Whether you own a home or rent the smallest apartment in Manhattan, we all have those nooks that are in need of two things – lighting and a little storage – where furniture just won’t fit. So, when we saw a brass version of this floating shelf with a built-in light we decided to take on the challenge of creating our own affordable version that was the perfect solution to the problem!
There are a lot of steps to this DIY, but don’t let that scare you away. It’s not as hard as it looks! And if you’re a novice at wiring, then this project is the perfect place to start (and, might we add, it’s a skill that comes in super handy). So go ahead and give it a try. Like spring cleaning, you won’t regret it!
All the materials for this DIY can be found online and at your local lumber yard. I went with unfinished maple for myself, but you can use any species, or even plywood. Here’s what you’ll need to build a light shelf of your own:
- 1″x6″ wood shelving, cut into two 14″ long pieces (pro tip: make sure your wood isn’t too thick to sit in between the shade rings of your socket!)
- three screws, at least 2″ long
- cord (I used 6′ of this twisted cotton wire)
- socket with two shade rings and a switch
- strain relief
- edison bulb
- hangers (I used 2 D-ring hangers like these)
- Drill with drill bit, screwdriver, and hole saw attachments
- small screwdriver
- wire strippers
- needle nose pliers
Step 1 // Start by wiring the socket. Strip about 1/2″ of wire on one end of your cord using wire strippers (pro tip: if you’re using cotton-covered wire, cut the cotton away first using sharp scissors.). Slip the strain relief and the socket cap and threaded washer onto the wire and push it down about 6″, out of your way. To make up your socket, wrap the copper from the white wire around the silver screw and the copper from the black wire around the gold screw. Use the needle nose pliers to get the wire tight around the screws and then tighten the screws with a small screwdriver. Reassemble the socket and attach the strain relief. Tighten down all screws.
Step 2 // Next, wire the plug. Strip 1/2″ of wire on the other end of your cord. Disassemble the plug and slip the cover over the wire. Makeup the plug the same way that you wired the socket, making sure the copper from the white wire is securely wrapped around the silver screw and the copper from the black wire is securely wrapped around the gold screw. Reassemble the plug and tighten screws down.
Step 3 // Assemble the shelf. Position your shelf with the horizontal piece of wood below the vertical piece. Once you have the pieces positioned drill three holes into the bottom board and up through the vertical board (pro tip: use small clamps to hold the shelf pieces together while you drill out for your screws). Screw in the screws.
Step 4 // Drill the hole for the light in the shelf. Assemble the hole saw attachment on your drill. The hole saw diameter should be wider than your socket but smaller than the outside diameter of your shade rings. Drill the hole through the horizontal piece of the shelf (pro tip: drill about 2/3 the way through the wood from the top and then stop and drill the rest of the way starting from the bottom to achieve a clean edge on the top and bottom of your hole).
Step 5 // Mount the Shelf. Attach hangers to the back of your shelf (I used D-ring hooks). Since you’ll likely have an unbalanced load on the shelf, it’s best to mount 2 hangers, one on either side of the back of the shelf. Pick a location for your shelf light that’s out of reach of kids, animals, and clumsy adults. Once you decide on the location, attach the shelf to the wall.
Step 6 // Insert the light in the shelf. Slip the socket into the hole in your shelf and thread one shade ring on either side of the shelf. When you’re done with this step, you should have a ring on either side of the shelf holding the socket in place.
Step 7 // Screw the bulb into the socket and plug your light in!
There you have it! The perfect shelf light to brighten up those dark corners of your house!
A quick note about safety: faulty wiring is dangerous so ask your electrician if you have any questions about correctly wiring your socket and plug!
photography and DIY by cathy poshusta for coco+Kelley