When you set a lamp post with anchor bolts into concrete, it is a two stage process. First you must set the anchor bolts and then pour the concrete around them, and then you will set your post onto the bolts as they will protrude from the concrete base. Setting anchor bolts into concrete is an activity that requires a great deal of concentration and precise measurement. As frightening as that sounds, the process is doable and ultimately requires that you are willing to check and double check your measurements before the concrete is poured. Anchor bolts that are set incorrectly will not allow you to stand and connect your lamp post safely.
Begin by measuring the base plate of your lamp post where your bolts will be attached. Transfer those measurements to a piece of plywood and cut out the shape. This will be your bolt template
Measure the centers of each bolt hole and transfer those measurements to your bolt template. Use a drill and paddle bit (sized to match the diameter of your anchor bolts) to drill out the bolt holes. Typically, the base of a lamp post is square with four bolt holes; your template should be an exact matching square with four drilled holes. Hold your template up to the base plate and it should match exactly.
Consult your blueprints for the exact center location of the base plate of the lamp post in the concrete form you are about to pour. Typically, base plates are put onto piers; a pier may be separate from all other structures or be built into the wall. Your prints will show you the exact location of the center.
Locate the center of the base plate in the actual form. Most often you will have to mark the center points on the sides of the form, then set a nail into each of these points and connect them with string to create a cross. The center of the cross represents the center of the base plate.
Measure out from the side marks of your form to where the center of the bolts are in relation to it on two opposite sides. For example, if on the north face of the form you have a center mark and you know that the center of your bolts is 4" from the center of the base plate, you will place two marks on the north face of the form, one 4" to one side of the center mark and one 4" to the opposite side (i.e., the south face). Duplicate these marks on the opposite face of the form.
Cut two pieces of 2x4 the exact width (from inside face to inside face) of your form between the two faces that you marked in Step 5.
Nail the 2x4s in place between the two marked sides of the form. Make sure that the 2x4s are turned on their edge and that they are placed so they run between the two centers of your bolts but will not hit the width of the bolt. For example, if your bolt is 1" in diameter and the center of the bolt is 4" away from the center mark of the base plate, then you want the outside edge of your 2x4 to be 3-1/2" from the center mark of the base plate. Make sure that the top of each 2x4 is set to the top of the grade of the base plate. Check your blueprints for the correct grade. Grade is another term for "height from the ground (or the point used as reference on site)." Nail both 2x4s in place.
Lay your bolt template on top of the 2x4s and under the string cross. Center the bolt pattern on the center of the string cross and nail it in place to the 2x4s.
Place the anchor bolts through the holes in the bolt template with the "foot" of the anchor bolt in the concrete. Anchor bolts are typically shaped like an "L" with the bottom part of the "L" shape being referred to as the "foot." Pull the anchor bolt up and spin the nut onto the base of the thread. Carefully wrap the entire portion of the anchor bolt (and nut) above the template with duct tape to prevent any concrete from fouling the threads.
Pour your concrete. Once it has cured, remove the forms (including the bolt template) and take off the nuts. Lift your lamp post and lower it onto the bolts. Tighten the nuts into place to complete installation of your lamp post.