Edison-type light bulbs are all the rage at the moment. These filament bulbs are made to give a retro appearance, especially when lit. They come in various styles of filament, including “squirrel cage” (which does what it says on the tin), and assorted bulb shapes too. They are meant to be left bare, the better to appreciate the warm, reddish light they give and the sparkly effect of the filament.
Now, while I admire the look of these Edison-style light bulbs, I’m not about to start replacing the efficient, long-lasting LEDs in my house with energy-guzzling filaments. A retro look is all very well but I can do without the retro electricity consumption. But while browsing around a branch of Clas Ohlson recently, I spotted some Edison bulbs that have LED strips instead of hot filaments. They don’t look quite the same as the real thing, but they’re pretty close and – get this – the energy rating of a 190 lumen bulb is just 3W. I bought one of the large (12.5cm diameter) globe-shaped bulbs, even though it has a European-style Edison screw fitting instead of a bayonet cap.
I plan to make a simple table lamp from a hardwood block, leaving the bulb exposed. I’ve bought a couple of metres of 3-core twisted flex covered in brown rayon, and a brown in-line switch. I found an old (1950s?) Bakelite 13A plug in my box of electrical spares in the garage. It was dirty and covered in small paint spots, so I gave it a good rub with a pan scourer (the type meant for use on non-stick finishes) and then polished off the scratches with metal polish. Now it looks much better and is a reasonable match for the modern switch.
All I need now to make this lamp is an Edison screw (ES) lampholder. I’m looking for a plain ceramic one, or one in brown plastic, that can be sunk into the wooden block so as to be invisible once the bulb is in place, but I’m having trouble finding anything suitable. There just aren’t many ES choices available in the UK, it’s only really European shops like IKEA and Clas Ohlson that sell ES bulbs here. One of the reasons that I purchased 3-core flex is to give me the option of using a metal lampholder if necessary – unlike a plastic or ceramic one, it would need to be earthed.
I also need to work out how to prevent the cut ends of the textile covering of the flex from unravelling. It will have to be cut for the switch as well as at the plug and lamp ends. Traditionally, I suppose that flex such as this would have been whipped with a cord in a matching colour, whereas the modern solution would be heat-shrink tubing or perhaps a small, wide, rubber band. I’ve bought a metre of heat-shrink from my local electrical merchant, just in case – I’ve wanted an excuse to try it out for years – but that will be Plan B. Plan A is whipping. I’m going to practise with brown cotton embroidery thread, in the absence of anything else suitable. I’m hoping it won’t be necessary to whip each of the three cores separately, but I have a nasty feeling that it won’t be possible to get it tight enough otherwise. Inside the switch I’ll only have to cut the live core that will actually be switched, meaning that that one will definitely have to be treated individually.