A while back, we came across two traffic cones at Goodwill. I figured that I could make a nice Christmas tree for my wife's classroom, but she decided in the end that they should go in front of the house. This is a fun up-cycling project.
Note 1: Use of power tools and spray paint can be dangerous. Use proper safety precautions.
Note 2: Make sure you obtain the cones in a legal manner. Stealing public/private property is illegal.
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Step 1: Materials and Tools
String(s) of LED Christmas Tree lights (I used two 60 bulb strings for the larger "tree")
Spray Primer (I used Krylon)
Spray Paint (I used Krylon for this too)
You may also need rubbing alcohol and cotton balls
Note: If the tree is to be displayed outside, make sure the lights and paint are meant for outside use.
A drill and drill bits
A sharp knife
a Sharpie or other marker
You may also need a putty knife and/or pliers
Step 2: Clean It Up
Used traffic cones are dirty and may have oil or tar and other chemicals on them that could cause problems for the paint. Many cones also have reflector that will need to be removed. Both of ours' did.
Depending on whether the reflectors are glued on or "welded" on, you will need to remove them in one of the following manners.
1. Glued: Peel off the reflector. A knife might be useful. soak glued area with rubbing alcohol and let it soak in for a couple of minutes. Soak again, and scrape with a putty knife. This will make a mess!!!
2. "Welded": Using a sharp knife, carefully slide the blade between the cone and the reflector, and slice the reflector. Now, peel the reflector from the cone.
Now clean the cone off with warm soapy water or alcohol (you can use both, but not at the same time).
Step 3: Marking
Mark the cone with the marker in the locations in which you want the lights. Make sure to make as many marks as you have lights. If you don't like the place, wipe the mark(s) off with a little rubbing alcohol.
Step 4: Drilling
Now it is time to drill. Find a bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the LED bulb. Drill a test hole near the bottom of the cone to easily check and make sure the bulbs will fit and not fall out of their place. (Picture of the light bulb). It is also a good idea to test your light to make sure they work.
Once you are sure that you have the right size drill bit, start drilling the holes. The sharper the bit, the better. 120 hole was tiring, but I did it in one sitting. This makes a big mess, so make sure that you drill in a place that is easy to clean.
Step 5: Priming and Painting
Using primer is always a good idea. I did not prime the first tree, and it took a couple of days to dry. (note: The second one still had to dry overnight).
Spray several light coats.
Follow the primer's direction on how long to wait before spraying the top coat.
Spray several light coats of spray paint. Make sure the paint is completely dry before moving.
Note: Vinyl and carpet paint (Dupli-color makes one) might work better the normal spray paint.
Step 6: Wiring It Up
Uncoil the strings of lights. Start at the top of the cone. push the bulbs through the holes. The first ring or so are easier to push through using the hole in the top. Long arms help with the others towards the top. So does a partner with a set of pliers. Keep pushing the bulbs though until they are all in their place. This step may take some time, so you may want to watch a video or TV show that you have seen before while you do this.
Step 7: Plug It in and Enjoy
Now you have a nice decorative tree. Enjoy it.