Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Re-thinking builder grade lighting

Custom lighting is a great way to elevate a space from functional and boring to fun and soaring. But custom lighting is extremely expensive. Why not re-think your existing fixtures? There just might be the basis of a fun fabulous custom one off designer light.

Our entry way is our jump off point for this project. We have a builder grade light, that again, is functional but doesn't shout out with any personality. Let's kick it up so that it shouts with uniqueness!!

the final product

Stage 1, take some time and really consider some different possibilities for a light. Think about materials you like, the way your lights being used currently, and the way its constructed. All of this will help you come to a clever and hopefully successful new and fresh approach for it.

stage 1, assessing the boring builder grade fixture

Stage 2, the new idea. Once you've designed something in your head and have the plan of attack go for it. I've found this to be the most crucial stage in any project. Idea's come but the execution of the idea often stays in my head. JUST GO FOR IT!!

For my fixture I'll be using the following materials: Some of the existing light fixture, 1ea. 4x8' galvanized corrugated sheeting, mdf, 3/8" sisal rope, and self taping hex head screws 8-18x3/4"

stage 2, galvanized sheeting and mdf

Stage 3,  getting started. In this project the first thing was to know my fixtures overall dimension (it's going to be 18"dia.). Cut out 2pcs of mdf @ 20" square these will be the structure for the entire project. Take a few course drywall screws and screw in to the squares in a few places (this will help keep the pieces together while cutting out.

stage 3, cutting outer diameter of supports

Stage 4, sand outer diameter. Using a 60 grit paper sand edges and if needed true up the diameter just a bit (it doesn't need to be perfect).

stage 4, sanding the O.D. and edges
stage 4, profile of both pieces

Stage 5, preparing and cutting the inner diameter. I would like the width of my fixture to be 1 1/2" a quick way to do this is by using a piece of 2x4. Take your 2x4 and a pencil and set at the edge of the O.D. take your hand and grab the 2x4 extend your fingers down far enough that they touch and follow the O.D. With your other hand get your pencil ready to follow and scribe the line as it moves around the O.D. (it's awkward but works well). Once inner diameter is scribed drill a through hole large enough for a jig saw blade to fit then cut out the I.D.

stage 5, scribing the inner diameter
stage 5, drill a through hole for saw blade and cut

Stage 6, sand the inner diameter of supports. Sanding process is the same as the outer diameter with one exception each ring is sanded individually.

stage 6, sanding inner diameter of supports

Stage 7,  paint the supports. I want this fixture to have a modern rustic look so I'm painting it out in an espresso tone. Let dry and move on to next stage if project allows.

stage 7, painting out the supports

Stage 8, cutting the galvanized sheeting side panels. The galvanized sheeting comes in 2'x8' sheets. My project needs 2pcs @ 24" square. This leaves the fixture with open sides and will allow another material to be used giving the fixture more interest. Measure down the sheet to 24" and scribe a line with a sharpie then take metal snips and cut your sheet. I totally recommend using gloves when working with this material.

stage 8, cutting out side panels

Stage 9, adding a bit more touch of modern. I like the look of light reflecting on walls and shinning through light fixtures. With this fixture we made random circles to help achieve that look. Using a can we scribed random circles, drilled a hole at the edge of line, snipped them out, and that's it a modern fun look .

stage 9, scribing random circles
stage 9, drill through holes and snip

Stage 10,  drilling holes along the side to add sisal rope stitching. Stack the two side panels on top of each other and drill stitching holes. The sisal rope is 3/8" so you want your holes a tad bit larger 7/16" works well. Be sure to drill in the channel and space every 1"-1 1/2".

stage 10, looking at stitch holes

Stage 11, attaching side panels to support rings. I created a simple jig to help a 2x4 long enough to hold both rings and the panel. Using an impact driver and the self taping hex heads secure panel at every channel. Attach one side at a time following the edge of the support ring. Once that side is done start installing the other side the same way. Rotate your fixture and install the other panel. Keep in mind the gap between panels you'll need to center the panel and equalize the two gaps.

stage 11, installing the side panels

stage 11, what fixture should look like at this stage
stage 11, the fixture with both panels and equal gap

Stage 12, stitching the sides with sisal roping. Estimate the length of rope needed and be sure to cut extra (if the ropes to short you'll have to start over) not fun... Also tape the end of rope it will make it easier to thread the holes. Make a knot at one end and start at the top hole and lace down skipping every other hole.

stage 12, stitching the sides

Stage 13, adding the mounting hardware for the fixture. Our existing fixture had this frame that held the glass globe. This frame is going to be perfect for re-attaching the new light fixture and using all existing mounting hardware. I just needed to pre-drill holes that would allow me to attach the frame to the new fixture. This reverts back to the first stage assessing what and what can be done. The more effort in the front end of the project hopefully results to less problems at the end.

stage 13, pre-drilling screw holes for mounting
stage 13, mounting frame attached and project hanging

This was another project that easily became a favorite when finished. Now when you walk in to the house good bye boring... you can't help from seeing an extremely unique, rustic, but modern, custom light fixture that cost less than $20 bucks, no joke!!

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