Fake Electrical Outlet

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About: Professionally I have been a summer camp counselor, a Draftsman/designer, salesperson, bicycle mechanic, laminate flooring machine mechanic, teacher, and designer of the OP Loftbed. Personally I am a human...

You may have seen a fake electrical outlet and not even known that you had. The first one I saw was a sticker on the wall of an airport. I saw someone walk up, get out their laptop, and tried to plug it in. They walked away to find a real electrical outlet. I inspected the sticker and saw that it was very real looking, even up close. I did a search on the internet and found that there are many different types of these fake outlet stickers being sold. They are marketed as practical jokes. There are even some stick on 3D versions that look like the real thing. I thought I would make a few magnetic versions to share with friends.

It doesn't cost much for the materials and is pretty easy to do. I will show you how I made mine and give you some ideas to make your own.

Step 1: Be Careful

You will be working with hot glue, sharp tools, and flying pieces of plastic. Wear safety glasses and gloves. Be careful. An injury from this project would be an embarrassing conversation: "Hey how did you hurt your hand?" "Oh this....I was making a fake electrical outlet."

Step 2: Materials

You should be able to get the materials at your local hardware store relatively inexpensively.

You need an electrical outlet. I got the cheapest one, because it is just going to be cosmetic.

You will need an outlet cover plate that comes with a screw to attach it to the outlet.

I got both of these in white, but if you knew the colors of the real outlets where you plan on using this prank, make yours match the real outlets.

You need some magnets. I used some thin stick on ribbon type magnets.

I thought that the self-adhesive backs on the magnets would not be enough so I also used some hot glue.

Step 3: Tools

I used a Philips screwdriver to take the fasteners off the outlet. I had a slotted screwdriver ready as well, but ended up not needing it. I used a bench vise to smash the back of the outlet off the front. I used some diagonal cutters to chop off some of the unneeded plastic and to cut the magnet strips. I used a Dremel tool to grind everything down thin and smooth.

Step 4: Take Out the Screws

To prepare the outlet for separating the front piece, that you need, from the back pieces, that you do not need, take out all the screws and keep them with your collection of fasteners that can be used later.

Step 5: SMASH!

I thought that I was going to try and pry the front off the outlet with a slotted screwdriver, but after inspecting the outlet, I knew it was going to be strong. I decided the best bet would be to smash the back of the outlet to get the front off undamaged. A hydraulic press would be best for this but I was able to smash it with a bench vise. Go slow to make sure you do not damage the front piece.

Step 6: Make the Pieces Fit Flat and Smooth

I was lucky in that there was not much sticking out the back side of the front piece. I was able to cut most of the excess off with the diagonal cutters and grind the rest off with the Dremel tool.

I think the three pictures of the plastic flying away from the diagonal cutters is a good illustration of why it is important to wear safety glasses.

Step 7: Glue the Front Outlet Piece to the Outlet Cover

Once you get the front outlet piece thin enough that it is flush with the back of the outlet cover plate, it is time to glue them together. I laid the two pieces, face down on a flat surface, and used hot glue to glue them together. Take care not to let the glue ooze through the cracks or your front will look fake.

Step 8: Cut the Magnet Strips

If you find some magnets that are thin and small enough, you could just glue them on. I used some ribbon magnets that I cut and test fitted before gluing them on the back of the outlet cover using hot glue.

Step 9: Glue on the Magnets

The ribbon magnets had self-adhesive backing on them, but I did not think it would be strong enough. I used the hot glue to glue the magnets on the back of the outlet cover plate. You want the finished product to fit flush with the surface you are going to put it on, so try and get the magnets flush with the back of the cover plate. I had to hold down the ends of the magnets, to keep them from curling up, while the hot glue set.

Step 10: Cutting the Outlet Cover Plate Screw

You need just the head of the outlet cover plate screw. I was able to cut the head off the screw using diagonal cutters. I made sure to cut the screw while gripping it in my gloved hand to keep the pieces from flying. I thought the three pictures of the plastic dust on and flying off my hand looked cool.

