DIY Decor: Turbine Pendant Light

Posted by: on May 24th, 2013 | 12 Comments
Do you like this article?

DIY Turbine Pendant Light hanging from ceiling in living room

 

I saw my first turbine pendant at a local crafts show. It was made from an upcycled old wind turbine similar to those you might have seen spinning atop homes with attic spaces many years ago. Its perfectly aged patina, weatherworn and oxidized to a dull gray, dotted with specks of rust and lit by a vintage-style Edison bulb very much appealed to my retro-modern sensibilities. My desire for one of these marvelous pendant lights was exceeded only by the steepness of the light’s price tag.

So, I studied it closely, took mental pictures, and decided I could do this. The only problem: I’m not exactly Tim the Tool Man when it comes to being handy or inventive around the house. Seriously, I once had to call my handyman over just to light the hot water heater. Duh.com, right. Well, I share this misadventure in home improvement for no other reason than to convince you that if I can build one of these, you can, too.

Here’s how it’s done.

The before

Crystal flush mount light on ceiling before DIY Turbine Pendant Light was installed

 

Here’s the obligatory before shot of my quite ordinary flush mount light fixture. Nothing against flush mount fixtures, mind you, but after all the time I’d spent sourcing the materials for my new Turbine Pendant Light, it couldn’t come down soon enough.

Image of materials used for DIY Turbine Pendant Light laid out on table

 

I really wanted to use a reclaimed wind turbine for this project, but after searching high and low for nearly a month, I decided to use a new one from my local Home Depot. I initially planned to spray paint it to simulate a more vintage look. But after getting it out of the box and sitting with it for a few days, I decided I liked the turbine just as it was.

To make your own Turbine Pendant Light, here’s everything you’ll need:

 

Turbine assembly

Removing the turbine housing for the DIY Turbine Pendant Light

 

Step 1

You’ll need your gloves on before handling the turbine because its edges are rough and sharp. With tin snips, cut through each of the spokes attaching the housing to the turbine frame. Once you remove the housing, use your hand to remove the small pieces of spoke still attached to the frame by bending them back and forth until they break away. Trust me, this will be a lot cleaner and easier than trying to use the snips.

Collage of 4 images that show the turbine assembly steps

 

Step 2

To assemble the pendant, thread a lamp coupling onto one end of the nipple. Then, slide a washer onto the end of the nipple so that coupling rests on top of it. Insert the nipple into the opening on top of the turbine from the inside, covering the hole with the washer. Repeat on the top side, placing the remaining washer onto the lamp nipple and tightening it to the top of the turbine with the remaining coupling.

When you’re ready to hang the pendant, you’ll thread the cord of the light kit through the lamp nipple, cut the cord to the desired length and hang it. But before you get to all of that, there’s a little more work to do.

Removing the old light fixture

Removing the flush mount light fixture from the ceiling where the Turbine Pendant Light will go

 

Step 3

This part is very important. The No. 1 rule when doing this type of electrical work is don’t get shocked! Be sure you have turned off the power at the breaker box before you begin removing the old light fixture. With the power safely off, remove the screws from the fixture to expose the junction box and wiring. Unscrew the lock nuts and ground wire to completely remove the old fixture.

Turbine Pendant Light installation 

Preparing the mounting screws for the DIY Turbine Pendant Light

 

Step 4

With the old fixture now removed, I decided to use the old mounting bracket for my new Turbine Pendant Light. I was lucky enough to scrounge up a couple of nuts to hold the mounting screws in place. That made it much easier to line up the canopy cover holes with the mounting screws in the final steps.

Of course, if you use the bracket that comes with the pendant light kit, you probably won’t have to worry about any of this.

 

Marking the cord that will hang the DIY Turbine Pendant Light

 

Step 5

Here’s where it gets exciting because at this point you’re almost ready to hang the light! There are theories for everything, including how to choose a chandelier and how far the light fixture should hang above your dining table. However, I chose not to consult any of these well-considered sources when it came time to hang my pendant.

According to the experts on these matters, a chandelier (which admittedly this is not) should hang 30 to 36 inches above your table — and I mention this because it is a good rule of thumb.

Since this is not a chandelier but will hang over my dining room table, I felt comfortable going with another time-honored technique: the old eyeball test. After several trips up and down the ladder, tying the pendant cord off around the mounting bracket at various lengths, I found a length that suited my eye and marked the cord with a silver Sharpie.

