On a recent job, I installed a row of recessed-light fixtures in a customer’s kitchen ceiling. These fixtures have adjustable bulb sockets. Generally, by the time a fixture is installed and the trim is attached, the socket is almost always out of position. If the bulb positions are not the same, the whole installation looks sloppy, so it’s important to get them uniform. The first time I did this, I spent a lot of time installing the first bulb, removing it to adjust the position of the socket to my best guess, reinstalling the bulb, and so forth. None of this was helped by the fact that the R-40 flood-lamp bulbs requested by my client virtually filled the light-fixture’s cavity, making it necessary to use only my fingertips to screw the bulbs in and out. As you might imagine, several of these expensive bulbs were casualties to this awkward handling. By the time I finished, I was convinced that there had to be a better way to do this job.
The solution was simple. As shown in the drawing, I made a T-shaped depth gauge that registers on the light-fixture’s trim ring. The vertical leg of the T is equal to the distance from the socket to the face of the light bulb.
To set a socket’s depth, I loosen its bracket’s wing nut enough so that the socket will slide up and down, yet stay put without support. Then I hold the gauge against the trim ring, and either raise or lower the socket as necessary. Tighten the wing nut, and you’re in business.
Bert Dawkins, Northport, NY
Edited and Illustrated by Charles Miller
From Fine Homebuilding #168