Step 11: The Finishing Touch

Use a small drop of hot glue to glue the screw head to the hole in the outlet cover plate. Clean off any excess glue and your fake outlet is ready to go.

Step 12: Have Fun

Now you have a realistic looking fake electrical outlet you can stick on metal surfaces. Your car, refrigerator, stove, or toolbox. The materials are cheap enough that you could leave them somewhere knowing that you will probably never see them again, so that someone else can discover them. Have fun.

Step 13: Video

As usual I made a video.

Thank you for watching.

I would appreciate it if you would like and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

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    28 Discussions

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    TomO14

    4 days ago

    You could make a small wall safe with this fake plate, too

    2 replies
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    DanC66TomO14

    Reply 1 day ago

    That's exactly what I thought!
    I hate practical jokes, but I do like clever ways to keep my valuables safe and sound.

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    CHARLESCRANFORDTomO14

    Reply 3 days ago

    I guess you could put some money behind it. Cool idea. Thank you for the comment.

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    biohazarusliquidhandwash

    Reply 2 days ago

    Need to be a GFCI, 'coz it is near the water
    (It is a joke, I know it is not going to be a real one...)

    Brilliant! You might have to use some strong, waterproof, double sided tape instead of magnets. If you could get it on the bottom, it would be hard to see from the surface, but someone swimming laps would see it. We did this with a fake skeleton for Halloween, at an indoor pool I life guarded. The swimmers' reactions were priceless.

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    RumpelS

    3 days ago

    Why do they put fake electrical outlets in an airport ??

    2 replies
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    CHARLESCRANFORDRumpelS

    Reply 3 days ago

    As a practical joke. If you have a layover and nothing to do, you could watch people trying to plug stuff up. The opposite of this joke is to take a power strip so that instead of two people being able to use the outlet, several could. Thank you for the question.

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    mattcintosh

    3 days ago

    I had an old outlet, faceplate, single gang metal box and a few feet of romex. I thought about putting a single nail into a wooden light pole from the inside to hold the box on, and run the romex out a knockout hole along the pole to about 4 inches into the dirt at the base.

    better yet, use one of the outlets to run one of those $2 extension cords to my car to make it look like i'm actually using it to charge my battery or use the headbolt heater

    1 reply
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    CHARLESCRANFORDmattcintosh

    Reply 3 days ago

    If you do it, take pictures. Or take video of people reacting. What a great idea.

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    Intensescroot

    4 days ago

    I made one with a box made of 1/4’ repurposed wood paneling on the back, cut a hole in the wall in an unused room and slid it in to use as a secret stash for extra money and valuables.

    1 reply
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    I have seen a few different Instructables that do something similar. Thank you for the comment.

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    Aaaecm

    4 days ago

    I ran into versions of this while geocaching. The best ones looked like electrical outlets. Sometimes they just used a blank cover plate. I recently moved to another part of the country. You have inspired me to make a few geocaches of my own. They would also make excellent dead drops. Thanks.

    1 reply
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    CHARLESCRANFORDAaaecm

    Reply 3 days ago

    Cool Idea. You would probably want to cover the holes with something, to keep out moisture. I intentionally tried to keep the hot glue out of the holes, so that it would not look fake, but you could put hot glue in the holes, to seal them. Thank you for the comment.

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    Georgejb75

    4 days ago

    Great practical joke, and the fact that you've entered it into the faux-real contest is just even more awesome. You've certainly got my vote!

    1 reply
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    FamilyF4

    4 days ago

    Thanks! A gentler prank than fake bullet holes...

    1 reply
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    CHARLESCRANFORDFamilyF4

    Reply 3 days ago

    Thank you. My Mom got me some fake bullet holes, as a gag gift. I think the brand was Bubba Bullet Holes.