FRÄCK Hack

Even as a small child, I knew that the waiting room of my dentist’s office was due for a makeover, what with the slouchy green leather sofa placed below an enormously out of scale woven Mickey Mouse tapestry, mounted upon glossy beige walls. The carpeting was a black and white flecked shag number, laden with the smell of fluoride and drenched in children’s tears, stapled over enough carpet pads to give the illusion of walking on a pillowtop mattress. It was the sort of place one could tell was designed to make children comfortable, which only served to put me more on edge. After all, this was a house of medicine, not Discovery Zone, and I longed for it to be treated as such.

We had this ritual at the dentist, wherein we were afforded the opportunity to choose our fate by selecting one of two distinct treatment options: “the easy way, or the hard way.” The easy way was simple enough to understand: once perched on the avocado-green pleather exam chair, we were to remain calm and accept whatever form of torture was bestowed upon us, hoping we’d emerge alive but armed with the knowledge that if our deaths did come to pass, we’d at least go with our honor and dignity intact and be remembered for our good-nature and obedience. The hard way was significantly more mysterious—what would happen if we chose not to comply? Would they spank us? Would they not give us a lollipop at the end? These are big questions when you’ve only lived for half a decade, so I took it upon myself to give it a try at least once.

I committed to the act with admirable devotion, maniacally screaming my way into the exam room, mustering all my strength to wriggle free of my captives. Once forced into an exam chair, I rocked back and forth angrily, unclenching my tightly-wound jaw only to emit a series of high-pitched, tortured wails. This, before a doctor or glimmering, vibrating tool had even approached me. Eventually, I heard somebody give the command: “strap him down.” Catalyzing a renewed wave of rage, I howled in agony and kicked a nurse before all of my limbs, thighs, and torso had been tied down with the aid of rough velcro restraints. And that, my friends, is when they administered the electric shocks.

In reality, no pulses of electricity were sent to my brain, but I do remember lying there and wishing I could call the whole thing off. I was still crying, but now they were tears of shame and defeat, produced in a longing to undo the damage that had been wrought upon my reputation and ego. I had been a fool, and I longed for the easy way once more.

I think “the hard way” is generally how I approach most home-related tasks. While it’s usually a sticker-shock-induced bout of “well, I could just make that!,” the resulting effect is hours of work I could have spent doing other things—like my dishes, for instance—had I just had the good sense to purchase something pre-made. This is how I’ve come to regard all DIY projects.

So when I decided I really wanted some cute wall-mounted accordion-style bedside lights to go over the new floating teak shelves, I didn’t even hop on my Google machine to try to find some. I knew they’d be pricey, or ugly, or both, and the chances of finding matching vintage ones that wouldn’t cost a month’s rent seemed slim. Besides, I already had a plan. Or, well, an inkling of a plan.

Say hello to the classic IKEA FRÄCK bathroom mirror. We’ve all seen them. We’ve probably all used them. We might even have one, or several. They’re only $4.99, but they’re well-made and super handy for small spaces or a beauty regimen that is more advanced than mine.

That’s a pretty cute light, am I right?

I know I just talked ad nauseam about the virtues of the “hard way,” but actually making these lights was really, really easy. You just need a few simple parts, about 15 minutes, and less than $20.

1. IKEA FRÄCK mirror, with the mirror part thrown away (it just screws on and off of that threaded part at the top)
2. Lamp socket, the kind with a hole on the side for the cord to escape.
3. Adapter Nut
4. Plug
5. Wire. Any lamp wire will work, but since I generally have a phobia of exposed wires and this is, by definition, exposed, I ordered some cute twisted red cloth wire from Sundial Wire. It’s only $1.40 per foot, the shipping was really fast, it’s cute and really nice quality. I’m tempted to order the 250-foot spool, you know, just because. I’ll use it eventually.
6. Tools: flathead screwdriver, wire strippers.

If you’ve never rewired a lamp, just know that it’s basically the easiest thing ever and there are about 8 trillion tutorials on the internet on how to do it. As I am not anything approaching an electrician, I won’t bore you with my retelling and lack of proper terminology. Still, step 1: wire that socket. Any good lighting supply store and most hardware stores should have a good selection of sockets, make sure you get the kind that has a hole for the cord to escape through that’s NOT the bottom hole, since that’s what holds it onto the accordion part. After it’s wired, put the socket back together.

