The Hallmark stove ornament I’m using in my Christmas breadbox roombox comes with a cord sticking out the back that you’re supposed to plug into a string of Christmas tree lights. I cut mine off long ago, but the very ends of the wires were still peeking out. When I started the breadbox project, I tested the stove by touching wires attached to a plug to the exposed ends. It worked!
This weekend my parents visited and I roped my dad into helping me tie the stove into the roombox’s electricity. There are plenty of ways to skin a cat (yuck) and we came up with a good solution eventually, but only after trying out a few really bad ones. I’ve documented them all here so anyone who wants to try this in the future doesn’t repeat our mistakes.
The first idea was to solder new wires (attached to a plug) to the little bits of exposed wire left from the original fixture. We started by positioning the wire and taping it to the back of the stove so it would stay in place.
Instead of fusing the old wires to the new ones, the soldering iron ended up melting the plastic around the wires and making a huge mess. Okay, moving on…
The next plan was to remove off the back piece of the stove so we could get better access to the wires inside. My dad went around the seams with an Xacto knife and then carefully tried to pry up the back panel, but it appeared to be held with glue around the light socket. He got the other panel off (which holds a Glade gelpack that makes the stove smell like gingerbread when it’s heated up) but wasn’t able to get off the one we needed. I was really nervous about breaking the stove, especially since the side of the stove adjacent to this panel will be very visible in the roombox. So, after a while, we gave up on that.
My dad scraped away the melted plastic mess with the Xacto knife so we could at least see the tips of the wires again. Then I had the idea to insert brads and wrap the new wires around them. This is exactly how I hardwire lights into the tapewire, so I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me earlier.
We plugged it in, and it worked! Not only does the oven light up, but the burner under the teapot glows red.
I put everything in place and we admired our handiwork. And then I noticed that the two fluorette lights seemed dimmer than they had been before. As we watched they got dimmer and dimmer and… yeah, this isn’t going to work.
Only then did it occur to us that the light in the stove was much stronger (more watts) than a dollhouse bulb, so I’d need a bigger transformer to power it. (The one I’m using is a 10 watt transformer that should provide enough juice for 16 bulbs and I only had the two fluorettes plugged in besides the stove…) Plus the stove had some kind of heater inside of it, meant to heat up the Glade gelpack. The lights dimmed as the heat unit cycled, and the ornament and plug got really hot. Not good. And then to add insult to injury, I pulled on the stove without unplugging it and the wires twisted around the brads snapped…
Okay, so all that is what NOT to do. But it can be done, using a screw-base bulb and socket attached to a plug. This bypasses the ornament’s wiring, so the heat unit doesn’t go, and turned out to be very easy.
The first step was to drill a hole through the back of the ornament to hold the socket. Since the plug wouldn’t fit through the drilled hole, we removed it. (I’d never done this before, but it turns out it’s easy — just use pliers to pull out the two pins as shown here.)
The hole is right behind the original bulb.
The oven door doesn’t open all the way, so to make it easier to insert the socket and bulb we first threaded a piece of heat shrink tubing through the hole. (You could also use a drinking straw.) Then insert the wire into the tubing, pinch the tubing over the wire with your fingers, and pull the tubing out the back. This pulls the socket (with the bulb screwed in) into the stove. We had to jiggle it around a little and poke it with a skinny stick to get the socket into the hole, but once we did, it fit snuggly.
Finally, we taped the wire that’s sticking through the hole against the back of the stove, and put the plug back on.
The burner doesn’t glow with this method, but the light looks great and you can’t even tell there’s another, unlit light bulb in there.
Since the bulbs came two to a package, I decided to use the second one to light up the stove hood. First I glued the hood to the cabinet.
My dad centered the hole for the socket horizontally, but positioned it closer to the front of the hood so it’ll be harder to see when you’re looking into the roombox.
The socket sticks up behind the wooden piece that separates the two doors, so it’s mostly hidden. The wire goes through a small hole in the back of the cabinet (again, we removed the plug first).
Let there be light!
Both the stove and the hood will be plugged into hidden wall outlets, so I can choose to turn them on or not, and the bulbs can be replaced if they burn out (which wouldn’t have been true if we’d electrified the stove using its original wiring).