how to wire a lamp {Ikea “Jonsbo Orod”}

I came up empty-handed when I searched the internet for information on rewiring Ikea’s Jonsbo Oröd table lamp.  So, internet, this is my gift to you: complete instructions.  I found this lamp sitting on the ground next to my beloved Dumpster (context) with a broken dimmer switch and a slightly battered shade.  $7.00 worth of lamp kit (next photo) restored $50.00 worth of lamp.  Totally worth it if you ask me!

Plus, I acquired a new skill in the restoration process.  Rewiring a lamp is not hard.  I should know: I had to do this one three times, but I’ll get to that.  Here’s the pretty glass base with the old lamp kit removed.  I had to cut the cord to get it out.  I hope it goes without saying but…unplug the lamp while you do all these steps.

Ikea Jonsbo Orod lam base

Here’s the General Electric lamp kit I bought at WalMart.  This would work great for a thrift store or garage sale lamp too.  Any lamp that’s not in working order can be like new for under ten bucks, with a smidge of sweat equity invested.

seven-dollar GE lamp kit

Here’s the thing about the Jonsbo Oröd, though.  It has a piece that most lamps don’t have.  I don’t know what the name of it is, but it was covering the lamp nipple.  (I know.)  So how about we call it the lamp bra?  That thing was in my way.  It was screwed on REALLY tightly, and because of how cozy it was with the harp bottom (those vertical metal pieces) I was afraid to twist too hard because I really didn’t care to lose any skin during this project.  After lots of patient searches for other lamp disassembly tutorials, I decided lamp bras are not common.  I would have to deal with this using my wits alone.

plastic covering lamp nipple

“Wits,” in case you didn’t guess, is code for “brute force.”  I tore that bra to shreds with my pliers.  I would have just gripped the edges to twist the whole piece loose, but the plastic was too soft to withstand twisting.  Removal became the only option.  When I had cleared enough room for the pliers to grasp the center portion, then I had room to twist the thing loose without jeopardizing my skin.  I had to tap into a deep reserve of patience to complete this step.  I actually wondered if this one obstacle would render the whole project impossible.

pliers removing plastic cover to lamp nippleBut at last the part I needed was exposed.  Some sort of red waxy stuff filled the top grooves, which explains why the plastic piece had been so hard to remove!

original lamp nippleIt also explains why the new socket cap sits crooked.  The threads weren’t completely…threadable.  I did my best.

cock-eyed baseNext I fed the cord through the silver cord-cover original to the lamp.  (It did not come in the $7.00 lamp kit.)  I poked the cord through the socket cap…

threading the cord thru the cover

…then measured about three inches so I knew how far to separate the halves of the cord.  I had to use the tips of a pair of scissors to start my rip, being careful to keep the scissor blades in the shallow groove between the plastic coatings.  You don’t want any wire exposed, except at the very ends where it’s already exposed when you buy the cord.

splitting the wire

Then I tied the “underwriter’s knot.”  It sounds official and in the diagram it looked intimidating, but after muttering a string of prepositions to myself I managed to complete the knot without any major difficulty.  I didn’t notice until I looked at this photo, but my instructions had something “importent” to tell me about safety.  (“Don’t force a polarized plug into an outlet it doesn’t fit,” is basically what that section says.)

underwriter's knot

Moving on!  It was time to wrap those bits of exposed wire to the screws on the socket interior.  Here’s where I admit that I’m literal to a fault.  I had no trouble wrapping the first wire clockwise around the protruding screw on the side of the socket interior.  I tightened the screw then looked for another screw on the opposite side.


Nope.  No screw.  Again I started to panic just a little bit.  My lamp kit was defective!  They had sold me a dud pack that was missing a screw!  So much for my quick weekend project!

no attachment for wire on other side

But wait.  What was this “extra” screw on the back of the socket interior for?  No screw where there should be one, and a screw where there should not be one…at least according to the instructions that I was clinging to like a lifeline.  In my own defense, I didn’t want to slap together something that was going to catch the apartment on fire.  Knowing my limitations (by which I mean my utter lack of electrical training) I wanted to follow the instructions exactly.  But I happened to have another lamp all pulled apart–it’s been sitting behind my desk for, um, months?  I keep meaning to get back to it but there’s a metal part on that one that I can’t get off.  Aaanyway.  That lamp also had one side- and one back-screw.  So I copied.  Wrap one wire clockwise around each.  Tighten the screws.  *Note: your instructions probably specify which wire should wrap around which screw.  In my kit the ribbed wire wrapped around the silver screw and the smooth wire wrapped around the brass screw.  Just a detail to pay attention to.

wires wrapped on back and side

Gently tug the cord from the bottom to take up any slack and get that big knot nestled down a bit.  Then snap on the socket shell.  You really have to push to get this baby to pop into place.

switch cover popped into place

I wanted to check my work before I put the whole lamp back together.  Here’s how it looked with all the pieces assembled…and…

first assembly lightbulb on

…there was light!

first assembly lightbulb on

What I sort of completely forgot was that I couldn’t just drop the whole assembly back into the glass base.  So I had to unscrew the lightbulb, pop off the socket shell, unwrap the wires from the socket interior, untie the underwriter’s knot, remove the socket cap, and pull out the cord to start over.

second assembly with cord thru post in glass base

Then I had to feed the cord through the hole in the side of the glass base, thread the cord (now split!) back through the cord cover and out the top of the glass base, and slide on the silver cap that makes the base look finished.  This was also unique to the Jonsbo, not part of the lamp kit.

cap on top of glass base

Then on went the socket cap, in went the underwriter’s knot, on went the wire wraps and down went the screws.  Over went the socket shell and…

second complete assembly

…BAM!  Light’s on again.  But want to guess what I forgot?  Oh me, oh my.  Remember how I exhausted my patience reserve at the beginning of this project with the lamp “bra?”  You know what that means, right?  When I noticed the silver cord cover listing weirdly sideways inside the glass base, I got testy.  I had to take everything apart yet again to install a washer I forgot about.  Lovey’s the one who first removed it because he had the strength to twist it loose.  It goes inside the glass base above the silver cord cover.  It’s the piece that ensures the cord cover and lamp shade don’t list lopsided like so:

lamp assembled with cock-eyed shade

So I guess I shouldn’t say this project was quick and painless, but it was simple.  (The problem was that I was too, a little bit.  Buh-der.)  The struggle and frustration were amply rewarded, though.  Now that I’ve managed an electrical project I feel more like a real DIYer and not like “just” a crafter.  The wall above the new/old lamp is to be the subject of an upcoming post.  Bumblebees, dragonflies, beetles–oh, my!


Ready to see what all this work amounted to?  I can’t wait to show you!  First things first.  My friend Karen, known for sewing things other people can’t or won’t sew, took my muffin tin of paper circles home with her.  A couple days later she brought me this box.

box with tissue paper and chains of waxed paper circles

She left all the circles connected but grouped them in chains of four, six, and eight.  (I specified how many of each I needed.)  Here’s a shot to show how the chains looked when I lifted them out of the box, just in case any of you would like to sew your own.

waxed paper circles linked by thread

This worked for Karen because she didn’t have to stop and start her sewing machine every four to eight circles–at least as far as I know.  It worked for me because all I had to do was snip the threads and get ready to glue.  Here’s the best way I could think of to accomplish that: I took the stripped lampshade and turned it small-end-down on top of a floor lamp.  Then I held it in place with the finial that holds on the lampshade this lamp normally wears.

wire lampshade frame, upside down, anchored to lamp stand with finial

I glued on the short inner strands first, reasoning that it would be a pain trying to attach this layer after the long outer layer was hanging down in front.

bottom row of circles glued in place on wire frame

When I did move up to the wider circle, I first glued on one layer of eight-circle strands.

base layer of circles around top of frame

Then I went back over the same area and glued six-circle strands in between all the eight-circle strands.  The catch was that I had to leave room for the ceiling hooks that would eventually allow me to hang this fixture.  I used twist ties to mark three places on the lampshade so I’d  know where to leave room for the hooks.  I just glued the six-circle strand lower in those three places to leave the frame exposed.

twist tie tied to metal frame to mark where frame will rest on ceiling hooks

After some time hot gluing, snipping threads, and double-checking my ceiling hooks, I was able to do what I’ve waited…a while…to do: hang this baby up and flip the switch!

faux capiz chandelier hanging and lit

Here’s an in-context photo for ya.  I painted the oval mirrors purple, painted the side tables red, and got a new bedspread.

