Old and obsolete electrical connectors may seem useless, but they can actually be great for fun DIY projects! As an amateur electrician and hobbyist, I love finding new ways to reuse old parts. Here's my guide on how you can use antique connectors to make one-of-a-kind creations.
Understanding Obsolete Electrical Connectors
Before using antique electrical connectors, it's important to understand what they are and where to find them.
Types of Obsolete Connectors
There are many types of old electric connectors that are no longer used today. Some common examples include:
Ceramic screw-in fuses - These tube-shaped fuses screw into sockets to protect circuits. They were used before modern breakers.
Bakelite and early plastic connectors - Bakelite was an early plastic material used for insulation. Connectors made from it are obsolete today.
Cloth-wrapped wiring connectors - Early electrical wiring was wrapped in cloth for insulation. The connectors for these wires are rare antiques now.
Vintage lamp cord plugs and sockets - Old lamp cords used unique plugs and sockets that do not meet modern safety standards.
Early porcelain wiring devices - Outlets, switches, and other devices used to be made of porcelain. These are from the early 20th century.
Where to Find Obsolete Connectors
The best places to find antique electric connectors include:
Online auctions - Check eBay and other auction sites for vintage electric parts. You can often find large lots for sale.
Estate sales - Look for sales from old houses that may still have original wiring fixtures.
Antique stores - Some antique shops have sections dedicated to vintage electric or industrial parts.
Flea markets and swap meets - Search for vintage wiring supplies at flea markets and garage sales.
Salvage yards - Businesses that salvage building materials are great spots to find antique connectors.
Cool Projects You Can Make
Once you've sourced some obsolete electric connectors, the real fun begins! Here are some neat DIY projects you can make with vintage electrical parts:
Lamp Made from Antique Sockets and Plugs
Make a custom lamp using antique lamp cord sockets and plugs as the base. Here's how:
- Gather vintage lamp parts like bakelite sockets and early cloth-wrapped plugs. Make sure they work safely.
- Affix the parts to a pipe, wood, or metal base. Get creative with the design!
- Wire the parts together using modern copper wire to connect them safely.
- Add a lamp shade, light bulb, and power cord to finish it off!
The result is a retro lamp that doubles as a cool decoration.
Jewelry Made from Old Fuses
Turn vintage ceramic screw-in fuses into wearable art! To make jewelry from them:
- Clean and polish old ceramic fuses so they shine. Use a soft cloth or toothbrush.
- Glue posts, pins, or loops to the ends. These let you turn them into necklaces, bracelets, or earrings.
- Attach other pieces like beads and chains for decoration.
- Finish by coating with sealant spray to prevent corrosion.
Wearing obsolete electric parts as jewelry gives off a fun steampunk vibe.
Mosaic Art from Porcelain Pieces
Make mosaic art or house numbers using the many porcelain parts found in old switches, outlets, and wiring devices.
- Break vintage porcelain electrical parts into smaller pieces using pliers or a hammer. Wear safety goggles.
- Arrange the shattered porcelain shards into a design and glue onto a board or other surface.
- Fill any gaps with tile grout and let dry.
- Coat with sealant for durability. Add hooks to hang your new mosaic on the wall!
The porcelain gives the mosaic art or house numbers a cool aged look.
Helpful Tips for Working with Obsolete Connectors
When crafting with antique electrical connectors, follow these tips to do it safely and effectively:
Check for damage - Inspect old parts thoroughly and discard any with cracks or broken insulation.
Test connections - Use a multimeter to check for continuity and faults before connecting antique parts to power.
Reinforce insulation - Wrap all terminal connections in electrical tape or heat shrink tubing for added insulation.
Use modern wiring inside - Only connect external antique parts. Use new copper wire inside for safety.
Work carefully - Wear eye protection when breaking porcelain parts. Handle bakelite gently to avoid cracks.
Ask an expert - Consult an electrician if you are unsure how to work with vintage electrical connectors.
Inspiring Ideas to Spark Your Creativity
Hopefully this gives you some inspiration for repurposing obsolete electrical connectors! Here are a few more ideas:
Frame vintage fuses and switches as industrial art pieces.
Make funky lamps out of antique lamp parts and pipe fittings.
Use old porcelain pieces to make drawer knobs or cabinet handles.
Create steampunk style jewelry, like necklaces from antiqued lightbulbs and watch parts.
Make an electric parts shadowbox display and hang it on the wall.
The possibilities are endless! With some creativity and safety precautions, those old electric connectors gathering dust can become amazing one-of-a-kind projects you'll cherish for years.