A GARDEN NIGHTLIGHT

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Introduction: A GARDEN NIGHTLIGHT

Here's a classy, ethereal nightlight that truly anyone can make.

No miter joints.

No weird angles.

All 90 degree cuts.

For about $75.

All you need are a few basic home carpenter tools, one not-so-basic tool, and a quick trip (or two) to the lumber yard. Really, when was the last time you went to the lumber yard and they had everything you need?

Here's some terminology I'm going to use thruout this Instructable. Starting at the bottom of the daytime photo we have:

  • 4 Posts. Yes, you can't see them.
  • 1 Big Ring. It's there too.
  • 5 Little Rings.
  • Another Big Ring.
  • Cap.
  • Topper.

Let's get started!

Step 1: MATERIALS

Go buy the following SEASONED pressure-treated wood. If it's green or wet, it will not accept paint well. Lesson sadly learned! Seek out squared off, crisp edge wood, NOT eased edges. It's often hard to find, but well worth it.

From left to right in the picture:

  • 2 - 2x2x10'L for the Posts. Yes it shows four. You only need 2 if you do everything right.
  • 3 - 1x2x8'L for the five Little Rings. You'll note that the 1x2's have eased edges. I went back to the lumber yard (I told you I would have to) and found some crisp edged wood. Much, much nicer.
  • 1 - 2x4x8'L for the two Big Rings.
  • 0 - 2x6x8'L for absolutely nothing. I have no idea why I put it in there.
  • 1 - 1x11.5"x11.5" for the Cap (and some 1x2 for the periphery cap edge).
  • 2 - 1x9"x9" boards sandwiched together for the Topper. Use any scrap you may have to get the look you want.

If you can't get pressure treated wood, consider an exterior wood waterproofer that accepts paint.

Paint.

  • Exterior acrylic primer.
  • White/whitish acrylic exterior paint for high reflection on the Little Rings, and for the Cap and Topper.
  • Second color acrylic exterior paint to match surroundings, like your house...

Wood powder filler. This stuff is much, much better than the paste. Trust me.

Exterior wood glue.

One box each of galvanized screws, 1-1/4", 1-5/8" and 2-1/2" lengths.

Outdoor Solar Gutter LED. I found mine at one of the Big Boxes. They're online too. Anywhere from $15 to $40 for a pack of 4 or 6. Way cool, easy to use. Just turn it on, and off you go.

Step 2: TOOLS

Most of these tools you already have. One you may not have:

  • Tape measure, carpenter's angle.
  • Circular saw or Miter saw.
  • 4 medium sized clamps unless you're unsure of your capabilities. I usually use a dozen.
  • Orbital sander and 60 or 120 grit paper. I recommend the 120. Smoother = Higher reflection.
  • Cordless drill and bits.
  • Jig saw.
  • Paintbrush.
  • And a Corner clamp- a hugely valuable tool. It makes tight, clean, 90 degree connections. You'll be the envy of the neighborhood.

Step 3: CUT AND SAND STUFF

No need for pictures of cut-up wood.

The dimensions noted below are approximate since I have found slight variations in the dimensions of the wood. Or it could just be me. Whatever you do, be sure that the interior dimensions of the Little Rings and the Big Rings are the same. And ensure that the EXTERIOR dimension of the upper Big Ring is a tad smaller that the INTERIOR dimension of the Cap, so that when you paint them, they still fit together.

I used my miter saw:

  • Cut the two 10'L 2x2's into four 5'L lengths for the Posts.
  • Cut the 8'L 2x4 into eight 9-1/2" lengths for the Big Rings.
  • Cut the three 8'L 1x2's into twenty 8-3/4" lengths for the Little Rings.
  • For the Cap, I used a scrap 1x12 cut to 11-1/4" square, then framed it with leftover 1x2's. This cap will sit nicely over about 3/4" of the top of the Big Ring. Why, you may ask? A full 2x4 Big Ring at the top seemed a bit too heavy. Covering 3/4" of it by the Cap gives it a better visual balance. Remember to build out the inner dimensions of the Cap a big bigger than the exterior dimensions of the Big Ring.
  • For the Topper, I sandwiched some scrap 1x boards and glued/screwed them together.
  • Cut a square hole dead center in both the Cap and the Topper...unless your Gutter Light is round.....duh.

Then fill any dings, cracks, etc with the moistened wood filler powder. Sand everything nice n smooth.

Step 4: GLUE AND SCREW STUFF- THE LITTLE RINGS

Using the Corner Clamp (love it, love it), glue and clamp two of the 1x2's together to create an "ell".

Use a small countersink drill bit if you have it.

Screw in one short screw per corner.

