This year, I needed to upgrade the display infrastructure. A number of items in the display are getting refreshed for this season. One item on the to-do list can be scratched off: new window frames for lights.
There’s a bit of history leading up to these frames. I first started hanging lights around the bay window on the front of the house about 5 years ago. At first, it was simply running strands of C9 lights around hooks. All the lights are on SPT-1 gauge wire, which easily twisted in the cold weather. As a result, the bulbs were pointing in all sorts of odd directions. Over the course of the next few years, I considered commercial kits, some nifty ideas from others, and went down the PVC path. However, I didn’t feel any of these solutions met all my requirements:
- Hold the lights uniformly
- Hide the wires
- Don’t look cheap
- Easily mount, display and store
This year, I set out to correct that by making wooden frames to hold lights. Here are the results:
I cut the frames to simply match the window frames, using 1×3 boards primed and painted white to match the house.
The frames were measured and cut to length with the help of a handy mitre saw.
The socket holes were drilled with a 7/8″ bit using a basic drill press. The lights are spaced at 3.875 inches (on center) the full length around the frame. Arriving at the spacing was a function of determining the overall length and finding what spacing worked consistently. I wanted consistent spacing from corner to corner, and discovered that determining the run distance between sockets is not simple. I’ll post a follow-up that explains how to determine the distance.
The strands are assembled in-place, and all pieces are put together to form the light strand. The frames are constructed for 3 light strands each (I use white/red/green ceramic C9 lights.) The order of construction:
- Push the socket through the hole from the front. (The drilled hole is properly sized to allow the socket to push through, but not allow it to pass through entirely.)
- Lay down the wire across the back of the socket. Two small pointed tips in the socket will puncture a small hole in the wire, allowing metal contact and making the connection.
- Push in the socket backing to lock the wire in place. (This isn’t necessarily an easy proposition. I had the aid of channel lock pliers to squeeze the back onto the socket.)