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DIY Pendant Light: Bright New Life for a Rusty Birdcage
January 2, 2015

DIY Pendant Light: Bright New Life for a Rusty Birdcage

A couple years ago, we found a rusty birdcage at a salvage shop. We buy lots of crap (old boards, mostly). The guy we buy crap from sometimes gives us crap. So, this birdcage was free. Some people have punch cards for the local deli. We apparently belong to an unofficial loyalty program at the local junk store. Hurray, us.

We thought it would make a great pendant light.

I ordered a few parts online, and assembly was quick and easy. The parts listed below aren’t the exact same as what you see in the photos. I selected the closest items I could find to what I used two years ago.

  1. Socket: $6.50
  2. Steel canopy: $5.00
  3. Collar loop: $0.55
  4. Strain reliever: $0.85
  5. Cloth-covered, 2-strand wire (approx. 2′): $2.80
  6. Decorative Edison bulb: $5.26
  7. 18″ chain: $1.98
  8. Birdcage: $0.00

TOTAL: $22.94 (plus shipping & taxes)

I rusted the canopy and chain with a 50/50 solution of bleach and vinegar. I soaked the chain in a dish full of the solution and used a spray bottle to spritz the canopy. I wetted them both, rinsed, dried, and repeated several times until I was happy with the amount of rust.

Assembly was simple: I attached the wire to the socket, which is secured by a plastic strain reliever (the socket and bulb dangle within the cage).

Birdcage Pendant Light | Socket & Strain Reliever | Hammer & Moxie


The birdcage and collar loop are joined together by the chain, and the collar loop is connected to the canopy.

Birdcage Pendant Light |Canopy & Collar Loop | Hammer & Moxie

I loosely wove the wire through the chain, about every other link, and fed it through the collar loop, connecting it to the in-ceiling wiring with wire nuts. Add a decorative bulb, and that’s it.

Birdcage Pendant Light | Hammer & Moxie

It’s more interesting than a pendant light we might have bought at the store and costs far less. Our favorite detail: the shadow patterns it casts across the ceiling:

Birdcage Pendant Light | Shadows | Hammer & Moxie

If you want to tackle a project like this yourself, you should have at least a rudimentary understanding of electrical work (or recruit a friend who does), and note that the parts you need may vary from what is listed above, depending on your cage (or whatever you’re using as a shade).

Have fun, and if this post inspires you to make something awesome, we want to see it! Post it to our Facebook page, or drop us a line in the comments below so that we can get in touch.


4 Responses

  1. Where do you buy your lighting supplies listed in this blog? I have searched so long i am about to give up. either the prices are crazy or i have to buy from several different companies to get all of the parts i need.

    1. I had the same problem and spent entirely too much time researching parts and prices. I’d find the perfect part for the perfect price on one site only to find that another needed part was twice as expensive as another site. Ultimately, I bought everything from two sites: http://www.mylampparts.com & http://www.grandbrass.com. I originally bought cloth-covered wire from http://www.sundialwire.com but later discovered that Grand Brass also carries that (and I could thus consolidate shipping costs).

      Best of luck. I know it’s a headache to compare so many different sizes and styles of so many different parts, but I’m quite pleased to have something homemade to show for it.

  2. This is an amazing idea! I’d never thought of using a birdcage to make a light like this. Does it darken the lamp’s light much? I could see this being great in our living room, but we unfortunately need the light in there often so I want to make sure it wouldn’t darken the room too much!

    1. Thanks, Jordan! The cage doesn’t affect the output much, though it does cast a patterned shadow (which is kind of cool). As far as light output goes, a bigger concern might be the type of bulb(s) you feel comfortable using. Since the bulb is very much on display, we used a single, vintage-looking, Edison-style bulb, but I’m not sure you can find those above 60w (or LED/fluorescent equivalent). Even in the small guest bedroom in which this fixture hangs, a single 60w bulb is a bit on the dim side. (We use two table lamps to supplement the birdcage pendant.) Of course, you can use any style of bulb you want, or you could use multiple bulbs. Say your living room is a couple hundred square feet; you’ll probably want several bulbs lighting that space. I’d just figure out how many lumens you think you’ll need for your particular living room and plan your fixture accordingly.

      Here’s a helpful article for planning your lighting: http://blog.1000bulbs.com/how-many-lumens-do-i-need/#.VSP7ShP6xUM.

      And another for calculating your lighting needs for each room: http://www.maximlighting.com/fpage_lighting_need.aspx.

      Good luck! And if you do make a fixture similar to or inspired by this one, we’d love to see it when it’s done!

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