How to Rewire a Vintage Lamp


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Vintage lamps have all the aesthetics, but sometimes lack updated wiring to make it an efficient light source. Not to fear, rewiring a retro light is a great project for any DIY beginner. Study up on the diagrams and steps below before updating your next secondhand find.

Here is a helpful illustration to better get to know the parts of the lamp:



You will need:

  • #18Cord (available at your local hardware store)
  • Screwdriver (phillip’s head or flat depending on your lamp)
  • Push-through socket and shell (optional depending on your lamp)
  • Detachable Harp (optional)
  • Wire Cutters with wire stripper
  • Fishing line or strong thread
  • Electrical tape

Your hardware store should sell all the pieces in a lamp kit, but you may not need all of them depending on the lamp you’re rewiring. It’s up to you!

Step 1: Find your lamp.
Bad news: This is the hardest step in this project. Good news: It’s also the most fun! Scour flea markets and vintage stores to find that a lamp with “good bones” to update.



Get inspired with vintage lamps of all styles from Krrb seller Lise Vintage Lighting like this Hollywood Regency lamp.

Step 2: Assess the condition of your lamp.
Does your lamp need a new socket? Are there any particular fire hazards? Always be better safe than sorry.

Step 3: Make sure your lamp is unplugged before you do anything.
Check again. Check one more time. If you’re sure its unplugged move on to the next step.

I really love this citron lamp from Caniche’s Krrb Corner. If it hadn’t already been expertly rewired, I would make this lamp my weekend project.



Step 3: Separate the base of the lamp from the external pieces.
Remove top of harp and pull the socket up from the base of the lamp. Lay the harp aside and carefully detach the socket, giving you two halves. You should see a knot underneath the socket.

Step 4: Detach the wires.
Unscrew the wire from the socket using your screw driver. You may notice that one screw is silver and one screw is brass. At this point, attach fishing line or thread to the old cord and thread through the bottom of the lamp. This will make it easier to rethread your new cord (as shown in this helpful and hilarious instructional video. Know what I mean, ladies?!)

Step 5: Clean up.
Now is the time to get into all those nooks and crannies where ancient dust is hiding. Doesn’t that feel better?

Step 6: Rethread with new cord.
Attach the new cord to the fishing line and rethread. String through socket bottom. Pull out an extra 8-10 inches at the top, you can always readjust the length later.

Step 7: Tie a knot, strip the wire and reattach to correct screws.
There will be a ribbed and smooth side to your cord. Pull the cord in half and tie a knot. The ribbed wire will attach to the silver screw and the smooth wire will attach to the brass screw.

Step 8: Reassemble your lamp.
Screw in light bulb, reattach harp, or use a new one if necessary.

Step 9: Cut cord to desired length and attach plug.
Though you will not have to tie a knot to reattach the cord to the plug, bear in mind the ribbed wire will attach to the silver screw on your plug while the smooth wire will attach to the brass screw.

Step 10: Plug in lamp.
Sit back and admire your work!

Happy fixing!


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