Vertically mounted lighting provides an even intensity on all parts of a full-size black light puppet. Below are step-by-step instructions for making your own free-standing vertical light fixture. The materials list is for one light fixture. You may wish to build two fixtures, one for each side of the puppet or stage. You may also wish to add a switch to turn the lights on and off at the fixture. Keep a can of flat black spray paint on hand if these fixtures will be transported often or stored where they will be bumped a lot. Spray paint does not adhere well to pvc and the housing will need an occasional touch-up.
1 PVC pipe, 4” or larger in diameter (the pictured fixture uses 4” pipe, but the bulb extends slightly above the surface of the pipe. Use a larger pipe to prevent this.)
1 PVC closet flange to fit pipe
1 PVC end cap to fit pipe
1 Four foot fluorescent shop light fixture
1 Four foot black light tube
1 Heavy-duty male electrical plug
Heavy-duty electrical cord (at least 6 feet long)
1 Can of flat black spray paint
½” or ¾” plywood, approx 24” x 24”
5 ¼” x 2 ½” bolts
7 ¼” nuts
2 ¼” x 2” bolts
5 Med to large sized castor wheels (optional), and bolts, nuts and washers for each
Sander (or sandpaper and wood block)
Table saw or handsaw to cut pvc pipe
¼” drill bit
Large drill bit (large enough to cut a hole for the heavy duty cord to pass through)
Pliers (or wrench for nuts)
Rubber mallet (optional)
Find and mark the center of the plywood piece. Start a nail at the center point. Tie one end of a string to the nail and the other end to a pencil. The pencil should touch just at the edge of the plywood. Draw a circle on the plywood, keeping the pencil upright and an even tension on the string. Using the jigsaw, cut on the pencil line. Remove the nail. If needed, sand the edges of the plywood smooth. Spray plywood black.
Place the closet flange in the center of the plywood circle. Using the holes in the flange as a guide, mark the points on the plywood where you will need to drill holes for the 2 ½” bolts. Remove the flange. Drill holes for the bolts. From the bottom, thread the 2 ½” bolts through the plywood and the flange. Place a washer and nut on each bolt. Use the screwdriver and pliers (or wrench) to tighten the nuts onto the bolts. Spray flange black.
If you are mounting the optional castor wheels (pictured), you may do so now. Follow the same procedure as for mounting the flange. The bolt heads should be on the bottom (wheel side) of the castors, with the nuts on top of the plywood base.
Use the table saw or hand saw to cut the pvc pipe to be about 56” long. Measure a rectangular opening just large enough for your shop light fixture to slide into. This opening should begin about 3” from one end of the pipe. This will be the top of the housing. Draw the rectangle using the marker. You may need to drill holes at the four corners of the rectangle and use these starter holes to insert the jigsaw blade. Use the jigsaw to cut the rectangular opening. (The pictured pipe is 4” in diameter and the opening is 5”w x 49”h.) Spray the pvc pipe black on the outside only.
Remove the face covering from your shop light fixture and locate the two mounting holes in the back the fixture. With the fixture inside the pvc pipe, mark the location of the mounting holes. Remove the fixture from the pvc pipe and drill holes for the mounting bolts. Use the remaining washers, nuts and bolts to fasten the fixture to the inside of the pvc pipe, having the bolt heads on the outside of the pipe.
Use the large bit to drill a hole in the pvc pipe directly below the rectangular opening (it should be at least 1 ½” up from the bottom of the housing). Thread the electrical cord through the hole and into the light fixture. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to make the electrical connections. Replace the fixture’s face plate.
If your extension cord did not come with a plug end, attach one now following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Slide the pvc pipe into the flange which is mounted on the base. Slip the cap onto the top of the assembly. If desired, use the rubber mallet to ensure the pieces are completely seated. You may wish to drive a self-tapping screw through the flange and into the pvc.
Spray the cap black.
Place bulb in the fixture.
Plug in your new light assembly and enjoy!
© Greg Lichi