Letters From BCG: A Backbreaking, But Big Bang For The Buck Project

J w Screwdriver

After replacing the 4 foot, industrial-strength, fluorescent shop light in our kitchen with an elegant chandelier, we discovered that in order to clearly see what we were chopping, mixing, or preparing would require more light.

The perfect solution: Six under-cabinet puck lights..


Retrofitting under cabinet lights is what we call a “big bang for the buck” project. The cost is low, and the impact on appearance and function is high. This post isn’t really about the details of the installation, because overall, the process is relatively simple. It takes a bit of work to get holes drilled, and then the cords installed and wormed around so they’re out of sight. There are dozens of articles and videos online to help.


The subject of this post is the single most difficult aspect that these DIY pieces don’t tell you. That accessing the area under the cabinets is back-breakingly hard, and unless you’re a munchkin contortion artist, the installation will be arduous and demanding.

I tried the spine-cracking “limbo,” bent backwards with my head under the cabinet. I also briefly attempted the frame-swivel-front-bend with side-to-side twist. With 2 lights down and 4 to go, I realized that these Gumby-esque maneuvers were going to cripple me.

J Under Cabinet

Finally, I decided what would work best for my stiff, 6 ft. 1 in. frame – the “recumbent rookie.” As a substitute for the one thousand words, this photo succinctly demonstrates the technique. I had my shoes off, a pillow under my head (to avoid neck strain), plywood to protect the glass-top stove, a towel under my butt for sliding around, and a flashlight for light. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but at Basecamp Gallivance, it’s all about “Git-R-Done.” And like all projects at BCG it was a team effort with my dandy technician Terri. She reminded me of a surgical nurse slapping tools into my hand when I needed them.

New Lights

In the end, we’re very happy with the results. However, if you decide to attack this project, be aware that no matter how it’s done, you’ll be sore for days – in places you didn’t even know you had. But, the upside is that you’ll be less likely to chop off the end of your finger because of poor light.


If you’re curious about our Letters from Basecamp Gallivance Series, these posts will give you a flavor.

Establishing Basecamp Gallivance
The Pace Quickens
Totally Floored
From Chaos to Cozy
Back in the Saddle
Chaos for Christmas

Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

7 thoughts

    1. Thanks for the comment. I see from your blog that you like kitchens as well. We’ve made a good transformation in our kitchen, but I’ll like it even better when its done.

  1. Wow! That is a beautiful outcome. The cast is magnificent.I think your ergonomic work positioning solution was genius. And, if nothing else, you can treat yourself to a massage for a job well done.

    1. Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. The best DIY projects have visually appealing results, and this was one of those. It was also one of those projects that was considerably more difficult that it appeared in the directions. Funny how that works.

  2. good on you for attempting the contortionist DIY job, and ending up under the cabinets like that, you look like a car mechanic…

      1. yep we’ve had our share, seems DIY is never ending, we are going to Croatia again for Easter and in June for more jobs!!

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