A couple of friends got me a piece of wood many moons ago, and I finally decided to try to do something with it. About 5 years ago I made something for a friend's wedding that was a testtube vase sunk into one side of a block of black walnut and a tea light inset into the other. This is a similar idea except with some cool beacon-style edison bulbs to match the shape of the test tubes.
The lights I chose here are a lot brighter than I was expecting. If I were to make it again, I would install a dimmer, rather than just a switch (maybe I will still do so...), as it's quite hard to look at directly.
Step 1: Gathering the Materials
- Big block of wood - i am not sure what kind this is, but it smelled really nice while being milled
- 4 Test tubes (1 inch)
- 4 Beacon-style edison bulbs (1 inch)
- 4 light sockets (1 inch)
- Wire nuts
- Electrical tape
- Light switch or dimmer - must have a long neck
- Sufficient length of electrical cord
- Electrical plug
- Brass plate
- Brass screws
- Brass threaded inserts (optional)
- Drill Press
- Forstner bits
- Wood chisels
Step 2: Make Some Holes
First, lay out the plan. I used painters tape to lay out the design of where i wanted the holes for the test tubes and light bulbs to be, and then, the hole in the back where the wiring will be.
Then use a drill press and forstner bits to cut the requisite holes, four each for the test tubes and the light sockets. Drill a hole as well for the switch. Lastly, rout out the space for the wiring .
Step 3: Adding a Back Plate
To keep all the wiring and whatnot in at the back, you'll want some kind of covering. I used a brass plate, attached with brass screws. To make it easier to take the plate off and on as needed, I added some threaded inserts. This is optional, but I think the inserts make it look a little more polished. Unfortunately, the brass was a bit soft to drive into such hard wood just using a screwdriver, so we used the screw to drive in the insert.
Step 4: Add the Light Sockets and Wire It Up
Insert the light sockets and pull through the wires. I wired the sockets in parallel, so all of the positive wires get twisted together - positive wires from the sockets, the switch, and the electrical and all locked together with a wire nut. Likewise all the negative wires get twisted together and twisted into a wire nut.
Next, wire the plug to the cord at the other end. Make sure that the cord is securely attached to the plug and wrap with electrical tape where necessary to keep the wires separated.
Step 5: An Aside on Nipple
That's right, I said nipple. You might want to stabilize the sockets with some nipple so that they don't jiggle around. I forgot to get some at the hardware store, but I didn't want to have to go back out. What to do? Well, Patrick had the bright idea of using these coax cable connectors, drilling out the plastic, and using that. Worked like a charm!
(though, I didn't actually end up using it...)
Step 6: Put It All Together!
Throw in the test tubes and light bulbs, plug it in and turn it on!