I can't vouch for the safety of this contraption. So far I've manged to not electrocute/set fire to myself or anything else but I'd still have to say - build at your own risk.
1. A 56qt/53L Sterilite plastic storage tub (on sale at Target for about $4)
2. 6x Feit Electric 13W CFL Blacklight bulbs ($5 each from Home Depot)
3. 6x plastic lamp holders ($1.50 each from Lowes. I chose these because wiring the connections are recessed a little into the mount)
4. 12x #8-32 washers and nuts (the screws came with the lamp holders)
5. 6-8 ft of wire (I used some 14 gauge wire I had laying around my toolbox. Probably overkill because if my calculations are correct (I doubt it) this thing only draws about 0.7A and 14 gauge is rated to 17A. I'm not an electrician so if anyone wants to weigh in with wiring recommendations...go for it.)
6. An extension cord or lamp cord or anything with a plug end. (I had the end of a cord from an old microwave or something laying around. You can probably pick up a cheap lamp cord for a few dollars.)
7. Krylon Fusion satin white spray paint. (About $4 from Ace Hardware)
8. Electrical tape
9. Wire nuts
Total Cost: Somewhere around $50
How it's made:
- A drill with assorted bits
- A screw driver
- A wrench, socket, or pliers to hold the nuts (god that sound terrible)
- Wire cutters/strippers
The plastic tub was originally clear. I searched for white plastic and black plastic or anything that wasn't clear but found nothing suitable. While they are out there, they were either the wrong size or didn't have a reasonably flat bottom. The solution was to spray paint the interior. Plastic is difficult to spray paint but the Krylon Fusion worked great. I washed the tub and let it dry before painting (they can be a bit greasy fresh from the store). No need to sand since the paint somehow bonds with the plastic. The finish doesn't appear to be in any danger of flaking off. I gave it two coats but it still glows through quite a bit.
The next part was kind of tricky. Actually more of a pain in the ass that smelled bad and made a mess. The lamp holders are meant to be mounted to a standard electrical box and the wires are meant to be tucked away behind them. I wanted to keep all the wires inside the box so I ended up drilling holes in the plastic lamp holders for the wires to pass through. The plastic is pretty durable and took a lot of swearing to drill through. Also, the drill bit gets hot and starts to melt the plastic some and it smells like someone threw a load of plastic forks into a campfire (it wasn't me I swear, I'm a better camper than that). Five of the six lamp holders need two holes drilled. The last holder in the chain only needs a single hole. Just be careful that you don't apply too much pressure while drilling because it seems like these things would be really easy to crack.
Once the holes were drilled I cut lengths of wire to run between the lamp holders. Strip the ends of the wire and attach them to the proper poles on the holders. These holders have two screws for each the hot and neutral connections which is very convenient. The final length of wire is a bit longer to run through the box. Once of these days I'll get around to securing it into place.