 

Cutting the cord for the DIY Turbine Pendant Light

 

Step 6

Not much to this step. Cut the cord with needle nose pliers at the mark.

 

Stripping the cord so that the DIY Turbine Pendant Light can be wired to ceiling

 

Step 7

Wire strippers are the preferred tool for this step. But if you don’t have a pair, a utility knife will do. The trick is to carefully cut into the rubber casing of the wire all the way around, just enough as to not damage the wire itself, stripping off about 3/4 inch of the insulation. Take your time, go easy and definitely wear your gloves.

 

Wiring the DIY Turbine Pendant Light in the ceiling

 

Step 8

Before we talk about wiring up the pendant, a word of advice. This step is really a two-person job, unless you’re able to pull off balancing the pendant on top of the ladder while you’re wiring it (which I don’t recommend). The pendant isn’t very heavy, but it has plenty of sharp edges, so imagine trying to hold onto it (which I did somehow) while trying to wire it. Not recommended. It will be much easier if someone else is holding the pendant while you’re wiring it, or vice versa.

The good news is that wiring up most light fixtures is fairly simple. But be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions that come with the pendant kit. There are usually only three wires to connect. I simply twisted together the black wire from the junction box with the black pendant cord wire, did the same for the white wires, and twisted wire nuts onto each to secure the connection. I screwed the green ground wire onto the mounting frame in the place provided. Now the pendant was wired up and almost ready to be switched on.

 

Collage of 3 images of the base of light and completed Turbine Pendant Light

 

Step 9

Finally, all you have left to do is slide the canopy up against the ceiling, tighten the locknuts and cord screw, and step back to admire your work. You’ll experience an even greater feeling of accomplishment and enjoyment once you’ve restored power at the breaker box and flip the switch on your new Turbine Pendant Light for the first time!

 

DIY Décor is a series about small, affordable design and décor projects for home and garden.

And while you’re here, take a look at more DIY projects here on The Home Depot blog.

 

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Comment




  1. carl says:

    Nice easy to follow step-by-step. A lot of projects you come across like this either don’t illustrate well or complicate the language, but this is a nice one to follow, might give it a shot :)

  2. Jenn Omeara says:

    Wow, I love this lighting fixture. i believe I possess the power to actually assemble one myself. As an avid novice interior decorater, I can not believe all the CRAP coming from the people who are posting and WHINING about how the idea was stolen, or he needs to create his own, blah blah blah. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. All designs, all creations, all arrangements come from someone else’s idea, it is called an inspiration.
    I see several things I like, several different styles, modern, rustic, industrial, contemporary etc, then I combine them all in my mind and I create my own version in reality. I always pay homage, and talk about the things that inspired me, when and if asked.
    The author did this, and never once tried to lay a claim. So many people are so stuck up and have to always hold on to that claim that “they created this, all by themselves!”. Got news for you, billions of people on the planet, goodness knows how many generations, so trust me when I say that your “original idea” has been thought of and probably executed by someone else.
    I say well done, and thank you for showing your steps in pictures, I am a very visual person.

  3. It’s obvious that you are missing the point Craig. I find it interesting that Jae lives in Atlanta. The artist who started making these originally dating back over the last five years also lives in Atlanta and has been selling them at various art and antique markets, scott antique market, country living fair at stone mountain and the goat farm aswell as several shops around Atlanta. He also is a family man of 6 children.
    So to quote Jae “So, I studied it closely, took mental pictures, and decided I could do this” is flat out stealing the idea the teaching folks how to do it.
    I will continue to not shop at Home Depot until this is taken offline.

  4. karen says:

    Love this! I have read all the posts and don’t see why the fuss. I will be making this lamp as I found a roof turbine months ago in a garage sale and have been looking for somehting to do with it. Copy, yes it is and I will tell everyone I copied it, but I do not have the funds to spend $150 plus on an original. Just like I don’t have the funds to buy anything that is a designer original. Those that have the funds to do so will buy these things from the artists and not consider making it themselves. Just because I am not creative enough to come up with my own DIY doesn’t mean I should live in a blank cardboard box.

