How to Build Simple DIY Wood Lanterns

8 Materials
3 Hours

Scrap wood projects are some of my favorite projects to do because they clear my scrap pile, encourage creativity and are FREE. If you don't have enough scrap then visit the post to see what wood to purchase.

I made two lanterns. The large lantern measured app 25 1/2 inches tall by 10 1/2 inches wide. The small lantern is 15 5/8 x 7 3/8 size. Keep in mind that all wood depths aren't the same. Your measurements may be different from mine due to variations in the thickness of the wood.

Unless specified, I attached all pieces using wood glue and 2 inch 18G brad nails.

Large Lantern

Start out by assembling the two rectangular sides. Attach two sides to a top and bottom piece. It helps to use wood clamps to hold it in place. This will create a rectangle. Repeat this for the other side.

Connect the two rectangular sides together using the eight horizontal top and bottom 2 x 2 pieces. This will create a rectangular box.

Add the bottom pieces and feet. Attach the bottom 1 x 4s to the bottom of the rectangular box using wood glue and 1 1/4 inch 18G brad nails. Then attach the feet to the bottom 1 x 4s. 

Add a final few pieces of wood (crown) to taper at the top. Draw an outline on the top where you want your crown to sit. I marked about halfway in from the outer edge of the top and then attached it. 

Sand and fill any holes with wood filler. Apply your chosen stain or paint. I used a flat black spray paint (see picture below) and finish it off with a sealer. I used a spar urethane sealer. 

Small Lantern

* I used wood glue and 1 1/4 inch 18G brad nails to attach all the pieces together. 

Create the sides by attaching two vertical side pieces with a top and bottom horizontal piece. It helps to use wood clamps to hold it in place. Repeat this for the other side to make two rectangles. 

Attach the two rectangles to the bottom piece.


Attach the horizontal bottom and top pieces in between the two rectangles. I attached the bottom horizontal pieces by nailing through the bottom piece. I attached the top horizontal pieces by nailing through the sides. Now you have a rectangular box.

Add the feet. 

Add the crown. For the crown, I marked halfway in from the edge of the top to get my measurements for my cuts.


Sand and fill in any holes with wood filler. Apply your chosen paint or stain and protect it with a sealer. I used Varathane Antique White and Mixwax Dark Walnut. To add a rustic worn look, sand your lanterns after you stain or paint them. Then I applied a spar urethane sealer. 


As an option add handles. You can either use wire, a chain, or a very long gummy worm. I made rope handles and attached them to the crown of the lanterns. Then I placed them by my front door. 

If you liked these DIY lanterns then check out my page that shows several projects to make using scrap wood.

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


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