Introduction: A Finger-Saving Light Switch.
Our house was built long before refrigerators grew to become the size of a small garage. Ours is the maximum width for the space carved out for it at the end of the kitchen counter. It comes almost to the door leading to my workshop.
There's a double switch plate with 2 horizontally operating flip switches that control the shop lights as well as the kitchen light. It's mounted next to the door in the usual place, but the oversized refrigerator covers all traces of it.
Since I'm in the shop several times a day, I have to poke my finger behind the refrigerator to flip the switch. I have to be extremely careful how I pull my finger back out. Being in a hurry, I often lever my finger between the switch and the refrigerator... And let me tell you, it hurts!
No wonder I become paranoid whenever I head to the shop.
Now, I've solved the problem with my new 3D printer.
Step 1: Print & Assemble
You'll need a 3D printer or a print service to make the parts. I didn't spend much time engineering this, preferring to wing it (like a 10 year old), but the fit and tolerances are very acceptable. If I were to make this again, I'd probably forego the additional .050 I added to the ends of the slots, but in this case, it's better to err on the long side. The switch works well for me and that's all I was looking for.
The faceplate isn't rafted to keep the exposed surface as shiny as possible and because of that, the shallow countersink for the attachment screw is unsupported and will be a little rough. A quick twist with a drill cleans it up nicely.
The handle is designed to be attached with a #4 screw. 3D printers normally print holes smaller than designed, so I decided to open the receiving boss in the handle with a drill as well. If you're using a low durameter plastic, you may not need to do this.
The handle and slide have an alignment tab that keeps everything centered and squared.
Once you have the parts, slip the handle ends of the slides through the slots in the plate and rotate them into position, snapping the guides into the rails underneath. They should move smoothly with no wobble. If not, file the parts so they slide freely.
Next, screw the handles onto the outside faces of the slides. If needed, use a shim to raise the handle up enough to slide over the surface of the mounting plate.
You'll notice a couple of rectangular tabs underneath the plate. Our wall is painted blue and I like the fact that I can easily see if the light is on. If I see blue, it's off. If you don't like the color of your walls, or just want a white or fire red slot, cut a thin (.020" or so) piece of plastic or stiff paper to fit the area defined by the tabs and paste it to the plate before screwing it to the electrical box.
Remove the old plate and replace it with the new one.
Wa-La... No more bruised or broken fingers. :)
Step 2: Working the Lights
Operation is simple. Instead of "flipping" switches, I now "slide" them. The switches, once hidden behind the refrigerator, are now completely exposed. The new plate screws onto the existing electrical box with no modifications and the switch works immediately. I even used the existing screw to put the new plate on.
Step 3: Extras...
Here's a little more information about the build in images taken from Sketchup. If there are unanswered questions, I'll add more images or alter the little comment thingies to make this project as clear as possible.
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Ain't technology great? :-)
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