DIY Corbel Sconces are a quick and easy project that look great anywhere and can be used with many different kinds of lights.
Almost all DIY projects are born from the sudden realization that you can make or do something “professional” for a fraction of the price of “real” professionals – often with better results!
When we first moved into this house, we wanted an 8-foot-long x 3-foot-high dwarf wall to close off a large room entry off the main foyer. At that time, I barely knew a hammer from a ham sandwich, so naturally, we hired a “professional” to build the wall.
That puny little wall cost us over $1000, and still the contractor couldn’t manage to get the drywall right. To this day, there’s an obvious seam where the dwarf wall meets the regular wall. Oh, and that $1000+ didn’t include him actually painting the new wall to match or him painting the new window trim that he installed!
It’s a good thing I watched him, because I realized how little there is to building a wall. Shortly after, I built a few in our basement and in our garage. And after years of practice, I feel like I’m a better drywall taper than any contractor out there that isn’t actually a drywall specialist. Those guys are awesome!
Since then, Handan and I have DIY’d our way through hundreds of projects, from the very big, like our guest bathroom renovation, to the very small and simple like the DIY corbel sconces I’m going to show you today.
The funny thing about today’s DIY is that we actually bought a pair of these sconces for Barish’s bedroom makeover before realizing we should be making them!
Handan spent several nights combing through just about every sconce for sale on the internet. I don’t know how she does it – my eyes glaze over after one page. I would have been like, “yep, that one’s good enough for ya, Boy!” NEXT!
But not Handan!
Hours and hours and hours she searched. She’s got a mind like a computer when it comes to things like this. Not only can she quickly scan like 10,000 products from all over the globe, but she remembers every damn one of them!
You should see her browser when she’s doing stuff like this – it’s wall-to-wall tabs! How does she know which tab leads to which page?
Probably not even her.
Anyway, she finally narrowed it down to her favorite 3 dozen or so. Then I stepped in and whittled the list down to about 10.
Ten was a good number to show The Boy.
“BOY!!!” I shouted up at his room. It was a weekend, and he had his headphones on while he and his friends conspired to wipe out an enemy encampment on some teen-infested digital battlefield.
“BOY! Come Down!”
[From far away] “…yeah..?”
The typical teen response: lazy, leery and late. Shouts upstairs often ended in work for him, so I could understand his leeriness.
We were finally able to coax him out of his cave with the promise of a Coke and no work.
Of the ten offerings, he chose the following from Amazon:
We ordered two, and The Boy returned to zapping aliens or whatever the heck he and his friends do in their digital hangout with their lasers and combat boots.
When they arrived and I opened the box, I just stared at them in disbelief.
Why the hell had we bought these, anyway?
And why the hell did we pay $120 for them??
I really couldn’t understand it! I left the box open for Handan to see when she came home from work that night. As she inspected the lights. I informed her that I’d be shipping them back.
I could make those corbel sconces!
Anyone could make those corbel sconces!
I’m pretty sure our gerbils could team up and make those sconces!
So back to Amazon they went, and down to the basement I went. I already had the scraps I needed, but for those playing along at home, a 6-foot piece of 1 x 3 pine will make two of these sconces.
DIY Corbel Sconces Supplies List
DIY Corbel Sconces Tutorial
First, I cut the 1 x 3 into four 10-inch pieces and two 8 1/4-inch pieces.
Then I cut 45-degree angles with a miter saw on both ends of two 10-inch pieces.
Before assembling the corbel sconces, I drilled the wire holes.
To drill the two holes in the top overhang, I first measured and marked 5/8 inch in from the front edge and 3/4 inch from the back edge.
When drilling pine with a bit as large as 5/16 inch, tear-out is common on one or both sides of the wood. To prevent that, I sandwiched the board between two pieces of scrap. I had previously drilled a pilot hole in the scrap, so I just aligned the center of the pilot hole with the mark on the sconce board.
The project board is the middle one in the sandwich below. A clamp kept everything nicely in place and ensured that there would be no tear-out from the drill bit.
The more complicated hole was the angled one through the diagonal support piece. If you’ve ever tried to drill on an angle, you know what I’m talking about! But there’s a simple trick that makes angled holes a breeze! First, you’ll need a scrap piece with a 45 degree cut.