    Karen

  5. Crystal says:

    It saddens me greatly that a “giant” such as Home Depot would support the idea that it is okay to not only copy an idea seen at a local artist market but to also publish that information publicly. Supporting the notion that this happens all the time and is acceptable is completely ridiculous. It causes financial stress and burden to artists and their families. These are the families that are likely Home Depot’s best customers. Stop hurting artists, stop hurting their families, and I’ll bet you stop hurting yourselves as well.

    Here’s a thought…how about coming up with your own original DIY ideas?

    Crystal

  6. Reading this article and the following thread infuriates me on several levels. 1st that Craig, who represents Home Depot where creatives have spent tons of money on tools and materials for their designs is now showing in detail how to make something that someone else created. Let’s be honest Craig, you stole this artists idea! If you are being paid by Home Depot they are guilty of theft as well.
    I own a retail store that sells vintage and original created home furnishings. I don’t allow people to take photographs of created items for this very reason. Creativity is a God given gift. Artists rely on this gift to make a living and to feed their families. Every time the ideas are stolen it is not just stolen from the artist but from the mouths that the artist feed within their homes.
    You probably did not take into account that when an artist sets up at shows there are a lot of overhead expenses in addition to being away from their families while they are trying to make a living.
    In conclusion I will not support Home Depot until you remove every do-it-yourself idea posts that has been taken from original artist/designers.

    • Craig Allen says:

      Hi, Robert.

      If this were a reversed engineered version of a specific lamp, I’d probably agree with you. It’s an original creation based on lamps Jae (the guy who did the project) had seen a number of times at aft shows. Jae mentioned that he had seen such lamps at art shows merely to be transparent about where he got the idea, and how much it might cost.

      Turbine lamps are actually fairly common. Go to more than a couple of art shows, and you’re bound to see a few different takes on this idea. Jae didn’t copy a graphic design or color scheme, nor did he copy any proprietary engineering techniques. We wouldn’t publish a project that did that. Jae basically just figured out how to hang a light bulb and a turbine from a ceiling.

      This is not intended to take business away from anyone. It’s meant to inspire readers to be creative.

      Thanks for your comments, Robert.

      -Craig, from The Home Depot

  7. Tony says:

    let’s be honest, almost everyone loves a good DIY project, and in reality, “there is nothing new under the sun”. However, I think it would be so cool if DIY’ers were dreaming up new things to share with the world instead of going to art/craft/antique shows and “figuring out” the ideas of the dreamers in order to copy them and save a few bucks. (Let alone, sharing them with the world. Those dreamers are gifted to come up with those things and many of them make there living by selling those things they dream. It is challenging enough with china, India, and the Philippines sending spies to those same shows to take the ideas of the “dreamers” and figuring out a way to mass produce and ship it in by the boatload. They are putting artist out of business all the time. What if we saw an artists creation and actually bought it and supported them and their families, instead of figuring out a way to put them out of a job? The world could look like a different place. Just think of what the dreamers might come up with if we supported them.

    • Craig Allen says:

      You make some good points, Tony.

      I’d say for projects like this one, beyond the initial idea, there’s also a lot of work and workmanship that goes into creating the piece. The fact is, not that many people will spend that time, and would rather purchase it ready made from the artist. And there’s no denying the satisfaction of building something with one’s hands, and that’s an experience the artist can’t provide. That’s not to mention that a lot of innovation comes from people doing their own versions of clever ideas they see elsewhere.

      And who knows what artisan will see this short article and come up with a completely brilliant way to improve this design… and make a lot of money from it. He or she is welcome to it.

      Thanks for writing.

      -Craig, from The Home Depot

      • Missy says:

        Hey Craig,

        Congrats on conquering this DIY project. Not being very “crafty” myself, I can totally relate to the euphoria you must have experienced when you flipped the switch and realized you had actually done it! May I also say that the piece really does look fabulous in the space!

        In response to the previous post, however, I would like to bring to your attention that while it seems innocent enough to go to artist markets and surreptitiously search for ways to knock-off artists’ original ideas, it may be another matter to post step-by-step instructions on a major website like the Home Depot. Ironically, I have seen this piece at a local artist market for $125.00, while the total for your supply list is around $75.00 plus tools/equipment $150.00. Just something to think about.

  8. Janet Majors says:

    Very functional and so creative! I’m impressed!