Industrial Floor Lamp from a Surveyors Tripod

Industrial Floor Lamp from a Surveyors Tripod

A couple of years ago, a local store had a FANTASTIC “yard sale” which was more like a fancy flea market. At this sale, I bought two things- a pretty antique picture frame and a very cool, very trendy vintage surveyor’s tripod. And making an industrial floor lamp was at the top of my to-do list with that wooden tripod.

Cottonball was intensely fascinated by the vintage tripod from the start, and he briefly thought about a surveying career.

Surveyors tripod to be upcycled and repurposed into industrial floor lamp or tripod floor lamp by Sadie Seasongoods /

I always knew that the surveyors tripod would eventually become an industrial floor lamp. They are all the rage, and can cost upwards of $500. I mean, who has that kind of cash laying around for a tripod floor lamp? Ok, maybe lots of people do- but I don’t!

So, let’s get to upcycling this wooden tripod and transform it into the industrial floor lamp of my dreams!

Upcycling a surveyors tripod into an industrial floor lamp or tripod lamp with lamp kit by Sadie Seasongoods /

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Upcycling a Surveyors Tripod into an Industrial Floor Lamp

We’ve built lamps before, so it wasn’t our first rodeo with wiring a lamp kit. But there was a problem; the large hole at the top of the tripod- where the lamp kit needs to go- was a gaping hole, way too big for a lamp nipple.

Making an adapter for lamp kit to fit inside surveyors tripod to make an industrial floor lamp by Sadie Seasongoods /

Jon knew he had to build a “plug” for it- something to fill the wide hole so that the lamp kit could be secured in place. We cleaned out the tripod hole (it was coated in vintage goo- fun!) and we bought a wooden dowel, slightly larger in diameter than the tripod hole. Jon then sanded down one end of the dowel to the point that it barely fit in the surveyors tripod.

Using a wooden dowel to make an adapter for lamp kit to fit inside surveyors tripod when makinga tripod lamp or tripod floor lamp by Sadie Seasongoods /

After sanding down enough dowel to fill the hole at the top of the surveyors tripod, he cut off the “plug” and drilled a hole through the center. This was no easy task without cracking the small plug in half- fair warning! Then, we inserted a reducer for the lamp nipple.

Adapter and reducer for fitting lamp kit inside surveyors tripod for upcycling into industrial floor lamp or tripod lamp by Sadie Seasongoods /

We then hammered the plug into the tripod (a perfectly snug fit!) and screwed in a lamp nipple. Now it was ready for the lamp kit so that the transformation into industrial floor lamp could really happen!

Using a lamp kit to repurpose a wooden tripod or surveyors tripod into an industrial floor lamp by Sadie Seasongoods /

A few minutes later, we had wired the socket into place and we had a functioning tripod floor lamp!! Now all I needed was to do something about the hanging cord and to buy the perfect lamp shade.

Industrial floor lamp made by wiring a lamp kit inside a surveyors tripod or wooden tripod by Sadie Seasongoods /

To make my industrial floor lamp to appear “neater and tidier”, I wanted to gently secure the cord along one of the legs of the surveyors tripod. I decided a staple gun was too risky and too semi-permanent, but the staples themselves were the perfect hardware for the job.

Hiding the cord of a lamp kit by stapling cord along legs of tripod floor lamp or tripod lamp by Sadie Seasongoods /

Using my funfetti craft hammer, I lightly tapped them into the tripod leg. The staples “bridged” the cord in place without hard-clamping it down.

Finishing an industrial floor lamp by hiding cord of lamp kit along legs of surveyors tripod by Sadie Seasongoods /

Industrial Floor Lamp / Tripod Floor Lamp – Done!

And ta-da it worked beautifully- no more draping cord! I also found a drum shade at a local lamp / lighting shop that fit it perfectly.

Pro-tip: Bring your lamps into smaller shops when looking for the ideal shade. That will allow you to try a few on before finding the perfect one!

Industrial floor lamp or tripod floor lamp made by upcycling a surveyors tripod with a lamp kit by Sadie Seasongoods /

All in all, a complete success- I only wish we hadn’t waited so long to make our industrial floor lamp because it really is fantastic. AND it was nowhere nearly as costly as the versions in hip home décor stores. Yard sales + DIY = stylish savings, which is ALWAYS trendy.

Looking for more upcycled industrial decor ideas? I have a few more ideas here that might pique your interest!

Craft on!


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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Fantastic light….looks light it came straight out of the Pottery Barn catalog!

