Introduction: Secret Light Switch
This instructable will explain how to hide a light or fan switch behind a cute deer head. Perhaps you have an old switch with that beige 70s color or it's in an odd spot on your wall that's just calling for a piece of art (like me!). By using just a few things I had laying around the house and this inexpensive cardboard deer head I was able to hide an ugly fan switch behind a much prettier piece of wall art.
- cardboard animal head
- x-acto knife or utility knife
- foam board
- picture frame
- 2 - 6-32 x 1" machine screws and washers or the original screws
- packing or masking tape
- possibly some Gorilla glue or hot glue
Step 1: Preparing the Foam Board
Before you start any of this you will want to have your animal head. These days cardboard (or pressed wood) animal heads are popular and easy to find online. Do a search for 'cardboard animal head' and you'll find quite the menagerie (but without the captivity nor the rest of the body). Once you have your animal head assembled I would suggest gluing any of the pieces that might feel loose. As you can see in step 3, I have used Gorilla glue to fix the mounting base to the "neck".
Onto the foam board...Essentially your foam board will serve as both the new switch plate and frame matte. Remove the glass and cardboard from the frame. It's not needed to for this instructable. Cut out a piece of foam board such that it fits inside the frame. I used a cheap picture frame that I got from a dollar store. It's the type that has bendable tabs on each side. After cutting out the foam board, it's time to cut out the switch and screw holes.
Remove the switch plate from the wall and put the screws in a safe place. Place the switch plate onto the center of the foam board and use it as the template for the holes. Trace the switch rectangle and screw holes onto the foam board. Then use an X-acto or utility knife to cut out the center rectangle. A pen or awl can be used to punch out the holes for the screws.
Step 2: Prepare the Back of Your Animal Head
First, make sure the back of the mounting plate is flush with your foam board. Unfortunately I did not get the photos of the 4 tabs on my plate's backside but you can see where I cut them off. Again, it's a good idea to put some glue down in those joints to hold it together.
The next step is to provide the holes on the mounting plate where the switch and the screws will go. However, you will NOT be cutting these holes out exactly as you have drawn them - rather, they will serve as a guide. The key is to make sure they match up with the holes on your foam board. You can either use the switch plate or your foam board as the template to draw the cutouts. Where you place the template on the back of the mounting plate is up to you. I did my best to center it, while thinking about where it would be when it was in the on or off position.
The center rectangle will now be a 10mm (3/8") square and the holes will be long ovals. The square should be just big enough to fit the light/fan switch. And it needs to be centered within the rectangle that you drew.
The screw holes should be elongated to allow the head to move up and down. Each screw hole needs to be about a 1/2" long oval. Where the template circles are drawn place another hole adjacent to the top and one adjacent to the bottom. Then use an x-acto knife to clean it up. It doesn't have to look pretty as it will be hiding behind the head.
It's a good idea to place the mounting back over the light switch to make sure it fits and the holes line up. That's the idea behind the last photo.
Step 3: Put It Together and Check Your Work
Before we mount it to your wall switch let's make sure it all fits together without the light/fan switch. With the foam board in the frame place the animal head on top. Take your screws, either the original ones or, if those aren't long enough, you can use a pair of 6-32 x 1" mechanical screws (though the length can vary depending on thickness), and push the screws all the way through. Now simulate turning the switch on and off by gently moving the head up and down. If you're not moving a full 1/2" you might need to adjust the length of the screw holes on the mounting plate, or make them slightly wider if it's not moving easily. You also should not be able to see any foam board under the center square as you move it up and down.
Step 4: Attach It to Your Switch
You're down to the homestretch! Let's first make sure the frame and foam board screw holes line up to the light/fan switch. With the switch plate removed screw in the screws. You don't need to go all the way - just make sure they line up and the light/fan switch is sticking out of the rectangle. Turn the switch on and off. Also, the frame should be flush against the wall.
Time to put it all together! I found it's much easier to join the pieces if you tape the frame to your wall. With the screws still holding the frame in place use some packing tape or masking tape to keep the frame stationary. Now remove the screws but keep the tape. The frame should still be in the same place.
Take your animal head and place it such that the switch is through the center hole (just like in the 2nd step but now with the foam board between the wall and animal mounting back). Now comes the tricky part -- lining up all the holes for the screws. Holding the animal head take a screw and place it through a hole. It's hard to see the holes so it will be trial and error but you've already tested this in previous steps so you know it's possible. Once you have the screw in the hole turn it enough to hold it there. Now do the same for the other screw. Screw it down but not too tight! You might need some needle nose pliers to help with this if it's hard to get to with your fingers. You need it just tight enough to hold everything in place but loose enough to move your animal head up and down. Voila! You have a new, disguised switch!
Runner Up in the
Secret Compartment Challenge