Tap handle switch for Edison Lamps

Not being an electrician by any stretch, it took me quite a while to figure out how to make this work. Not to mention looking a little deranged in Home Depot by asking for the ‘impossible’ part!

As it turned out (or on?), the magic ingredient  is one thin little washer that fits perfectly on the switch and then inside the pipe. I don’t even want to try a guess the odds on that! But it worked!

Click here to read the post  ‘how-to’ for the rest of the lamp!

switchStep 1

Position the washer as shown above and then tighten up the hex nut so that it’s nice and solid. Wash the oil off the inside of the pipe where the switch is going with soap and water – a tooth brush makes this easier – DRY thoroughly. Slip the switch into the pipe and keep turning it until it’s in as far as it will go and then glue it using the 2-part epoxy ‘J-B Weld’ from the back side so that just the back side of the washer, the tiny washer to the left and the hex nut are glued to the pipe. When this is dry (24 hrs later), the black plastic cap will turn but the rest will not!


Step 2:

I then glued the red tap handle to the switch with more J-B Weld and left that to dry 24 hours as well. Connect the switch wires  so that  they are in between the black wires from the light(s) and the black wire from the cord. This way, the switch can interrupt the electricity between the bulbs and the plug. Screw the pipe fitting into the lamp, tucking in all your wires and marettes. It’s a bit of a tight fit so be careful!


I have to share with you what went wrong here! I did mention that I’m not an electrician and I really didn’t do well in physics class either. AND electricity scares me a bit! I wasn’t wiring the switch properly ,so after blowing the breaker half a dozen times, I was becoming a bit unnerved! Nothing like having sparks fly when you plug a lamp in to wake you up! Just when I was about to throw my hands up in defeat, a customer’s husband came to collect some paint for his wife and after a short interrogation, he admitted that he did know something about wiring and was willing to look at what I was doing. Sure enough, he fixed the problem AND made a wiring diagram to explain what he’d done! What took him about 5 minutes would have taken me HOURS on Google to figure out!

Thank you Chris!!!

These lamps are not cheap to make – it cost me around a $100 for a simple one-bulb lamp but I think they are definitely worth it! I found a great company to buy some very unique ‘vintage’ parts from: www.vintagewireandsupply.com. They have the rotary switch I’ve used, the wire cages, lots of different bulbs and sockets as well as the twisted, fabric covered wire and Bakelite  plugs that I’ve used.


  1 comment for “Tap handle switch for Edison Lamps

  1. Patty Flowers
    February 8, 2015 at 3:22 am

    I want to see the picture of this lamp you made

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