  2. I love this! Great work and thanks for sharing at Think & Make Thursday!

  3. It’s really amazing to see vintage tripod and also your post is quite interesting to read.

  4. This is so beautiful and so clever. Thanks for sharing.


  5. distresseddonna says

    Such a clever way to hack an expensive lamp.

  6. This is beautiful! I want one!

  7. First of all, this is such a neat piece! Second of all, your CATS are cracking me up!!! Third of all…Thanks so much for coming by the #HomeMattersParty – we hope to see you again next week!

  8. Diana Rambles says

    This is awesome!

  9. I love the lamp! I bought an old tripod like that at an auction about a year ago. I’ve wanted to make it into a lamp but didn’t know where to start. Thanks for sharing yours so I have something to show my husband! Have a great week.

  10. Really cool<3 Great job! I Gotta try making one of these!!!!

  11. Love it! I bought a surveyors tripod last summer with the same plan in mind, but it just seemed to big to tackle (I, unlike you, have not assembled a lamp before!). You’ve de-mystified the process and maybe now I’ll give it a try. Mine’s out in the freezing cold garage, so I may wait for it to warm up a bit 🙂

  12. Very cool transformation. I love it.

  13. I’m loving these tripod lamps but you are right, they can be expensive. Yours turned out beautifully and it looks like a million bucks!

  14. Such a great lamp, love the wood on the tripod. I also adore the door plate art on the wall. Thanks for linking up!

  15. Love your DIY tripod lamp! I’m featuring this tomorrow at Your Turn To Shine. Thank you for linking up with us every week, Sarah!

  16. What a neat idea! I really like Inspector Cottonball 🙂

  17. What a great idea with the piece of wood. The lamp looks amazing!!. Visiting from Someday Crafts!!

  18. Fantastic job! I wish I could find one of these! My dad has all the new ones, but they’re definitely not as cool! Featuring this tomorrow for Think & Make Thursday! Cheers!

  19. Love your new tripod lamp. I’ve seen these go for big bucks.

  20. I love this lamp! Thanks for stopping by and linking up at Totally Terrific Tuesday!

  21. Sharon | Her Organized Chaos says

    WOW this is incredible! I really love this lamp and really wish I have it for my home! Pinning and sharing! Thanks for linking this up to Totally Terrific Tuesday last week. I can’t wait to see what you have this week! Party goes live tonight at 9pm CST!


  22. Love it. Great job.

  23. What a great project!!!!!!!!! Visiting from Renovar Design!

  24. This look fabulous. I would love a lamp like this. Thanks for linking up with Wordless Wednesday.
    Co-host Julie

  25. I love your vintage tripod lamp and it turned out fabulous. Thanks so much for linking up to our Something to Talk About Link Party and sharing it here. Hope you join us again tomorrow morning n have a great week xo Lisa at Concord Cottage

  26. I bought 4 of these about 8 years ago with the same idea in mind. I gave one of them to my son who is a wood worker in hopes that he might get a lamp made quicker than me. So glad I saw your directions! I sent them on to him.

  27. try eBay

  28. Jann Olson says

    my hubby is an engineer and I picked up a vintage tripod hoping to do something like this. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  29. Gretchen Mercer says

    Sadie, I am thrilled to find this! My husband, now 68, grew up working for a surveyor while in high school, and after college he joined the surveyor in his business. Eventually he bought it out and had his own business for about 40 years. I had to insist he keep his old wooden tripod! He just couldn’t see any value in having it. I’d seen these lamps in upscale catalogs…wanted one for him but just couldn’t justify the cost. So, we’ve been waiting for him to “find the time” to figure out how to turn it into a lamp. YAH! Now, he has everything he needs to know. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Gretchen! My husband had a big part in putting this together so I read your comment to him- we’re both so happy that you found my blog and I hope you’ll let me know how your lamp turns out!!

  30. What size shade did you use?

  31. Is Cottonball for hire? I have numerous projects where I could use an independent inspector … Yeah, I thought not.
    Anyway, great idea. I took a semester of surveying. Although those tripods were not wood, an old one could still be used for a lamp and probably easier than ensuring it was accurate for surveying.

  32. Awesome lamp!!! What size reducer was used? Thanks

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Hi, Dustin- It’s been so many years since we built that lamp that I no longer remember. I’m sorry about that- but the size needed would also vary from lamp kit to lamp kit. What worked for ours may not automatically work for a kit you purchase, etc.

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