DIY Exterior Porch Lanterns

I have a great project for you today, outdoor porch lanterns. I love the tall lanterns that you find in the the home decor stores but have always found them rather pricey, often $100 or more. Well, I’m here to show you that you can make your own lanterns for a fraction of that price.

Because I wanted these lanterns to sit on my porch I wanted to use mostly treated wood. That’s a 2×10 cut into 4 square pieces, 8 deck spindles 24 1/4″ long…just a bit taller than the 24″ glass cylinder (my cylinders were from Michaels, make sure you use a coupon!) and of course, pallet wood. I did use a few more items but these will get you started.

Of course the deck spindles I actually used for this project are a bit taller than those pictured below(these are just my leftovers), they are just acting as stand-ins while I measure and cut my pallet wood around the glass vase.

To make 2 vases you'll need 16 pieces of pallet wood all cut with mitered corners to fit around the cylinder vase and corner spindles. Nail all your pieces together with finishing nails to form 4 frames. You'll only need two frames if you're making one lantern.

With a nail gun attach your frames to the 24″ deck spindles. For a little added interest I left a 1 1/2 inch gap at the top and the bottom. I did all my nailing without the vase inserted, it’s only inserted here to make sure it still fits.

Now is a good time to paint before the whole thing is assembled. I used an exterior semigloss black paint. Screw on the base.

For the top, I used 4, 6 1/2″ spindle pieces mitered in the corners. With a jigsaw I cut out a hole in the top 2×10″s, slightly larger than the holes created by the spindles. This hole is for heat and smoke to escape if you’re using a regular candle. If you are going to use electric candles you could skip this step. Attach the top spindles with more finishing nails.

Finished painting the tops and sanded all the edges. The sanding gets rid of any hardened wood fibers, softens the edges and I love the worn look. The top does not get screwed onto the base. I thought that it would be easier to light candles and insert stuff if I left it unattached.

Here is the final 2 lanterns sitting on my front porch.

You'll never guess how I vented the top for a candle. For that little trick, lots more step by step pictures and a couple other finishing details you'll just have to stop by and see me over at Scavenger Chic. See you there.

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 10 questions
  • Geri Louise McComb
    on Nov 20, 2018

    How big around are the vases you used?

  • Heje
    on Nov 18, 2019

    How do the tops stay on when the candle is lit?

    • Kathy
      on Nov 21, 2019

      She has a hole cut in the top. Reread the steps and you will see it

  • Sharon Burrell
    on Nov 21, 2019

    How do you light the candle that is down quite a ways inside the glass? It seems like your hand would be directly over the flame.

    • Jer-Con Ohm
      on Dec 29, 2019

      have somebody else do it, then you won't burn the hair off of your arms.

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