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Most people don't realize this, but electric lamps are horribly manufactured, grossly overpriced and a general waste of money.

Lamps, generally speaking, are nothing more than a façade that holds a light bulb socket in place so a bulb can be screwed in. On a basic level, an incandescent lamp has been made from the same stuff -- wire, switch and socket -- since it was invented.

As a result, making your own lamps is easier than you'd think, requiring a rather small amount of hardware, the kinds of tools that are most likely somewhere in your toolbox already and a wee bit of creativity. Nearly anything can be made into a housing unit for a lightbulb, including a wide variety of household appliances. But out of everything in my kitchen, nothing I've tried makes a better lamp than a blender.

I learned three valuable lessons when tried to whip up this wunderkind: One, the smell of singed hair is nearly impossible to get out of a cramped New York City apartment. Two, the circuit breaker is a marvelous, life-saving device. Three, anyone can turn any old blender into a table lamp that looks totally dope.

Before you get started, it might be worth checking out Fix-It-Yourself: Lighting & Electricity, from Time-Life Books. Granted, it's not the gripping read that "Patios and Decks" is, but you'll get the general idea of how to avoid a painful home electrocution. These instructions aren't always literal. Not every blender is the same, so you might have to improvise something to make it work.

Attention You: Here's the disclaimer we need to put up so you don't follow these directions to a T and blame or sue us when you end up dead. The Black Table is designed to entertain and inform, not give you the skills you'll need to enter a career as an electrician. Therefore, by following these directions, you are making these blender lamps at your own risk. The Black Table advises you to seek out a full understanding of how electricity works before starting a project. Do not learn a deadly lesson the hard way.

  Stuff you need to get:
  • A Blender. (Not shown.)
  • Ten (10) feet of electric cord with an attached plug on the end.
  • An electric tester. (Not shown. Badly needed.)
  • Electric light socket.
  • A switch.
  • Two (2) wire caps.
  Tools you should probably have:
  • Needlenose pliers.
  • Wire strippers.
  • Lightbulbs.
  • Electrical tape.
  A very awesome thing to own:
  • Cordless Black and Decker 12-volt Firestorm drill.*
  * -- I only endorse products I think are absolutely perfect and should never be tempered with (Her Holiness, Diet Coke, is one.) and the Cordless Black and Decker 12-volt Firestorm drill, while good, isn't one of them. Yes, the drill can screw and unscrew anything as gently or as hard as you want with this bad ass torque feature. It's moron-friendly, so anyone can use it, the battery lasts a real long time and it comes in this neat black case. I've never used the sander attachment and dangerous-looking jigsaw, so while this can't get my official seal of approval, it was worth mentioning as a very awesome thing to own.  

More than a psychotic ex-girlfriend, more than credit card debt, the one thing I attract and cannot seem to rid myself of is old roommate debris. So about five years ago, after an old roommate left me two or three margarita blenders that had heard Jimmy Buffett for the last time, I decided to do something with the junk.

I thought those blenders could make good lamps and I vowed to teach myself how through the magic of the Time-Life series of books. With only my crude Time-Life wiring skills and an utter lack of tools at my disposal, I nearly electrocuted myself the first time I tried putting one together.

I was trying to teach myself something or other involving switches and I didn't wire them properly or something. Honestly, I don't know and I can't remember much of the incident or September 1986 as a result. Once I plugged the blender in, a sharp bolt of juice zapped me, the fuses blew and the next thing I know, the whole house was dark and smelled like burnt Me.

Over time, I got pretty good at making them from nearly any type of blenders, but newcomers should stick with the plastic, crappy 1970s variety. They're the ones used in this picture, and they're a whole lot easier to drill and glue than metal is.

And one last thing. Don't be all needy and clueless and literal about the directions. You may need to improvise and the directions may not always line up. Keep pushing forward. That's why they invented fuseboxes and circuit breakers.


STEP ONE: BREAK THE BLENDER BASE. What you're looking to do, right at the beginning, is emasculate that blender. (Oh, and set aside the top pitcher part, until later.) Your mission is to hollow out the blender, so you basically have the outside shell and some buttons. 1. This is the base of the blender. 2. The fan-looking thing is the motor, which is going to be real heavy. Gut the blender mercilessly, removing the motor and circuitry out however you can, using caution not to break anything. 3. Then you'll have an empty shell, for the most part.



Keep the blender intact! Don't go breaking the thing into itty bitty pieces. Remember to save the buttons and whatever held them in place, like in the picture. You need to put this mess back together and make it look like a blender. So don't go all numbnuts and start throwing greasy, 40-year-old blender bits around the living room. It will start to stink. Lord, how it will stink.

  STEP TWO: PUTTING THE SWITCH IN PLACE. As I said earlier, not all blenders are the same. There are loads of switches that do all kinds of things and you can make this without a switch, even. Pretty much, the goal here is to: 1. Drill a hole into the plastic housing of the blender, so you can 2. Screw in that little switch you bought. 3. Making sure to keep the wires on the inside, okay?  
  STEP THREE: LETS START WIRING. This is where the magic starts to happen, where you create the electrical vein that runs into the switch that powers the lightbulb. 1. Grab the cord with plug and the wire strippers. (Remember to run the cord so you can put the unit back together.) 2. Cut one half of the cord only, splitting the wires. 3. Strip the rubber casing from the wire, using the strippers.  
  STEP FOUR: WIRING THE SWITCH. If you haven't totally screwed up, it should be rather clear that you have four wires staring you in the face. 1. Connect the cord wires with switch wires, twisting the exposed metal together. 2. Screw on the little plastic caps you bought. 3. And then tape them for safety. Why? Because even if you totally screwed up everything else, the electricity can't jump through electrical tape (which is why it's called "electrical tape" and not "hockey stick tape") and kill you. The finished product can be seen here.  
  STEP FIVE: SOCKET TO IT! Once you've wired the switch, it's time to wire the socket. 1. Put the unit back together and leave the cord hanging out. 2. Grab that cool-looking socket, which breaks apart. 3. Socket go here. 4. See that screw? Wire go there. 5. Run the cord through the base of the socket and 6. Take the wire ends and wrap 'em around the screw. Then tighten the screw and mash the top of the socket into the bottom. It should hold if you push hard and if it doesn't, use electrical tape around the bottom. The whole death thing again.  

STEP SIX: CREATE YOUR OWN PUNCHLINE. You're almost there, so don't get all punchy and fuck it up now! 1. Since you've got the wire, switch and socket, you've technically got a lamp. Congratulations. 2. Put the blender top back on, running the socket up through the bottom. Anyone who has ever cleaned a blender should understand that the base easily unscrews and the tines come out. This step can be tricky, but by pulling the cord tight and wedging or gluing the socket in place, you're cool. 3. Screw in a lightbulb. Make up joke.

STEP SEVEN: DOES HEAVEN REALLY EXIST? If you think you've done everything right and used enough electrical tape, then by all means, plug in the blender and flip the switch. If you did everything correctly, then you'll see a bright light eminating from a blender, as seen below, and feel the warm ooze of satisfaction. But if you got it wrong, you'll see a different kind of bright light and feel like Estelle Getty on PCP. Your bad!



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