Wiring pot lights: A tutorial. Kinda.

8:35 PM Katy 5 Comments

My last tutorial (on building and tiling countertops and backsplash) turned into a waaaaay too long post. I'll try to keep this brief...it is an easier project so that might help.
I have never done this before, and I asked for some help before I started. I looked at a couple of electrical diagrams online, but to be honest they were confusing to me. I understand things much better when I can see pictures.
See this is the sort of picture I was looking for, but couldn't find. So I drew this one myself. You're welcome.

You don't necessarily need a permit to do this kind of thing, but if you're worried about that check into it. Or not. When I lived in Maryland we couldn't do anything without fear of huge fines, but of course they police it like that so they can force everyone to pay lots of $$$ to get a "permit" for every little thing. Considering how high the taxes were and what a [insert Maryland bashing here]. nevermind.

Back to wiring!

Because in this case this is an exterior wall, it was full of insulation and hard to thread the wire up to the ceiling. So I cut some extra holes. First the hole for the switch:
 Ignore that brown patch -- I ripped a door stopper off the wall and it tore off the top layer of drywall paper. Totally fixable.
 Then I drilled a hole in the ceiling to thread the wire into. Because you can't go directly from the wall cavity to the ceiling -- there's wood framing in the way. This has to be covered with crown molding or something (In this case, it'll be "or something").

This is where things started to go down the crapper.

My ceiling joists run this way:

And the potlights needed to be close to the joist. I cut the holes for the lights using one of my dad's 3" hole saws. And then I had to drill a hole through the joist so I could get the wire to the lights...
I had to use this:
I actually borrowed this drill from my neighbor cuz mine is battery powered and it sucks. But I had this right angle chuck. So I stuck this up in the hole and I simply couldn't drill through the joist. I fought it, but I wasn't strong enough and didn't have enough leverage to make it happen.
(wailing and cursing)
In my defense I am a very small person and I can't even open food jars. :(

So I broke out the paddle bits.
And although this time I managed to drill a hole through the joist, the drill skipped around wildly and I managed to hit myself in the forehead with the paddle bit. Which was totally stupid and dangerous. Here I am bleeding.
Okay, so it wasn't that bad. But always wear safety goggles cuz you could put your eye out. And I realized later that I haven't taught my daughter how to call 911 for me yet. (Good thing my neighbors are firemen and paramedics, right??)

That was the worst part. After that, wiring the lights together was easy. Here they are, not yet sunk into the holes cuz it's a little too tight and I might have to widen them just a teensy bit:

Don't worry the crazy stenciling and the bad greenish-yellow paint is going bye-bye....

You can see where I patched the wall holes. I'm covering this wall with wood, though, so I don't care about patching it very neatly.

This is my progress so far in the living room. I still have so much to do! But lighting is such a huge part of a remodel for me, that it had to be done. And I'm not paying anyone to do this for me (or begging some man to come over and do it -- my poor dad has enough work to do!)

Total cost on this project= $56 (Linking to Projects Under $100!) :)
Beyond The Picket Fence
And Remodelaholic Friday Party!

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  1. Very Cool. Let me know when you are going to come over and wire the accent lights in my home theater!!!

  2. whoa! you're persistent! You are a no-reply blogger. (I get my comments sent to my email which allows me to quickly reply to questions) However you don't have your email account hooked to your blog, so if I email you it wanders around blogland's black hole.
    To clamp the veneer, you can use a large scrap piece of lumber and weight it down on the top or tie it off to the bottom of the buffet.
    Make sure you use something that the wood glue won't stick to (like I used the painter's tape)
    good luck, and be careful with those drill bits! :)

  3. I am impressed! Love when a woman knows no boundaries. It looks fantastic. Hey, I kinda like the stencil :)

  4. You have got to be kidding me! Painting a piece of furniture is a complete breeze compared with what you do. I haven't been doing it long really...sand it w/ 150 going with the grain, prime it (I use spray cause it is quicker), lightly sand again w/ 220 and paint away. Glazing totally makes it too email me and I'll fill you in. Can't wait to see what you are going to do! Oh and Gail above me is right, you can't respond personally to you. Gotta change that, my friend! I had mine set the same way for a while until someone pointed it out to me. Have a happy night...Sue

  5. katy, Thanks for the comment! Susan told me all about your blog and I must say I am seriously impressed! I consider myself a pretty good DIYer, I grew up working around the house. But I got nothing on you girl! So excited to follow your adventures!


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