Tin Can Lanterns

6 Materials
$15
2 Hours
Easy

An uncle of mine used to make tin lanterns by hand and though these aren't as ornate as those, they are a pretty cute version on the cheap! So before you toss those empty cans in the bin, maybe take a gander at this little repurpose number! You can punch any design of your choice into an old can, place a light in it and you have a lantern! All you need is a couple cans, a drill, and a light, and you're in business!


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SUPPLIES:
-Tin Cans
-Rotary Tool (I've used this tool on a number of projects, and I think it's a great thing to have.)
-Spray Paint (optional)
-Lights (flameless candle, fairy lights, LED lights)
-Thick Metal Wire (optional-not pictured above)
-Wire Cutters (not pictured above)


STEP 1: Clean your tins
Remove the labels and sticky residue from your tin cans.




STEP 2: Create a pattern for your lantern

I am going to show you 2 different types of lanterns you can make. The first is one that bows out like a Chinese lantern. To make this one you first make slices through the can about 3/4" apart from each other with a rotary tool. Continue making these cuts all the way around, but make sure to leave a nice inch or so at the top and bottom of the can. This rotary tool comes with 100 different attachments you can use. I also used this on my PVC pipe lights, so I'm a big fan of it.

If you want, you can add a couple extra light holes by drilling through the top and bottom border of the can.


If you don't want to turn it into a Chinese lantern style, you can just do a punch design. First draw the design of your choice on your can.


If you don't want to turn it into a Chinese lantern style, you can just do a punch design. First draw the design of your choice on your can.

Then take your drill and drill through the dots of your design being sure to puncture through the can.


STEP 3: Create a handle

Grab your thick metal wire (I like this one from Amazon) and make a nice arc around the top of the can to make a handle. Make sure to add on an additional inch on either side that will be pinched around the can.

Cut the wire to length.


STEP 4: Create two holes for the wire
Drill two holes at the top of the can directly across from one another that are large enough for the wire to go through.


STEP 5: Feed one end of the wire through one of the holes.


STEP 6: Twist the wire
Use your wire cutters or pliers to curve the wire around the edge of the can so that it secures the handle in place. Pinch the wires together to ensure they are closed. I love this wire, because it's secure but it also is flexible.


STEP 7: Finish forming the shape of the lantern
Now it's time to push out the center for the Chinese lantern. Put on a pair of work gloves and with your hand inside the can, press the center cuts out so that they bow nice and evenly.


STEP 8: (Optional) If you want to add a little extra character to your lanterns you can spray paint them.

STEP 9: Once your lanterns are dry just drop a light inside and watch it shine! I love these lights because because you just click them and go. They're also waterproof and much safer than regular wax candles.


These things are cute even in day light!


Look at all those designs cast on the wall! The possibilities are endless!
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • Linda
    on Sep 12, 2017

    Aren't the edges razor sharp once you bend that Chinese design out? The other one would have some sharp spots inside, but that doesn't appear to be so much of a problem, if you're careful reaching inside the can.
    • Mcgypsy9
      on May 25, 2018

      I’ve made many of these myself Amanda and just love them! I usually make them for sitting outside in the evenings and of course adding candles or lighting of some sort to them. This year I might try adding the head part of a solar light to them and see if that will work as good. Thanks for sharing! Yours came up lovely!

  • Keely
    on Oct 20, 2017

    Where did you get the lights
  • Margaret Farmer
    on May 12, 2018

    What is the best way to get the glue from the label off a can or jar?

Join the conversation

2 of 81 comments
  • Jeanette S
    on Jun 9, 2019

    AMANDA,

    LOVE THESE!

  • Vicki
    on Jun 26, 2019

    we did this as a girl scout project once and what we did was fill the cans with water and froze them. Then we used a hammer and nail to "punch" the design into the can since we didn't want or have enough power tools for 12 year old girls to use

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