How can I balance my lampshade?
November 12, 2012 3:50 PM   Subscribe

Please help me balance (or level) a screw-on lampshade onto a harp? This seems like it should be very obvious.

Hi, I'm arnicae, and I officially can't get my lampshades straight. I just got a new lamp which has a metal harp on which the lampshade goes on with a finnial screwed on the top, and it, just like my other three (fairly expensive, different brands and models) lamps has a lampshade that doesn't sit straight on the lamp.

I've tried paperclips - they don't work particularly well. I don't want to stick anything flammable there for obvious reasons. Is there anything else easy I can do, or should I just give up and buy some more sugru to fix it?
posted by arnicae to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
You have to pinpoint the problem for us. A picture would help. We need to know the axis on which the shade is tilted. Are the legs of the harp fitting unevenly into the base? Where were you inserting the paper clips?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:02 PM on November 12, 2012

Response by poster: The harp fits cleanly into the base on all the lamps. I was inserting paperclips between the harp and the lampshade below the finial to try to raise one side of the shade.
posted by arnicae at 4:12 PM on November 12, 2012

Take the harp out, and without the lampshade on it, bend one of the arms slightly so it sits at a more correct angle, i.e., so the bolt on the top is vertical. You may have an eccentric harp, but you won't notice that once the shade is on. A bit of trial and error should do the trick.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:25 PM on November 12, 2012

Typically, the fixture that the finial screws onto will also rotate on the harp. Apparently it's called the "shade rest".

In which way is the shade off-level? If you look at the harp from the "front" [you can see both "legs"], is the shade off left-to-right or front-to-back?
posted by chazlarson at 4:37 PM on November 12, 2012

Yep, bending is your friend... and someone to look at it from a 90 degree angle from where you are helps as well. It needs to be level from both perspectives.
posted by HuronBob at 4:42 PM on November 12, 2012

Don't insert anything where you put the paperclip. That's a haywire solution. The finial should be screwed down firmly onto the harp to hold the shade in place.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:58 PM on November 12, 2012

Screwing the finial down firmly simply insures that the shade will follow the off-kilter bend of the harp. Back the finial off one or two turns so that the shade can "float" and it will level itself.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:25 PM on November 12, 2012

I bet you a half buckaroo that the shade won't balance itself.
You are assuming a perfect weight distribution with no influence from the crooked harp bolt or bumps from people or pets.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:55 PM on November 12, 2012

Response by poster: Ok, tried a few things
- the shade doesn't "self-balance" when I back the finial off
-the harps of all of the lamps in question (three different manufacturers, one modern, two vintage) are all extremely heavy duty, none will bend even when Mr. Arnicae and I exert our combined pressure
-all of the harps are seated in their holders securely and correctly, and the holder ear-things don't bend easily either.

I can upload pictures, but the ones I've taken so far don't really help much other than show an off-balance lampshade and harps/etc that look fine without the lampshades added. I'm certain operator error is involved since basically ALL of our lamps with lampshades are not straight, to varying degrees, but I'm not sure what else to do.
posted by arnicae at 7:24 PM on November 12, 2012

Plan B: Unplug the lamp, take out the bulb, put the harp on the lamp, screw the shade on the harp firmly, and bend the wire arms on the lampshade (there probably are three, arranged like a Mercedes Benz logo) to make it level. You shouldn't have to bend them much, but you might have to over-bend slightly so they spring back to level the shade. Don't rotate the shade after you do this; it must stay in the same orientation, or you're back to square one.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:53 AM on November 13, 2012

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