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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Project: Christmas Lighted Glass Block


Make your own Festive Lighted 

Christmas Glass Block



This glass block Christmas project is simple and elegant and requires minimal time to complete, yet still achieves a very nice, warm look for the holiday season.

Here's what you'll need:

A strand of straight-line mini lights. Straight-line lights are lights that don't have a large female end. A large end would cause problems, as the hole you're drilling is too small to accommodate anything but the lights themselves.*

A glass block, available from most home stores (Home Depot, etc):
Glass Block


 
A glass drill bit, also common:
Glass drill bit Glass drill bit
Safety Glasses:
Safety Glasses
A dust mask for any airborne debris is also recommended.

You will also need some mini lights, and ribbon of your choosing.

Caution! Always follow all safety instructions set out in your drill's instruction manual. Failure to do so may cause injury or worse. Always wear proper safety equipment, including safety glasses, gloves and dust mask. Proceed at your own risk. Author takes no responsibility for any injuries incurred. Play safe.


Begin by using the glass bit to drill a tiny pilot hole in the side of the block. Really, you're just trying to get a small guide hole in place. Once the hole has been started, some people spray a little water, oil or mineral spirits to keep the bit cool and increase its longevity. I chose to use olive oil as it was all I had handy. You only need a few drops. Align the drill directly over the hole and continue drilling. When drilling the hole, be careful not to apply too much pressure as this might crack the block - think slow and steady. It is tempting at times to speed things up by adding more pressure, as it's easy to forget that you're drilling into glass, but try to refrain, as this will only lead to problems! I find that a direct and steady drilling, with little movement, works best. Many people use a drill press for this, so that might be the way to go if you have one.
Starting to drill
After a few minutes of steady drilling, I had a hole!
A Hole in the Glass Block
For some reason, I was under the impression that mini lights were smaller than they were when I purchased the glass drill bit, which was only a 1/4", because when I went to feed the lights through it was not even close. To correct for this, I had to actually drill another hole directly beside the first hole. When the second hole was nearly complete, the section between the two holes chipped away easily, to my surprise. Avoid this by buying a larger drill bit! At this point, the hole was still proving to be a tight squeeze for the mini lights, so I got out the trusty Dremel (knock-off) and used a grinding stone bit to expand the hole ever so slightly. This worked much better (and much quicker) than I anticipated. I only had to grind for about 20 seconds, if that.
Grinding a bigger hole.
After drilling the hole, you may have dust and glass bits inside the glass block, as I did. I half filled the block with water and shook it vigorously. The problem with this is that after emptying the water from the block, it does take some time before the block is completely dry. Not a big issue, obviously. This block was set out over night and was dry by the next morning.

At this point, we fed the mini lights into the glass block...
Feeding mini lights into glass block.
...and tested the lights again, before going any further.

~Once the lights were fed through, a ribbon was attached. Many people choose to paste Christmas images to the side of the block instead - the choice is yours! ;)

And you're done! Enjoy your festive masterpiece :)



****Make sure that your mini-lights have a female end (in other words, they were straight-line lights). Buying lights without a female end will make the job much easier.

Here is our new Christmas gift project! Finished and super sparkly! Love It!
Thanks to HouseHacker for the detailed directions!

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