This is the most important piece, and also the tiniest: the adapter nut. At least I think that’s what it’s called. This is the piece that adapts the threaded part on the IKEA accordion base to the bottom of the light socket, so they can screw together tightly. I got mine by bringing the accordion to a lamps store and the employee immediately finding the right piece, so I assume most lamp/lighting/hardware places should have them.

After the adapter nut is screwed on tight, gather the cord in your hand and screw on your light socket.

After the socket is in place, thread the cord through the back of the FRÄCK hardware, between the wall plate and the supporting rod. I made those terms up. I only draw special attention to this because you’ll want to decide which side you want your loose cord to hang on—since these are for bedsides, I wanted the cords to hang on the outside of the accordion, so the cord is threaded in opposite directions on the two lamps. All of this will make sense if you’re actually doing it. My ability to form legible sentences is failing me.

Then, just wire the plug. Again, this is SO EASY (even if you’ve never done it). A monkey could do it.

Once it’s all put together, hang it up and you’re done! I chose to top ours with 25W chrome-tipped bulbs. They aren’t terribly bright, which is how I like a bedside light. All moody n’ shiz.

When they’re not in use, it’s nice to be able to just push them back towards the wall, where they’re completely unobtrusive. Also, having something wall-mounted instead of a traditional tabletop lamp frees up space on the nightstands, which are only about 8 inches deep. More room for books or glasses or mugs or your crystal balls or… I don’t know your life.

I’m super-duper happy with the little lights. All the virtue of having done something “the hard way” (think of the times you get to impress people with “oh yeah, I made those in my free time”!) and none of the actual effort ordinarily inherent in that choice. Which is the best sort of DIY, if you ask me.


92 Comments

  1. Just ridiculously cool.

  2. They look good! And I think I have second-hand trauma from the idea of being strapped down in a dentist chair.

  3. I’m Daniel’s older brother, and I can attest that every word herein written about our dentist’s office and the “hard way” incident are 100% true.

    Also, this is amazing. Like, the coolest fräcking bedside lights I’ve ever seen. You’re a motherfräcking genius.

    • I don’t know what I like more, Dan’s post or your comment! Made me laugh.

  4. What a great idea! Especially like the red wire.

  5. Why helllooooooooo, pretty lights :) Totally stealing this idea.

  6. Famazing. I’m sending this all over the world. :D

  7. Great job! I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of these types of lights, but I LOVE a good hack. And this is a really good one! :) Thanks for sharing it! Keep up the good work.

  8. Completely not my style, completely ridiculously cool. (Oh, that says bad things about my style … dammit.)

  9. GORGEOIS. (Rhymes with “bourgeois” though it does not look that way.)

  10. Impressive as usual, Dan! I love the red wire! So sexy.

  11. Great idea! Stylish yet functional. As the Swede I am I’ll provide you with some of the translations of the word “fräck”: cool, naughty or rude. useful, huh?
    Anyway. For a quite large part of my life I was convinced that my dental phobia was something that came after I had to pull one of my teeth as a 8 year old, since my earliest memory of going to the dentist was very peaceful. Some years ago, howevere, my parents revealed the truth: The first time I went to the dentist I did not open my mouth. At all. They had to give up and drive home again. Compared to 5 year old me 28 year old me is a complete pushover.

    • I love the translations, Annika!! (can you translate all the ikea products for me? I have a sneaking feeling you swedes are messing with us, trying to get Americans to unwittingly say the filthiest words imaginable)

  12. Totally brilliant. I expect to see this all over Pinterest by this evening.

  13. You, sir, are a genius! :)

  14. Brilliant! Are you submitting this to Ikea Hackers? http://www.ikeahackers.net/

    • Meh, I usually don’t “submit” my stuff anywhere, but sometimes people do it on my behalf. I don’t mind, just as long as proper credit is given (as opposed to stealing my DIYs and submitting them to sites like that as if they were the submitter’s work, which has also happened).

  15. Yeah I pinned it; fracking awesome.

    (was that one too many “frack” callbacks?)

  16. It looks much safer than that crazy under-the-sink-and-through-the-water thing you hooked up in your last apartment (and wisely disassembled after your mother told you to). But I’m still wary of amateur wiring (because I’m your mother’s age). Does mom approve?

    • Oh lord, it’s just a lamp! Lamp rewiring is really easy and really hard to mess up, I promise.

      (that said, you’ll have to ask my mom. who probably has bigger things to worry about right now :-)

  17. Those are soo cool! And cheap! And easy! I have the feeling I will make two of those at some point in my life. You are a genius, you really are.