Once ten "ells" are done and dry, connect pairs of "ells" to create five Little Rings.

Use some wood filler to fill any gaps or cracks, etc. Sand down real nice once again.

Step 5: GLUE AND SCREW STUFF- THE BIG RINGS

Like the previous step, just bigger wood.

Don't forget to make sure the inside dimension of the Cap is a tad larger than the outside dimension of the upper Big Ring.

Step 6: EVEN MORE GLUE AND SCREW STUFF- THE CAP AND THE TOPPER

The Cap is 1x board framed with 1x2s to create a Cap. Screw at the corners to hold the 1x2's together like you did with the rings. Don't forget the glue. Toss some screws along the face of each 1X2.

The Topper is two 1x boards sandwiched, glued and screwed together.

Measure out and cut holes dead center in the Cap and the Topper so the Solar Gutter Light will rest nicely in it.

Step 7: PAINT STUFF

Be sure your pressure-treated wood has seasoned or it won't accept the paint well. Lesson learned.

For anything that isn't pressure-treated, first apply a hardener that accepts paint.

Prime everything that doesn't get the hardener.

Paint the Posts and the Big Rings the darker of the two colors. Probably three coats.

Paint the Little Rings, the Cap and the Topper with the lighter color. The lighter and whiter the better, so they better reflect the light from the Solar Gutter Light. I used the paint I had, but in hindsight, I'd use glossy finish.

No drips! If you find any, sand 'em down and start over. Drips are evil.

Step 8: ASSEMBLE THE STUFF AND INSTALL

All screws should be countersunk and filled with the wood filler, then sanded down and touch-up painted.

Lay two Posts on the worktable.

Set one Little Ring 3-1/2" from one end of the two Posts. Set a scrap 1x2 under the 2x2's at the other end, so the Posts don't go all wobbly when you're drilling.

Drill a pilot hole and screw thru the Little Ring into the 2x2's, one per Post.

Use a scrap 1x6 as a spacer to set the second Little Ring. Screw and repeat for all five Little Rings. Do a visual check before drilling each ring to ensure you've got nice 90 degree angles.

Gently flip the contraption over and repeat with the remaining two Posts.

Then set one Big Ring at the topmost Little Ring, and one Big Ring at the lowest Little Ring. Screw in place and stand it up.

For the Cap and Topper clamp them and glue and screw them together.

Gently tap the Cap/Topper onto the Big Ring. Screw thru the Cap/Topper into the Big Ring. Use wood filler, and sand.

Touch-up paint everywhere. A couple of coats.

Set the Solar Gutter Light into the Cap/Topper. Don't glue it as you'll need to eventually turn it off or change the rechargeable battery sometime.

Dig a hole so the bottom of the bottom Big Ring is about an inch from the finish grade.

The finished, installed Garden Night Light in the pictures here was constructed about five years ago. I built a new one for the purposes of this instructable. I have no idea where I'm going to put it.

Charge up the Gutter Light in the daylight. Wait for nighttime. Way cool.

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    12 Comments

    0
    Gusgonnet
    Gusgonnet

    1 year ago

    nice one! thank you for building an extra one for all of us to follow the process

    0
    CaptClaude
    CaptClaude

    1 year ago

    Pressure treated wood contains chemicals which are toxic. Although PT wood no longer contains chromated copper arsenate (CCA), it does contain either copper or chromium. Cutting should be done in a well-ventilated area (dust) and you should always wash your hands after handling PT wood.
    Always predrill screw holes within ~1” (2.5cm) of the end of a board to prevent splitting (generally a good idea for all screw holes).
    Be sure to use the right fasteners for PT lumber. Use only screws or nails that are galvanized and designed for use with the newer copper-based pressure-treated wood.
    PT lumber is great and safe when handled and machined correctly.

    0
    smbrown
    smbrown

    1 year ago

    The design is well done!!

    0
    cool kid girl
    cool kid girl

    1 year ago

    nice!:) to bad i can't make i. :(

    0
    hbmueller
    hbmueller

    1 year ago

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been looking for a diy backyard lighting solution and I’m going to give this a try.

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    1 year ago

    Very nice! : )

    0
    markjweaver
    markjweaver

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi Seamster. Did you find my project under "Recents"? (I see it is posted there), or under the Backyard Contest (I don't see it there yet).......

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    Reply 1 year ago

    I see your project in the site's recent feed https://www.instructables.com/projects/recent/, but it does not appear to have been submitted yet to the Backyard Contest. If you visit that contest page and submit it, it will be accepted shortly. Best of luck!

    0
    markjweaver
    markjweaver

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks! I've done a few variations on it. They really liven up the backyard.