DIY woodworking projects for every budget and skill level

DIY Barn Beam Light Fixture

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Barn Beam Light


Rustic barn beam light, corrugated metal in the background,

This little light of mine – I’m gonna

let it shine.

Here at TheCraftyCatsman HQ – we like to use every bit of wood. Usually, this means that we have piles of small offcuts stacked higher than a pringles addict playing poker. The majority of this hand hewn barn beam was used for a mantel in our old house, I convinced my wife that we had to move this little guy with us, he wasn’t as dashing as he looks in this picture but we knew that he had potential.

DALL·E 2022-08-17 13.52.13 - _studious bro cat with hat and headphones and Dewalt safety glasses_, _sitting at a workbench with a clipboard_, _scrappy bro cat pointing to the clip

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Barn Beam Light Fixture.

Table of Contents

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Barn Beam Light Fixture.


I earn a small commission if you use these links

Barn Beam Light Fixture.


I earn a small commission if you use these links

You don’t have to use a barn beam but the reason I chose this piece of wood was because of the beautiful character given by the age and hand hewn cut. Important to note, I listed a black corded socket with a standard plug because the tan one that I have is no longer listed on amazon. If you aren’t able to hide the wire then realize that you will have a visible cord running to a plug. Amazon sells hemp rope cords that may be more aesthetically pleasing than the black cord that I have listed here. It really is a matter of preference.

Barn Beam Light Fixture.

Find your Beam

Let’s plan

You need a beam thick enough to house a light bulb, I would recommend 6″ at least. Finding a beam of this length should be “easy”. Most people hunting for hand hewn barn beams are looking to build something much longer. Our Barn Beam light fixture measures 4″x4″x 3.5′.

Cut your beam to the desired length.

Hanging barn beam light, unfinished

Barn Beam Light Fixture.

Lay out your Design

Let’s plan

I love this lightbulb. It’s long, has smoked grey glass and edison style filament (even though it’s LED).

The first thing to do is determine where the bulb will go. Take a pencil and trace the outline of the lightbulb and the lightbulb socket on to the wood.

Edison bulb and barn beam, rustic lighting, ambient light

Barn Beam Light Fixture.

Hollow out the Core

An important step but easy to overlook

This is an arduous process but not a complicated one. I tried all sorts of tools to efficiently hollow out the core, the method that worked best for me was my hand drill and forstner bit set. I drilled holes as deep as I could within the traced line. I made the socket side pretty tight and gave some extra breathing room around the bulb.

I then used my hammer and chisel to clean the wood up. I repeated this process until the bulb and socket fit snug and straight. It’s okay if you went too deep on some parts, the key is to have enough of the wood touching the back of the bulb (we are going to use superglue later).

In this picture you can still see some of the forstner bit remnants – that’s okay, you can’t see it unless you’re looking directly up.


inside of barn beam fixture

Barn Beam Light Fixture.

Test Fit and Light Distribution

An important step but easy to overlook

Critical step that you should not overlook: test the fit AND the light distribution. Set the bulb in and plug in the light. Eventually you will drill through and run the cord neatly but for now the focus is on light distribution.

During this test, I noticed some cool cracks that were a bit too narrow to allow for light to escape. I used a chisel to widen these cracks to allow more light to flow through them. I asked my wife to hold the light up above the bar so that I could see how the light hit the bar. I continued to remove wood and chip at cracks until the light distribution was exactly how I wanted it.

Do not rush this step. The goal isn’t just to make a light, it’s to make a light that looks exactly how you want. You can not go back and fix this, take the time and get it right before you move on.



Rustic barn beam light, corrugated metal in the background,

Barn Beam Light Fixture.

Drilling the Cord Hole

Out the top we go

This is a relatively easy step in building a hanging fixture. Dry fit the bulb and cord, allowing for a little bit of cord to stay in the fixture, mark a spot inside the hollowed portion of the beam where the plug should run through. Keep in mind, you will be screwing pipe fittings towards the middle of the beam, be sure not to drill a hold for the plug too close to the center. Remove the bulb and socket, then take a sturdy drill bit and drill through that mark from the inside out. You should now have a little hole at the top of your barn beam fixture.


Using a forstner bit that is large enough to fit a plug through (NOT large enough to fit a socket)  cut a hole from the top down.


DIY Barn Beam fixture - cord hole

Barn Beam Light Fixture.

Pipe Mount

Rustic and Sturdy

My DIY bar has pipe for a footrest as do the shelves that I made for the whiskey bottles. I wanted to tie everything together with this light fixture. I decided that two pipes connected to a beam would provide plenty of support for the fixture.

You can customize this how you would like but the most important part is to screw fittings into ceiling joists, do not attempt to hang a fixture like this with drywall anchors.

This picture illustrates my design. I ziptied the cord to the back of the pipe so that it was out of sight. I am using corrugated metal roofing (post coming on that soon).


DIY Barn Beam Fixture - pipe mount rustic

Barn Beam Light Fixture.

Finishing the Barn Beam

Throw what you learned about how to apply polyurethane out the window.

Oh boy, some purists are about to get their feathers ruffled. If you appreciate a good even layer of polyurethane then I advise that you skip this video. I broke the rules on this one. Barn beams are rigid, rugged, bumpy, holey things – that’s what makes them so cool.

To that end, you can not apply polyurethane in the traditional sense. Instead, use a brush and try to get into every crack and crevice after you have done this, feather the brush in a single direction. The easiest way to do this is to hold the brush at an angle and lightly brush the surface from end to end. 


Barn Beam Light Fixture.

Mounting the Fixture

Lets hang this baby

As mentioned above, we need to screw our fixture into ceiling joists. If your mounting this on a wall, then find the studs. Using a….stud finder :).

I screwed my fixture in using 2″ wood screws and then tested its strength by hanging on it. At 180lbs the fixture mount held up well.

After, I lined my barn beam up, this is without the bulb installed. My wife and nephew held the beam straight as I screwed the beam into the pipe fitting with eight wood screws. If your wood is thick enough, your screws should not be visible from the underbelly. If they do poke through then use smaller screws where necessary.

Make sure that this is a solid fit. I put about half of my weight on the fixture to make sure that it was nice and sturdy.


DIY Barn Beam fixture - pipe mounting

Barn Beam Light Fixture.

Barn Beam Light Fixture in Three Pictures

A quick summary for you.

Hanging barn beam light, unfinished


DIY Secret Bookcase Door, outswing secret door unfinished, white open


Hanging barn beam fixture, spalted maple bar, corrugated metal roofing, hanging lights


Barn Beam Light Fixture.

Run the Plug

A fixture is cool, but a fixture that lights up is cooler (technically warmer but whatever)

My basement is unfinished, I was able to tuck the cord behind my corrugated metal roof. I ran the wire behind the faux brick wall and plugged it into a smart socket. This allows me to turn the light on and off without any switches.

If you are installing this on to a finished ceiling then you likely used a pendant light.

DIY Barn Beam Fixture - pipe mount

Barn Beam Light Fixture.

Step Back and Enjoy

Congratulations, you finished the project!

Hanging barn beam fixture, spalted maple bar, corrugated metal roofing, hanging lights

Next Up.

Speakeasy Bar Arcade

Who wants a shiny duct taking the spotlight, not me.

Next Up: Hiding the AC Duct

AC Duct with weathered wood

Click the picture above to learn how I hid the unsightly metal ductwork. 


Click below to see all of my DIY Arcade Bar Projects.

TheCraftyCatsman - Speakeasy Arcade

A collection of projects explaining how I built my arcade bar for less than a contractor wanted to charge to put up studs. All free for my feline loving friends. 

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