  18. Now I want to go and replace my parent’s 90′s living room sconces. Think they’ll mind? What if I put little shades on ‘em?

  19. Wow. Pinned this… Just, wow!

  20. oh, hells yeah. i had noticed previously that max did not have a bedside lamp and wondered if you made him read by the light of the moon.

  21. You are a WIZARD!!! I am totally doing this. We finally got an IKEA in Denver and I am going right now to buy a couple of fräcks. Thank you!!!

    Anya

  22. You didn’t use the mirror to diy one of those round spiky mirror treatments that are all over these days?

    Hmmm. I’d’ve snagged those mirrors from you!

    • Haha- you know, I stared at those mirrors for a good long time trying to figure out any DIY I could do with them before I just pitched them. Those kinds of mirrors aren’t really my style, but you’re welcome to snag a few from IKEA for $5 if you feel so inclined :-).

  23. Perfect! I was looking for bedside lamps like this but could not find anything in reasonable price range.. bought different ones, but have already an idea where else I could use this idea.

  24. I had NO IDEA where this post was going when I began reading it. I too have ridiculous memories of my childhood dentist. My dad told me that the dentist had killed his wife in a ‘fit of passion.’ I never really got over it. I would lay there and stare up at him praying I wouldn’t set him off on a fit with my womanly buds.

    I swear it is true.

    These lamps are wonderful. I need to find a place to hack these myself.

    ~Deborah – often lurker; infrequent commenter

  25. Very cool. I love exposed bulbs and good to hear that these particular ones emit soft light. So what did you do about the recent blatant rip off of your French door project post, anyway?

    • I submitted a comment asking that the post be taken down (it was about a year old, actually), then submitted a report to Blogger for copyright infringement. They took it down the next day! The whole blog is basically rip-offs from what I can tell, but Google just removed my post from it.

  26. I knew it. I just KNEW this could be done. THE ADAPTER NUT. of course. I just made a swing arm lamp. Your cord is cuter. Dammit. Love your blog, totally charming.
    my lamp here:
    http://howtorunyourlife.blogspot.com/2011/08/ok-i-know-i-promised-special-face-but-i.html

    yay you.
    pam

  27. I would like to attempt to make a pair for guest room but I have one dumb question – how do you turn the lamps on and off without unplugging them each time (the electrical socket is behind the headboard so my guests won’t be able to access it. I am assuming its the little black knob under the bulb, part of the socket, but I don’t want to assume. Am I missing something?

  28. Oh, and how long should the cords be? 6′ each? More? Sorry for being annoying but I don’t want to have a doh moment once I attempt it.

    • Not annoying at all! My electric outlets are behind the bed too, but the switch is on the lamp socket (the little black bar pushes in and out to turn the light on and off). There are a few different kinds of light sockets, so you could also use one with a pull chain or you could use a socket without a switch and have one on the cord instead… all parts that any lighting store should have and are super easy to wire yourself.

      My cords are about 5 feet each (they plug into power strips we have just under the bed on both sides) which is more than long enough for us. You’ll probably want to measure the distance between the outlet and where your lamp will be mounted, then add a bit for the proper amount of swag and all that. Cord is always pretty cheap so it’s smart to buy a little more than you think you’ll need, you can always cut excess. If you want to make it REALLY easy, you could just snip the end off an extension cord and wire that into the light socket, too, but I just didn’t want plastic cord for this.

  29. great idea, fabulous execution, you are so clever! now i am dying to see the art by the mug on the right night stand…

  30. OMG, you are a genius! This may be the solution to our bedside lights problem. Thanks for sharing this.

  31. Clever. Very Steampunkish! I like.

    Random Tangent – I SO want a IKEA to come to Kansas City (Denver, Mpls, Chicago and Dallas are the closest ones = all 8 to 12 hour drive ONE WAY).

  32. Thank you Daniel – I will attempt to do this and let yo know the outcome. Fingers crossed….and it may take a while until I assemble all the components. You will hear from again in the not distant future.

  33. love the lamps!

    is it meaningful that the clock in the last photo is on 4:20? …kidding.

  34. Wow, I’m a dentist and I’m super nice and all but I had to tell three kids today that we could do this the easy way or the hard way. You know, when we say that, we really mean that it is going to either be easy or hard for *us*, the people working on you, ’cause you crazy kids have already decided how you are going to act and nothing we do will help (besides sedatives). Awe, we don’t mean to hurt y’all, I swear!

