So, I am not an electrician. My wonderful husband is not an electrician. BE WARNED!
But, moving into our new home and redesigning our kitchen did not allow for the room, concept, or budget to purchase an electrician and my sanity did not allow living with this nasty yellow island lighting one. day. longer.
This is what I was working with...
So, I needed to figure out a better way, without knowing what I was doing at all.
I inherited some old random barn wood from my church that really are just scraps. But really, you can use any pieces of wood you have lying around. Because I was working with reclaimed barn wood, I chose to not stain the final product, but if I was working off of newer wood (like my trusted $3 14 ft untreated white lumber from Home Depot) I would simply stain it to look more rustic.
Any way, I chose some wood and I thought it would look good with points at the end (like the arrow look that is so in right now). So I grabbed 4 different pieces (since they were so short) and screwed them together using more scraps. It ended up looking like...
I based the size of this overall piece upon my island size and the beams in the kitchen ceiling (use a stud finder) that I will be screwing this into. So in total, this wood piece ended up being a little over five feet. I made sure my little scraps of wood connecting the back were where the studs were in the ceiling (mine was about 46 inches apart) just to give a little more oomph to screw into the beams in the ceiling. I marked the distance of the two beams and pre-drilled holes into the wood piece where I would be securing it to the ceiling. Still with me?
I bought my pendant lights from Amazon and I LOVE THEM! They have those expensive looking bubbles in the glass so they are so pretty when on, reflecting a design on the ceiling. I also just love the industrial look.
I had my wonderful hubby drill three large holes into the wood for my light fixture.
And then I took the light fixture and fed the wires through those holes. I used the previous (UGLY!) light fixtures to measure how long I would want my pendant lights to hang and I made sure to feed the wires appropriately to be that length. I used black screws secure the light fix to the top-side of the wood and just screwed right on into the wood.
So here is the fun electrician part!
(Disclaimer: This was the hardest/most annoying part of this whole project.)
So imagine for a second you have three (or two or four) light fixtures but only one connection/electrical box. You need to connect all of the like-colored wires together to recreate what you would be working with with a single light fixture.
So connecting all of the white wires (easy!) as one, all the black wires (also easy!) as one and all of the copper/ground wires as one (WARNING! VERY HARD!) in order to then connect them to the single electrical box wires.
Here is a picture of what I mean...
The white wires and black wires were plenty long enough to twist together and create one single white/black wire....problem with this image is that the copper/ground wire was TINY. I needed it to be 20 inches like the other wires were but each copper wire was only about 6 inches.
So off to Home Depot.
I talked to a nice elderly gentleman (who looked like he himself was present for the invention of electricity) who assured me that the thick ground copper wire could be connected to the 6 inch thin copper wire by simply using wire nuts.
These are wire nuts.
Also known as twist on connectors, wire connectors, cone connectors, or thimble connectors.
Image from www.idealind.com
This was not easy to do since the copper wire I got from Home Depot was so thick and not easy to work with. But it worked. It ended up looking something like...
See those pretty green dots in the diagram above? Those are actually representing the ground screw for the copper wire. Usually when you are working with wiring up one fixture, there is a metal plate that has a green screw used to attach the ground (copper) wire to the fixture.
This is the green ground screw.
This doesn't work for the 3 fixture-in-1 lighting that we are building.
(Image is from makeit-loveit.com)
So, not sure if this step was necessary, but I took that plate pictured above and I screwed it upside down into the underside of the wood fixture and still used the green ground screw to secure the copper wire for each of the three fixtures. Here is a close up of what I'm trying to explain (but I'm sure I lost y'all a while back!)
Again, not totally sure if this part was necessary, but I thought "What the hey! I have these included pieces, might as well figure out a way to use them!"
So after all of this was secure, we carefully moved our wooden-3-light-fixtures-in-1 creation to the kitchen island and got ready to install.
- First step here is to shut down the power for the electrical outlet from your electrical box thing-a-ma-jig. You do not want to get electrocuted.
- Second step is to make sure the old fixture that was there is removed.
- Third is to have a 2 person team get up on the island (or table) and get ready to secure all of this and hope that it works! Ha!
My husband went off of blind faith for this project. He truthfully had no idea what I was doing but still was willing to help me install. He is the best!
So, out of blind faith (and some YouTube video help) we worked to connect all the wire mess from my wooden-3-light-fixtures-in-1 creation to the single electrical box. We "simply" connected the white wires, black wires and all of those annoying copper wires together with XL wire nuts. I say simply because the copper wires were so hard to work with and it took about 10 times (not exaggerating!) to finally get each copper wire neatly screwed together into the large wire nut. (These terms KILL me!)
Once it was all connected, my husband actually held it in place just hanging like you see in the diagram above and I ran to turn the power back on and had lightbulbs in the fixture to make sure it worked great and that nothing sparks or lights on fire! And Viola! No fires and all light bulbs were a go!!!
We then carefully screwed the whole wood piece up into the ceiling using predrilled holes in the wood. (I already had the beams in the ceiling marked so I knew where to screw in.) I used 4 inch screws to make sure it was very secure through the wood and that this thing wasn't going to move once installed. And we screwed the wood real quickly into the studs/beams in the ceiling.
I was so excited to see the lights on with the fixture in place, so I ran to turn the switch on....and.....
....the stinkin' middle light wasn't working!!!
Luckily, we had just a little bit of a gap in the middle of the light fixture where we could still see/adjust the wires and my husband used his handy iPhone flashlight to find out the black wire from one of the fixture became undone. And here I was thinking the copper wires were going to be our downfall!!!
We used tweezers to reconnect the black wire...tried again...and this is what it looked like: