When we told you about Richelieu MaJig Puck Light Jig last month, tons of ideas started driving me nuts. I had to get my hands on this thing and see if it really is as easy as they make it look. Fortunately, the good folks at Richelieu sent me one so I could share the experience with you. Now for starters, the MaJig is designed with under cabinet lighting in mind. For professional carpenters and cabinet makers, this looks to be a Godsend. It’s not a Harbor Freight clearance special thought. With a retail price of just under $350, I’ll also let you know who should consider adding this to their shop.
Many Ideas, Just One Project… For Now
If you read our preview, you already know that I was already thinking of more than just cabinet lighting. There are actually a lot projects I want to do with this. Being in a rental situation right now leads me to projects that I can take with me when we’re ready to purchase a home. I decided to start easy and add a shelf light.
The rationale was pretty simple. I wanted a project that was well within the scope of what the Richelieu MaJig was designed for, yet expand from it’s most obvious use of under cabinet lighting. I chose this particular shelf since it holds the receiver controlling the speaker system to our television. While the sound is great, the buttons aren’t backlit, making it rather annoying to switch sources in low light situations.
If I’m going to recommend the Richelieu MaJig for professionals, it’s got to be built to stand up to a lot of use. Professional installation of puck lights to go along with a custom build can easily add a lot of value to the piece that you’re building for your customer. Of course, you can go with even higher quality lights to improve the overall quality (and price) of what you’re custom building. You want to be able to offer that option to as many customers as you can since lighted cabinets, furniture, and accent pieces have a reputation of being on higher quality products. It’s also a lot easier to install puck lights at the beginning of the build rather than adding them after the fact.
I was excited to open the package and find that the two main plates of the Richelieu MaJig are cut from solid aluminum. The Forstner bits are solid and even the handle to lock the jig is an all metal construction. In fact, the only plastic I found anywhere was on the Forstner bits. The stops are made from plastic in order to protect the jig from damage and metal on metal friction during drilling.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
You can find puck light sets at variety of stores. Just make sure that you get recessed puck lights and double check the size if you’re new at this. The MaJig comes with Forstner bits for 2-1/8″ and 2-1/4″ sizes. These can vary greatly in price and quality, so be sure to match the light with the quality of the piece you’re working on. Being cheap on just one element will bring down the overall quality of your build.
The shelf that I chose to work on is a simple design. Just taking out 4 screws in the wall was all I needed to do to remove it. I was hoping that the MaJig puck light installation would be as quick as it claimed. If so, It should take less than 30 minutes to pull the shelf, install the light, replace the shelf, and plug it in.
The Richelieu MaJig comes with the jig, a pair of Forstner bits (2-1/8″ and 2-1/4″) and a drill bit that will allow you do go up to 7-1/2″ deep into your work piece. An optional 18″ drill bit (13-1/2″ drilling depth) is also available. Of course, the goal is to install a lighting system with hidden wires, so you’ll be going in through the back of your work piece.
Start by marking how deep you want your light to be, followed by a center mark horizontally. When you place the MaJig on your work piece, first adjust the Forstner guide to center the etching on your depth mark. Then tighten the guide in place by turning the handle. The nut on the back slips in the groove making this a tool free operation. Next, slide the MaJig to the horizontal point along the work piece and clamp it down on both sides. You’ll need to provide your own clamps. As usual, I’m employing my trusty JackClamps. You may also recognize Klein’s Tape Measure from our 25′ Magnetic Tape Measure Shootout.
With the MaJig secured, the rest is easy. Select the Forstner bit size that you need and adjust the depth, if necessary. For my light installation, the depth was already perfectly set. Go with high speed over high torque if you have an multi-speed drill here. This will leave cleaner results since you’re allowing the bit to do the work rather than shear torque. I was drilling into particle board (not my favorite) and wanted to avoid ripping any excess wood out.
Switch out the Forstner bit for the included drill bit and look to the side of the jig. As you’re drilling, be sure to bring the bit back out to clear the saw dust.
Once you’re a few inches in, a dust port will help clear out the saw dust and chips. You’ll still need to back out your bit as you go, but you won’t have to bring it all the way back. Since there’s a good possibility that you’re working with higher quality pieces than this particle board shelf, take your time here to make sure that you get a good clean cut through the wood without going through the opposite side of your installation point.
Clean out your work space using your preferred method. If you’re drilling before the entire work piece is put together, it’s easy enough to pick it up and let gravity help you out in that endeavor. Finally, run your wire through, pop the light in and enjoy a perfectly installed recessed puck installation.
Final Thoughts and Parting Shots
So how did it do? I had a perfect installation in about 10 minutes. That’s including the time that it took me to stop and take pictures. After the first couple of installs, this is should be a sub 5 minute process for most users. It is definitely possible to get a 1 minute installation. I’d err on the side of taking my time just to ensure that your customer’s piece is as flawless as it started.
When it comes to adding value to your custom work pieces or just offering your customers the option to modify a piece they already own, puck lighting is a great way to do it. The MaJig makes the installation easier, which reduces labor time and frustration for you. If you’re just getting into puck lighting installation, keep in mind that using a system wired to a wall switch (for cabinets) or having an on/off switch is always preferable to a plug in only option.
There has to be some discussion about price with the Richelieu MaJig. At $350, it’s a pricey investment for such a specialized jig. You’ll need to consider that it’s only set up to run two sizes of light. However, if you’re going to commit to using those sizes, I don’t know that you can find a better built or easier to use jig.
The Richelieu MaJig makes sense for pros. Its durable build ensures that it will pay for itself many times over before it needs to be replaced. The weekend warrior and DIYer will benefit from the ease of puck lighting installation. Even first time users are going to produce near perfect results immediately. The process is easy enough that you might find yourself enjoying adding puck lights to a variety of pieces. Be creative and add value to your custom work. The MaJig is designed and delivers a professional result that looks intentional from the beginning of the design rather than the afterthought look of surface installation puck lights.