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Sunday, 21 August 2016

School Holiday Project 39: Making A Wooden Truck Bed Lamp

Having helped my little nephew to use his new tool set and wooden blocks to build a car, we both were inspired to try our hand at our own design. I figured we'd go one step better and include some electrification in the new project as well. The little boy was very keen to learn about yet another new dimension in life and that is how it came to be that we built him a wooden truck that would serve as a bed light! I show you step by step how to attach the electrical components. You won't believe how easy this is to do yourself.

My nephew had received a set of wooden blocks that inspired us to build the truck. We used the basic idea for the car, but adapted it, having added some of our own wooden blocks as well.

I couldn't get the design to stand upright, but laid the blocks out in their proper places so that I would have a photo reference to refer back to if we got confused later on.

We needed to cut the masonite board, that we added, smaller to fit the design. My nephew was very keen to do the sawing himself, but I realized that he would not be able to manage the precision cutting just yet and opted to do this part of the project with him only holding the board down.

I then showed him where to glue all of the wooden pieces and he stuck them in place. His clumsy little fingers made a real mess of the glue and we had glue dripping from all of the connecting spots, but the glue is easy to wipe away and clean up, and it was more important for him to learn about building than it was to learn about cleanliness. We both ended up having a fab time!

With the basic structure of our truck in place, we decided that we wanted to change the design slightly. We would put a roof on the truck cabin and move the light fitting to the back of the truck.

Our off-cut would work very nicely for a roof and we both decided we liked the slight overhang. If you don't, you may want to saw it to fit more exactly.

We then decided that 6 cold drink caps would serve well as wheels, since we did not have any round wooden pieces left over from the set. The lamp fitting also fit very well on the back of the truck.

Having given the glue proper time to set, we drew the windows onto the cabin with a pencil. We also added some lights at the back and the front, as well as a grill between the front lights. With older kids, you could even consider making these lights work. Perhaps we can do another project like that later on.

I wanted us to paint the truck, but my nephew decided that he wanted to use markers. It was his lamp and his blocks, and I decided to let him have free reign here. He used my Pentel Paint Markers for the coloring.

He and I definitely had different ideas about coloring the truck and this soon became evident from his multi-colored approach.

I did not interfere with his ideas.

When he was done, he critically surveyed the truck and decided that paint would have worked better after all. I agreed and we decided to use Dala Craft Paint to paint over the markers.

Finally, the truck was painted and we had to wait only a short while as we worked with a quick drying paint.

I did not want to use an electrical drill to make the holes for the lamp fitting, but showed him how he could use his tools for this same purpose. We tapped a screw into the bottom of the truck.

Then we used his new screwdriver to drive the screw through the wood. Reversing the rotation of the screwdriver, we simply unscrewed the screw again once it broke through on the other end.

We made two holes in this way.

We then pulled the two ends of our electrical cord through these holes from the bottom.

The lamp fitting simply unscrews, giving you free access to the hard to reach places.

This is what the fitting looks like when it is disassembled.

Simeon then unscrewed the screws inside the fitting.

The two open ends of the wire were stuck into the holes. Any wire can go into any hole.

Finally, he secured the wires in place by tightening the screws again.

The lamp fitting was then reassembled.

We then screwed the lamp fitting onto the bottom of the truck, again making use of sharp pointed screws to penetrate through the wood.

Our fitting was now securely attached to the truck.

This is what the truck looked like at the bottom at this stage.

We now needed to attach the switch. This may seem daunting to you if you've never opened one of these up, but it is extremely easy to attach.

Loosen the screws at the bottom of the switch.

Pop the switch open and loosen the screws on the inside.

Decide on a convenient distance away from the lamp and split the wire in two for a short distance, slightly longer that the length of the switch.

Cut only one of the two wires. You can cut any one of the two wires. Strip the plastic away for a short distance on both ends of the cut wire.

Here you can see my exposed wire more clearly. Roll the copper wires between your fingers to compact them into one thread.

Slip the wires under the loosened screws of the switch. Again, it does not matter which wire goes under which screw. What is important, is that both are attached to complete the circuit. If you flip the switch, you will see that it moves a copper plate that breaks the circuit in the 'off' position, and completes the circuit in the 'on' position. Tighten the screws again once the wires have been inserted.

slip the second wire into the switch casing, roping it around the other side of the switch.

Click the switch cover back on.

Tighten the screws at the bottom to secure the casing.

I had exposed wire sticking out at one end of my switch. Never leave any wires exposed as these could lead to electrical shocks, short circuits, or even fires. I covered the exposed wire with insulation tape.

Now it was time to attach a plug to the other end of the wire. Some plugs need to be unscrewed and others, such as the one I used, is simply clipped open. Insert a flat screwdriver into the hole at the bottom, twist left or right and the plug will open up.

Put the cover of the plug aside. Unscrew the two screws at the back of the plug. There is no earth wire and the front leg of the plug will not be wired.

Insert the wires into the holes under the screws and tighten the screws once again. Any wire can go into either side of the plug.

Clip the cover back on. Check to make sure that there is no exposed wire. Insulate any wire that may be exposed.

With the paint now properly dry, I used a chisel point Posca Marker in Black to outline the windows, grill and lights of the truck.

I then used Genkem contact adhesive to attach the lids/wheels of the truck. Wait patiently for the glue to dry.

It was time to go in search of a bulb and I came across this blue one. That would work for a little boy's room!

We were finally ready to put the project to the test. There are no words to describe this little boy's delight at having made something both fun and useful that actually worked! I have to admit, I still feel exactly the same way every time I do something like this as well!

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy the books here:
You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
Jy kan Kom Ons Teken en Verf Tuinstories hier koop.
Jy kan Kom Ons Kleur Tuinstories In hier koop.
Jy kan Tuinstories hier koop.
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