Lovey's half of the room with capiz

I also purchased the first accessories chosen specifically for this room: two bud vases from the flower shop.  They were labeled “natural gourd” vases.  The gourd part makes sense but I’m not sure they look very natural.  Anyway, I’ve admired them for months so I decided to make them mine.

first accessory--"gourd" bud vase

Here’s how it’s coming together in the room.  I want to add new drawer pulls to the side tables, replace the brown curtain, and find twin lamps, but other than that this wall is complete.

bed, mirrors, tables...almost finished

After that I’ll move on to the other side of the room.  I have a shelf to paint and a few other small changes to make before I think about art.  That’s the hardest part for me.  I have to mull it over for a while.  Everybody start pinning cool ideas on Pinterest, okay?  Thanks in advance!

getting there

Now that the secret’s out about my latest bedroom project, I want to show you the bedroom itself.  It’s gone through a few stages during our marriage, all of them consisting of blue and neutrals, by which I mean lots of brown.  After a while that got old.  Here’s the blank canvas I started with:

bedroom with brown curtain and bedspread, oval mirrors, brown bedside tablesA bookshelf served as a bedside table for me, but I preferred the less-clunky vintage sewing table on Lovey’s side of the bed.  The oval mirrors will bring better symmetry to the look once they’re painted to match.  The curtain and bedspread could use a dose of color.  So we begin.

While checking in newspapers at the library, I read that a local department store was having a home goods sale.  Bed-in-a-bag for $50?  Yes, please!  This set came with a skirt, two shams, two throw pillows, and, of course, the bedspread.  Lovey and I laid it out on the display bed in the store (with permission!) to make sure we liked the set and not just the photo on the bag.  It played nicely into our plan to incorporate plummy purple, crimson red, and vivid orange into the bedroom decor, so we bought it.  But the lighting at home is not like the lighting in the store.

brown curtain, gray, white, & purple color blocked bedspread, red side tablesAfter Lovey remarked multiple times that the purple looked more like brown in our room, I knew I had to grab my receipt and try again.  Brown was exactly what I was trying to avoid; no sense trying to convince myself, “But it’s purple!”  He was right.  I could have tried to fiddle with the lighting, but come on–who wants their bedroom lit like a sales floor?  Might fix the color but it would kill the romance.

Here’s what I came home with the second time.  It was a bit more expensive: $60 and I only got a comforter and two shams.  But throw pillows and a bed skirt can come later.  They’re not essential–and look what a difference this color makes!  Now we’re getting somewhere!

spice orange bedspread with red tablesInto that context we will soon insert what I hope is the most gorgeous light fixture of all time.  (I’m feeling optimistic.)  To get ready for the day I can bring home my sewn strands of circles and glue them to their base, an old lamp shade frame, I went ahead and put hooks in the ceiling to hold the base in place.

stripped lampshade hooked to ceilingThis is what it looks like from directly below.  The next photo shows what it looks like from the side, which is how it will be viewed most of the time–and how it will reflect in the giant mirror that now rests on the bookshelf at the foot of the bed.  That just might be the detail I’m most eager to see!

stripped lampshade hooked to ceiling, side viewHere’s another shot with some wall for perspective.  I don’t know about you but I think the all-ceiling shot above is kind of perspective-flattening.  I thought I’d throw in a little closet door to spice things up.  Are you getting a sense of it now?  I bet at this point it’s beautiful only to me–but that’s because I see what it will be.  Now to coordinate with a friend who has a sewing machine….

stripped lampshade hooked to ceiling, side view with context

Okay, parting shot: all the current elements in place–bedspread, shams, painted side tables (awaiting more sanding with wetordry sandpaper and more coats with some kind of amazingly glossy red paint); and light-fixture-to-be.  It is a sweet dream, indeed.

bare shade hanging over bed with new bedspread