A few weeks ago, I bought two vintage lamps at the Goodwill Bins store for $3.
When I got them home, one worked like a charm and one wouldn’t turn on. (Goodwill had a testing station, but no light bulbs. What?) I was upset, because I love the art deco shape, the cool peach color, and the smoothness of the paint under the glass of these lamps. I wanted both!
Turns out, I didn’t need to worry. Lamps have very simple electronics. When you take one apart, what you basically have is the cord running up a tube from the base to the top, attached to a simple switch that the light bulb screws into. The switch is in a case that pops open to give you access. That’s it.
The cord has two parts. Each part wraps around a screw on the switch, which is then tightened down. Think about battery cables, only without polarity so it doesn’t matter which side of the cord wraps around which screw.
If you take apart the familiar switch casing (right), you’ll be able to take out the actual switch (left.) The screw you see facing you on the switch is where one side of the cord goes. The only tool you need is a flat head screwdriver.
A new lamp switch cost about $3 at Home Depot. It never occurred to me before, but lamp switches come in standard sizes–because light bulbs come in standard sizes. In the picture above, you can see Kevin tightening the screw on the wire. We wanted to make sure it was the switch that was the problem, and not the wire. If it had been a wire, Kevin would have cut the receiving end off a simple extension cord and striped the wires to replace the existing lamp cord.
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