I used a scrap piece of 2 x 4, and I marked the center of the face and then measured and marked back 3/4 inch. I centered my 2 x 4 scrap on the diagonal support piece of my DIY corbel sconce and then clamped it all together. Note: I didn’t yet have a scrap piece under the diagonal support piece to prevent tear-out in the picture below. After these pics, I put it in there.
Keeping the drill as perpendicular to the surface as possible, I drilled through both pieces.
For that first hole, I started with a small drill bit and worked my way up to 5/16 inch. I realized though that with a scrap piece beneath, I could start right away with the 5/16 inch bit like in the picture below.
With the holes cut, it was time for the super simple assembly of my DIY corbel sconces.
I marked a line 3/4 inch down from the top of the other 10-inch pieces.
Next, I put a bead of wood glue on one end of the small piece (the end with hole that is 3/4 inch in).
I then placed the glued end just below the line and secured the pieces together with 3 brad nails.
Fitting the diagonal support couldn’t be simpler – I just moved it around until both angled ends were resting flat against side and top pieces.
I put some glue on the two angled ends, situated the diagonal in place and then secured it with brad nails.
With that, the corbels were built and ready to be sanded.
I used 150 grit and just rounded the edges, dulled the corners and got rid of any mill marks and mill shine. With the sanding done, my corbel sconces were ready to stain. My initial thought was to give them a coat of Minwax Weathered Oak, followed by a coat of Minwax Special Walnut. It’s a combo that’s worked for me in the past.
But this time, the result was too light and not at all what I was going for. I didn’t take a picture but instead grabbed a can of Varathane Kona. I knew it would give me the color I wanted.
When the stain dried, I gave my corbel sconces a couple of coats of Greg’s Wonder Finish, the easiest and most forgiving finish I’ve used!
Greg’s Wonder Finish is made by mixing equal parts Varathane Satin Spar Urethane, Boiled Linseed Oil and Mineral Spirits. It’s applied with a rag like any wipe-on poly. Once it’s had a chance to soak in for a couple of minutes, I wipe off all the excess. I do 2-4 coats of this, depending on the project. Since these sconces won’t be handled, I just gave them two coats.
After the finish had dried, it was time to install the lights.
But first we had to cut the cord. Yep, there’s no way to do this project without exposing a little wire.
Now look, here’s the part where I have to warn you that if you don’t know what you’re doing with electricity, you should probably find someone who does. The last thing I need is for you to go zapping yourself and then pointing your smoldering blame-finger at me!
Okay, with my electrical safety disclaimer out of the way, let’s carry on. So after snipping the cord near the plug end, I threaded it up through the overhang…
…and then I pulled all of the slack until the light socket was just below the overhang.
Then over the top and down.
And finally out the bottom of the diagonal piece.
Ta-Daaaa! I told you it was easy!
To mount these DIY corbel sconces to the sides of Barish’s Billy bookcases, we decided to use Command Strips. Hell, if they’re still holding up our simple DIY coat rack and our DIY mudroom organizer, they can certainly handle these sconces!
To make the Command Strip’s adhesive stick better to the wood of the sconces, Handan first covered the back of the sconces with duct tape. This is a little trick of hers that we’ve had great success with.
Then we placed the Command Strips over the duct tape.
I used a level to help me mount the corbel sconces. Handan then tidied the wires using cable organizers, and we screwed in the bulbs.
If you’re following along with the teen bedroom makeover, here’s how we stand:
Teen Bedroom Makeover Checklist (for The First Room)
Teen bedroom ideas and laying out the game plan DIY alcohol ink switch plates
- Paint the walls
Build 2 IKEA Billy bookcases Build a daybed Hack IKEA Kallax into a TV stand Create an accent wall Buy or DIY plugin sconces
- Make wooden wall art
- Build a small chess table
- Build 2 guitar display frames
- Buy a new desk
- Change the fan
- DIY fired alcohol ink art
- Hack IKEA metal side tables
- DIY Craftsman style trim
- Hack other IKEA furniture
- Makeover and organize closet
- Buy or DIY throw pillows
- Decorate the room
- Barish’s first room reveal
Click here to see more teen bedroom makeover posts as we continue to cross items off our checklist!
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