Saturday, February 17, 2007

Custom wooden light soffit

Yippee! Looks like Bergie’s going to have a chance to get reacquainted with his workshop! If you didn’t know better by reading this blog, you’d think I enjoyed home improvement over woodworking. Oh, to the contrary!

At this point in the upstairs bathroom project, I’m about 85% finished with the plaster crack repairs. I’m taking a little break from the plaster repair to mock up the light box that I’d like to add to the bottom side of the soffit above the sink.

The image to the right shows the current lighting in the bathroom. That light fixture on the bottom of the plaster soffit houses three bulbs behind the frosted glass; certainly not enough by today’s primping standards (so I’ve been informed).

To improve the lighting in the bathroom, I’d like to add four halogen lights within a shallow, trim-enhanced, wood soffit which would be attached to the bottom of the plaster soffit shown above. Those four lights should provide much better light to the sink area, and the moulding around the visible edges of the wood soffit (the front and right side) should add some nice lines to otherwise “flat” area.

To the right is a photo of the mock-up that I just got approved by the commissioner (my lovely wife). I’m using two pieces of moulding intended for other household trim applications, but I think by combining the two I can achieve a great-looking home for the new lights. I’ll create four sides with the vertical moulding to form a box but leave the smaller moulding off the left and back sides so I can butt those sides right up to the left wall and mirror. I’ll also rabbet the inside of the bottom edge of all four sides so I can add a piece of wood (most likely plywood or MDF (medium-density fiberboard)) to form the bottom of the box, where the holes for the lights will be cut. Below is a recap of the wood moulding I’m planning on using.

Rabbetted stool
The vertical sides of the wood soffit box are rabbetted stool moulding which is intended for use when trimming a window. A “window stool” is the flat horizontal shelf at the bottom of a window. I like the rabbetted stool for this light box for a couple of reasons. First, the 2-3/4” height will ample for the soffit box I want to build. Also, the rounded over edge will make for a nice detail for the bottom of the light box.

Base cap
The base cap moulding has great detail that will add some intriguing depth to the front and right side of the box. This base cap is intended for use as moulding along the top of flat base moulding along a floor. Let’s say you’re using 1” x 4” wood for base moulding at the base of your walls. The base cap – with the fattest part of the moulding on the bottom – adds some nice detail to the flat base moulding. For my box, I’m flipping the base cap around so the fattest part of the moulding will be along the top edge.

Both of the mouldings above are offered by Georgia Pacific and sold at Home Depot (at least in the Midwest).

Here’s some more information about the mouldings:
- Rabbetted stool: item number WM 1194, 11/16” x 2-3/4” pine
- Base cap: item number WM 163, 11/16” x 1-3/8” pine

Since the housing of the lights I’m using are taller than the wooden soffit I intent to build, I’ll still be facing with cutting holes into the plaster soffit that’s currently above the sink. However, that should not be a big issue, because before I thought of this wood soffit idea I thought I was going to have to cut holes for the four lights in the plaster soffit anyway. Now, since the holes in the plaster will be hidden by the wood soffit, I don’t have to worry about how clean the cuts are into the rock-hard plaster. (Previous attempts to cut into the plaster around my house have left rather rough edges.)

Once the wooden soffit is built, I’ll attach it to the bottom of the plaster soffit with L brackets.

Off to Home Depot for the rest of the moulding! Yippee!

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