    Oh, and I can’t wait to make this lamp. Its beautiful!

  35. Very dangerous. You didn’t ground it. Not a safe idea at all.

  36. Also can’t tell if the plug is polarized and there is no mention of polarity when wiring it up.

    • Okay, I have a lot of lamps around that I DIDN’T wire myself, and none of them are grounded. I suppose they’re all hazards.

      The plug I bought isn’t polarized. From what I can tell from online resources, this is fine for a lamp setup like this.

      As I point out in the post, I’m not an electrician or some kind of expert, but I think I know enough to do something this simple safely. It isn’t as if I somehow created my own electrical parts… they were all bought and used as directed. And they work perfectly. And haven’t started any fires. Or shocked anyone to death trying to change a bulb. That said, for safety’s sake, OF COURSE everyone should do enough research to know what is legal/safe in their area. Electric codes and regulations vary by location and region, but I’m pretty sure this is legit here.

      • Those lamps don’t drape the wire across the bare metal like yours. They also do not have pinch points. Grounding would add safety to this design.

      • Okay, but even still, the wire I used is high quality and insulated in thick plastic AND cloth. Any wire that becomes worn over time should obviously be replaced, but it’s not like the actual copper wire is coming in contact with the metal, or even close. (pinch points? seriously?)

        I guess I’m really living on the edge here, sorry it’s making you so uncomfortable.

  37. Love this really, but I love the Amy Poehler Baby Mama reference more. I use that line on people all the time…sometimes they get it, most times they dont, but that’s irrelevant.

    • Oh gosh, I didn’t realize I was making a Baby Mama reference! Now I’m dying to know what it is…

  38. I just saw this hack on Apartment Therapy.
    I love that you’re just “Daniel” now…

  39. If nothing else, this whole tutorial is worth it for the link to http://www.sundialwire.com/ . Clearly I need hundreds of feet of cloth wrapped wire, right? RIGHT?

    Great work, by the way- nice post!

  40. I live in the city (ok, brooklyn, but lets not nitpick).
    I figured i might as well follow your footsteps.
    Which shops (lamps, hardware, etc) did you go to?
    Why run around when someone (graciously) did it for you?

    thanks!

    • I live in Brooklyn too! (started the blog when I lived in Manhattan, hence the name…)

      But I go to NYU, so I got all the parts at Lighting Plus on Broadway near E. 4th. If you have a lighting supply store around you, though, they’d probably have all the same stuff (and maybe better customer service and pricing). Most hardware stores should have this stuff as well though.

  41. I think I’m going to have to steal this :) The semi-circular metal bit that holds the mirror on our Frack got all wonky awhile back, and I need a task light for my office anyways. DIY is always more fun than store bought.

  42. genius tutorial!

  43. Wow another slam dunk DIY, kudos. I’m really loving the pop of red with the wire.

  44. these are amazing. and i love them. i want them yesterday. but i will probably have to settle for a month from now.

    thanks for the tutorial!!!!

    -eliza

  45. Are there any limits to your genius? I didn’t even know that Ikea made these. My problem is that I have about 5 things to plug in next to my bed, so the cords get all twisted and tangled. I duct taped a power cord to the leg of my bedside table, but trying to plug in something new is really difficult. (like the charger to my Kindle.) Awaiting new projects and wall colors. Ann

  46. Next time you head up to Canada, pick up those needed Enje shades at Ikea – they will cost more than when you bought them in the US.

    http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/categories/departments/living_room/10701/

    I am so tempted to get some when I visit my daughter in Toronto.

  47. I dig your bedside lights. Nice hack! I saw it on Apartment Therapy, glad I stumbled upon your blog…

  48. this is really pretty awesome. i really don’t know why people are thinking this could be so shockingly dangerous. i’m not an expert but after a semester of a lighting design course in which i had hammered into my brain all of ways wiring a lamp can go wrong, i honestly don’t think there is anything wrong with this. as long as the wire is insulated well, isn’t fraying, and isn’t actually touching the metal or near any water, i don’t think its dangerous. great job daniel!

  49. Love this project!

  50. Ok. I’ve been looking for this exact lamp for about a year now. Heading to ikea tomorrow….

  51. I’m a little late to this fracking party, but wow! I’m stunned! Nice work (as always) Daniel.

  52. L-O-V-E !
    L-O-V-E !
    L-O-V-E !

    Did I say that I LOVE this idea?

