Introduction: Inexpensive Kitchen Light Upgrade, Using Pallet Wood

About: Jack of all trades, master of none.. I have been a mechanic for 16 years. As a mechanic I am a plumber, an electrician, a welder, a computer tech, a diagnostician, and so much more.. In that time I have also b…
Just a little background info.. Recently we bought ourselves a nice little chunk of land to do all sorts of projects on. It came with a 1979 manufactured house. Now the house is in great shape, it does need a little..... updating... It hasn't been touched much since 1979. Everything is a learning experience and thought some of you out there might be in the same situation and don't know how to fix your problem. Well, here is how I fixed mine..

So here I am updating to more energy efficient, more spaced, and better looking lights in the kitchen.. What it had before was some recessed fluorescent tube lights. They had those translucent plastic panels still from the 70's. You know how old plastic turns some ugly colors. Well this was the case, so they had to go. Problem here is since they were recessed they leave large gaping holes and replacement ceiling panels was not an option.. Walking through our local hardware store we found an amazing deal on some 3" recessed LED lights. We snatched all they had left and now just had to figure out how to put 3" round lights in 4' rectangular openings.  (Back in the square and round peg game days as kids this would have been considered cheating)

P.S. Dont mind the lack of finished other projects in the pictures like the unfinished painting.. All in time it will be done..

Step 1: Out With the Old, in With the New

Note of safety, always turn of breakers to the circuit that you are working on before working on it.

Removing the lights was easy. I first took out the tubes and found 4 flathead screws on the edges.. Unscrewing them released the ceiling joist hangers and the lights fell out, literally. Honestly wasn't expecting them to come down cause I didn't know how they were held in there.. Pulled the wire nuts and took them out to the shop where they will probably be turned into shop lights..

Next I had to decide where I wanted the new lights.. I wanted to space them out better throughout the kitchen and needed to cover the big gaping holes that came from the old lights. I decided to use a thin sheet of plywood as a backer for the fascia. A full sheet uncut was the perfect length and width for the kitchen except there is a pantry in the way.. Artistically I cut and overlapped and area.. Perfect.  Screwed the plywood to the ceiling where I wanted it. The canvas is set, I now have a good base for the lights.

From there it made it really easy to determine a good spacing for the new lights.. I found centers, drilled a center hole, and used a dremel tool with the circle hole adapter and cut some holes. I ran some wiring and popped in the canisters for lights to see how I liked it. Yep lighting looks good, now lets make it good looking.

Step 2: Make It Purdy

My subject (the lights) and my canvas (the backing boards) were there and in place.. Time to create.. My wife likes country styling and is not a perfectionist... Perfect, easy and cheap..
Old barnwood is all the rage now. I have found in our desert like area that taking a pallet and setting it outside for a summer will age wood look fast. That and having some already aged pallets just hanging around I had a barnwood like choice of wood.. Let go with that..

On a side note, old pallets are difficult to take apart without destroying them..

I tore apart a bunch and sorted them by width and actually usable boards. Then I just started picking boards of the same width and cut them to length. I used an air brad nailer to hold them in place. I found that pallet wood warps over time and its not all the same thickness. Every edge doesn't line up together in height or straightness.. Perfect, that is character..

The area where the holes for the lights are was the toughest part.. I made sure the wood thickness was about the same around the light holes. Then I used the dremel to cut the holes. and just kept going. I cut one row at a time, preplanning doesn't work very well when your working with odd sized pieces.

Step 3: The Wrap Up.

Time to finish this project and move on to another.

You could leave the edges showing, but you also see the plywood beneath it. I decided just like great artwork I wanted to frame it.. One day in a shipping companies parking lot I found a bundle of low grade 1x2's for free.. I snagged them up, and here it is time to use them.. Yes they don't match the barnwood, but that is what accentuates it I think.. So I went ahead and framed it.

Bam, done!!!
Only around $130 into this project.
Enviromentally friendly new energy saving lights
Happy wife!!!!!
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