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How To Measure Replacement Rawhide Lamp Shades

Aug 18, 2007
Are we communicating? That might be the question that comes to mind when ordering new rawhide lamp shades or replacement lamp shades. It can be very frustrating because different people measure lampshades differently.

The whole matter is complicated by telephone conversations and internet ordering. If you know how you should measure a shade to get the proper fit and also communicate the correct size, you will avoid problems and receive the lamp shade you are expecting.

It doesn't matter if the shade is made of rawhide or not, there are a few tips you should know to correctly measure and order a shade and also terminology that will help you insure that the person receiving your order is on the same track. We create custom rawhide lamp shades for rustic western lamps and southwest home decorating. Because we encounter this issue all the time we have some tips that we use to insure the correct look for a lamp, even without seeing the lamp ourselves.

How to measure:
1. You will need to have three key measurements, bottom diameter, top diameter and height. The bottom diameter is the measurement across the bottom opening of the lamp shade. The top diameter is the distance across the top opening of the shade. The height of a lampshade should be measured straight up and down vertically, not along the slant.

This is where the confusion begins. When communicating the measurements different individuals and stores will place the three dimensions in different order, it's not standard, so be careful that you are not confusing the bottom and height measurements for example.

2. The height should be measured straight up and down, but some will measure along the slant. These two measurements can be quite different and cause the finished shade to be incorrect if confused. Always clarify how the height is measured. We have found that many people who measure the slant of the shade refer to it as the shade's length rather than height.

Height Measuring Tip:
The reason you should measure height up and down, vertically, is that the height measurement of your lamp from bulb socket base to top of harp is probably the minimum vertical height you will want to cover the electrical components with the shade

Height Adjustment Tip:
If you are considering a stock replacement shade, your lamp's overall height and look can be adjusted. The wire harp that holds the shade over the bulb is interchangeable. That is great news if a standard shade is say an inch to short. Rather than having to order a custom shade you could change the harp causing the shade to sit lower on the lamp to give you the desired look.

Shade Mounting Type:
A standard shade mount has a center bar across the top with a hole for the harp mount or a washer centered by three supports that attach to the top rim of the shade. Both allow the shade to be secured to the harp. Some smaller lamps and chandeliers don't use a harp but instead use a bulb clip to attach directly to the bulb. A bulb clip is simply two wire loops that are attached to the shade's center bar and grip the bulb.

An bulb clip adapter can be added to any standard shade to allow it to be placed over the bulb. Chandelier lamp shades usually have built-in bulb clips made for the small flame or candelabra shaped bulbs. Shades used as hanging lamps may use an uno mount which has a center ring large enough for the bulb socket to pass through. These also appear on some table lamps. You can use a bulb clip on a replacement shade instead of an uno mount.

Try putting these simple tips to work on your next rawhide lamp shade or replacement lampshade project and you will be sure to measure, order and receive the right size lamp shade the first time.
About the Author
Craig Chambers is a lamp designer who creates rustic western leather and southwestern rawhide lamp shades. He also offers extensive free home decorating tips and resources on his website www.missiondelrey.com
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