How to make a Rustic Pendant Light Fixture
Make a simple and stylish hanging light
by Tom Stroup
If you’re looking for quick and easy home-improvement project with plenty of eye appeal, this is the one for you. This pendant light fixture is ideal for illuminating a kitchen island or a dining room table. I made this fixture from a piece of 4-1/2 x 4-1/2-in. pine timber that had been sitting in my backyard for many years and had acquired a rustic patina. Basically, I just cleaned off the dirt and installed the electrical parts.
You might not have a similar piece of weathered wood but there’s no reason you can’t adapt this design by using any type of wood old or new. However, weight can be a factor when hanging any type of fixture from an electrical box — lighter is always better, so steer clear of heavy woods. There’s nothing special about this fixture’s dimensions and you should size your fixture to meet your needs.
Materials and construction
A few basic hand tools (hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, hacksaw, wire cutters, etc.) and a drill/driver are all you need to do this project. Aside from a single length of 4×4 or 6×6 lumber, you’ll also need some 1/8 x 2 x 6-in. metal strips (to brace the strain-relief wire clamps) and the electrical parts necessary to wire the fixture. (See the drawing and list below for a complete details.) Bore a 3/8-in.-dia. hole through the center of the metal strip for the wire to pass through, and two screw holes on each side of the center hole. Remove any burrs or sharp edges around the 3/8-in. hole with a file or sandpaper.
The woodworking aspect of this project is simple and straightforward. First, mark the three locations where the wires will pass through the wood. Then bore 1-1/2-in.-dia. x 2-in.-deep holes with a spade bit or a Forstner bit. Now, starting at the center point, drill a 3/8-in.-dia. through hole. Be sure to keep the drill as perpendicular to the workpiece as possible and backup the exit point with some scrap wood to prevent chipping.
Doing this project’s electrical work can be accomplished by a DIYer, but it must be safe and comply with all state and local codes. Check with your local code authority for specific information. However, my attitude about electrical work is that when in doubt, call a licensed electrician. Wiring the fixture isn’t difficult, but connecting it into your electrical system might present some challenges.
You’ll need wire and sockets that are suitable for pendant lighting, and strain-relief wire clamps. These items are available at most hardware stores and home centers. Although the wire is meant to support a certain amount of weight, there’s a point where the fixture may require extra support. Be sure to follow the wiring instruction included with the light sockets.
Install the metal braces over the 1-1/2-in.-dia. holes with 1-1/4-in. screws; then run the wire through with a strain-relief clamp located under the brace. Now you can wire the sockets.
Hanging the light and wiring it into your electrical system may be a two-person job, so you might want to recruit some help. If you’re wiring into an existing electrical box, it must be able to support the weight of the fixture. Again, be sure to check the code requirements. The only step remaining is to install some decorative bulbs that enhance the beauty of your creation.
Materials and supplies
4×4 or 6×6 length of wood
2-in. wide L-brackets (to make braces)
Wire for pendant lighting
Sockets for pendant lighting
Strain-relief wire clamps
No. 8 x1-1/4-in. screws