective gloves, a drill, a hot glue gun, one of the long tightening screws from the embroidery hoop, and four small 90 degree brackets with accompanying screws.  You might also need two small screws with nuts.

First, stain the hoops for an aged look. 

Next, use the brackets to attach the tops of the hoops together so you leave a small square opening between them. 

Hot glue the bottom where the two hoops meet.

Squeeze your next hoop inside the two and align so that it sits at a 45 degree angle between the other two.  If your hoops sit tightly, you can hot glue.  Otherwise, drill a small pilot hole so you can later add the small screw and nut.

Squeeze the last hoop inside and align so that it sits opposite of the other 45 degree angle hoop.  Hot glue in place or drill your pilot hole.  Once all four hoops are together, add a screw and nut in both spots where the three hoops meet up.

Use the long screw that came with the embroidery hoop and place it back through its hole.  Run the cord up through the bracketed hole and loop around the long screw.  This will keep the socket and bulb from falling back down into the pendant fixture. 

Weave the chain onto the cord then attach to the long screw so that the chain holds the weight.


Once you’ve got your perfect pendent put together, you’re ready to install.  Here the caveat, though – please consult with a qualified electrician if you have any questions or don’t feel confident installing. 

Turn off the electricity to the ceiling fixture you will be working with.  Have a trusted helper hold the ladder while you remove the existing light.  You’ll also remove the hollow threaded pipe that should already be attached to the mounting bar in the ceiling.

Place the screw collar ring, the screw collar, the canopy, and the threaded pipe on to your cord.  Attach the top end of the chain to the screw collar. 

Run the cord up through the hole in the center of the mounting bar and pull back out. 

Check the wire again to see which side is smooth and which is ribbed.  You’ll attach the smooth side to the black ceiling wire and the ribbed side to the white wire.  Secure with your wire nuts and push the connections up into the box.

Screw the threaded pipe back into the mounting bar and push the canopy up over the hole so it sits flush with the ceiling.  Attach the screw collar to the threaded pipe and then use the screw collar ring to tighten everything in place.

For those not directly wiring, use anchors and hooks to attach to the ceiling and then plug into your wall outlet.