  53. You are a creative genius – (I wanted to write that and then I saw that everyone else wrote that too) and I am post it anyway – genius!

  54. I LOVED your idea, but I wanted to be able to directionally position where the light would shine. I removed the mirror from the Frack, but kept the U-frame.

    I found a neat wooden salad bowl that I thought would be a good bulb/socket holder. I used a spade bit to drill out where the socket would fit in. To make sure it was super-secure, I also glued a rubber washer in place.

    Finally, I drilled two holes where screws would attach to the U-frame. The rest is almost exactly as you did: same wire and sockets from Sundial, and voila!

    http://yfrog.com/ki2qpvsj

    Thanks so much for the inspiration! My friends are BEGGING me to make them similar lamps!

    • That’s so awesome!! So smart, and it looks totally cool… plus totally adaptable depending on the bowl. Looks great!

  55. THAT IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR . Does the red wire come in PURPLE?
    Even this 68+ old lady can do this,.!! Thanks

  56. Perfection. Totally doing this as my man has about had it with my nighttime reading and bright lights. Of course, will give credit where credit is due.

    Thank you for saving our marriage!

  57. Ok, dumb question. What gauge wire did you use from Sundial? 18? I’m a beginner light-maker too and I’m not sure if I need the 18 or the 14… internet searches says both can be used for lamps… your thoughts?

    Thanks!
    Heather

  58. Even though you don’t submit your own stuff to IKEA Hackers, I LOVE the comment on “your” entry: “Oh, you’ve probably gotten this from a bunch of his fans, but you’ve gotta see this one: the Frack Hack.” You are RIDICULOUSLY famous:)

    http://www.ikeahackers.net/2011/08/frack-hack.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Ikeahacker+%28ikeahacker%29

  59. I love the lamps! What a great blog, very inspirational. I’m so eager to get on with some projects for our new casa after coming across your blog. Fantastic! Take care, towe.

  60. Beyond cool!! And the perfect compliment to the industrial chic vibe I have planned for my next living space. I will be making a pair of these for sure… Thanks!

  61. This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Thanks for the amazing inspiration!

  62. Wonderful job, Daniel, and such a simple but effective idea. What kind of bulbs did you use?

  63. Excellent work and thank you for the inspiration. I am about to make a pair for my daughters room. Can I ask what gauge wire you used? Thank you.

  64. Just saw the above post regarding gauge. Thanks. Love your desk project too.

  65. Just a tip – if you decide to do this project yourself, tie the wires into a loose knot inside the socket enclosure to keep them from slipping out. Ditto on the plug. Google “Underwriter’s Knot” to see an example.

  66. Love the lamp. Strangely, ikea used to make this exact lamp in wood. I have a bedside set I purchased in the 90s. I wish they’d bring them back.

  67. this is so awesome and wow you made it look so easy! i love the red wire, i may need to buy that big spool too ; )

    hope it’s okay that i re-posted it on my bloggity blog, let me know if it’s not.

    Thanks!

  68. Love this so much. Found everything other than the end cap with the side cord extension – no one in LA seems to sell it. Any able to recommend online retailers / or stores who will mail? Thanks!

    • I have no idea… I’ve actually gotten a few emails from people now saying these aren’t so easy to find outside of NY! I bet SOMEBODY online sells them, I mean, they must right? But I don’t know where!

    • Hey Tom, it took me a while to find it. I went everywhere from lowes to home depot to local shops until I finally found it in walmart of all places. Although I couldn’t find the right color I wanted, they do have the end cap with side extension cord. By the way, where in LA did you find the adapter nut? I’m having the hardest time trying to find it. I’ve been to every hardware store I can think of in LA, but no one seems to have it.

    • ok so i know i’m super late on this but have been looking online FOR.EV.ER. trying to find someone who sells this stuff… and i am pleased to report that my almost-year-long search has not been in vain!

      for all your lamp-making needs, i present to you, The Lamp Shop:

      http://www.lampshop.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=ls&Category_Code=10_02_PARTS_ELECTRIC

      bonus: they deliver to Canada (my neck of the woods) as well! and Australia, if you happen to find yourself there without lamp parts.

      the lamp shop. so simple. who woulda thought?

      • What about the coupling nut? Danielle, do they sell one that fits the lamp + socket?

        Thanks for the website!

  69. what about the side tables?? where are they from? did you make them??

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