Tomato-Cage Light Display

See how an ordinary tomato cage and strings of mini lights combine to make a brilliant work of art.

tomatocage

INSTRUCTIONS

Mount the post cap
Remove the dowel screw from the post cap with pliers or cut it off with a hacksaw. Mark four equally spaced hole centres around the perimeter of the bottom of the post cap, 3/8″ [.95 cm] in from the edge. Drill 5/8″ [1.59 cm]-deep holes to accept the tomato cage legs, angling them to match the taper of the tomato cage. (We used a 3/16″ [.48 cm] drill bit.)

TIP: All four holes must be the same depth for the post cap to sit level. To ensure uniformity, attach a masking tape “flag” to the drill bit to indicate the 5/8″ [1.59 cm] drilling depth.

Mark two equally spaced eye-screw pilot-hole centres between each pair of leg holes, 3/8″[.95 cm] in from the edge of the post cap and drill the eight holes. (We used a 3/32″ [.24 cm] drill bit.) Drive in the screw eyes with pliers, aligning the eyes perpendicular to the edge of the post cap (like the minute dashes on a clock face). With the tomato cage upside down, insert the cage legs into the angled holes in the post cap

Weave in vertical wires
Measure the distance from the bottom cage ring to a screw eye. Double this measurement, add 6” [15.24 cm], and cut eight pieces of 20-gauge, four-strand wire to this length. (We cut our wire 112″ [284.48 cm] long.) Thread one piece of wire through a screw eye to the midpoint. Bend the wire at the midpoint and use pliers to tightly pinch it onto the screw eye.

Starting at the top cage ring, wrap one leg of the 20-gauge wire once around the ring, pulling the wire snug. Proceed to the remaining rings, wrapping the wire once around the second and third rings and several times around the fourth (bottom) ring, pulling the wire snug at each ring. Run the wire straight from top to bottom. Cut the excess wire at the bottom ring. Repeat with the second leg of the 20-gauge wire. In turn, insert the remaining seven wires into the screw eyes, wrap them around the rings, and trim the excess wire.

Add another ring
Mark the tomato-cage legs halfway between the post cap and the top ring with a permanent felt-tip marker. Make an additional ring by wrapping a piece of 20-gauge wire around the legs at the marks, cutting it so the ends overlap by 2″ [5.08 cm]. Cut four 11″[27.94 cm] -long ties from 22-gauge single-strand wire. Centre the 20-gauge ring overlap on one cage leg at the mark and use one tie to bind the 20-gauge ring to the leg and wrap the overlapping ends together. Bind the 20-gauge ring to the other three legs at the marks with the remaining ties. When binding the ring to the cage legs, wrap the tie wire diagonally across the joint, alternating the direction one way and then the other to make wire bundles resembling little baskets.

Cut eight more 11″[27.94 cm] -long, 22-gauge wire ties. Gather together each pair of vertical 20-gauge wires where they cross the just-completed 20-gauge wire ring and bind them to each other and the 20-gauge ring with the ties. Use the same alternating diagonal wrap as before.

Finishing up
For a decorative effect, cut 22 additional ties and bind the vertical 20-gauge wires to the tomato cage rings in a random pattern, using the alternating diagonal tie wrap.

Then, spread newspaper, cardboard, or a drop cloth outdoors on the ground or driveway and spray paint the entire piece. (We used oil-rubbed bronze colour paint.) With the paint dry, move the cage to the desired location, wrap with two strings of decorative lights, and plug them in.

PROJECT DETAILS

Estimated cost: $19* for one + paint and lights

Skill level: Beginner

Time Estimate: 4 hours

Project resources:
Project Diagram

Tools:

  • Electric drill
  • 3/16″ [.48 cm] and 3/32″ [.24 cm] drill bits
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutter
  • Hacksaw
  • Permanent felt-tip marker

Get it at Lowe’s:

  • 1 – 54″ [137.16 cm] galvanized tomato cage (#159911)
  • 1 – 100′ [30.48 m] roll Anchor Wire galvanized steel wire; 4-strand, 20-gauge (#52687)
  • 1 roll The Hillman Group galvanized steel wire; 22-gauge (#62940)
  • 1 – 12-ounce [340 g] Anodized Bronze Tremclad spray paint (#277827)
  • 8 medium screw eyes
  • ¾” x 25’ [1.9 cm x 7.62 m] red oak iron-on edge banding (#16545)
  • 2 Gemmy white balls mini string lights (#330058)

*Does not include taxes, which vary by market, or the cost of tools. Pricing for commodity items may vary due to market conditions.

Products and prices may change; check your local Lowe’s store for details

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