Tin Can Lantern

Convert a tin can into a beautiful lantern. It is easy!

Tin Can Lantern

What you need

Tin cans (soup cans or other)
Universal oil-based primer
Oil-based enamel paint
Pin hammer
Galvanized wire (4-6 in.)


Clean can by soaking in hot, soapy water. Making sure to remove all of the label and glue.

(optional painting)

Apply a coat of primer and let it dry.

Apply a coat of paint and let it dry.

Fill the can with water and place in a freezer until solid. (this will ensure you don’t dent the tin).

Use a hammer and nail to punch out holes, creating a freehand design around the can.

For a handle, punch out two holes on either side of can.

Using a pair of pliers, bend wire through holes and secure.

Place a candle inside and hang in a safe place.

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  1. Making mine soon, I have my cans all lined up for painting tomorrow.

  2. Fantastic upcycling goodness however take great care when cleaning the cans because I gash my hand almost every time!

  3. Awesome! Nice use of an otherwise throw away. I made some for Christmas one year. They are fun to make and we had fun using them outside wjile caroling :)
    We’re corny funny like that.
    see you again…susie

  4. cool project! my cousin is getting married i think this will be a good gift!

  5. Sock Monkey says:

    K-O-O-L spells kool!!!!!!!

  6. I am planning on using a number of small cans with a string of Christmas type lights to make my own patio light string.
    Great site.

  7. We did this project for our Girl Scout troop for their first sleepover. For candles we used the battery operated tea lights. The girls loved their “lantern walk” at night. Then they used these lanterns as a night light. Worked perfectly because the tea lights give off a low glow. We have since used these same lanterns on every campout we go. The girls look forward to their lantern walks! Thanks for such a fantastic idea that will become a tradition for our troop.

  8. wow i remember i did these when i was young but i’ve totally forgotten about them over the years!!! i’m going to make some for the summer, and i LOVE LOVE the idea of using old clothes hangers, and putting citronella candles in there are a great idea too!!!

  9. What kind of candle do i use to light it?

    Tea candles seem too small…wouldn’t they?

    idk i’ve never made these before

  10. Umm, which of the materials are expensive? A hammer? Surely everyone already has one of those… All you really need for this craft is a hammer, a nail, and a used tin can. And it IS recycling, because you are turning the trash (old tin can) into something neat (patterned lantern). I’ve done several of these, and they turned out great! (Except my first one haha…) I’m doing a set right now focusing on the majesty of Christ for Christmas. I’ve done a rather simple crown, and I’m going to do two crosses to go beside it. Some good shape ideas are: Hearts, stars, a Christmas tree, an angel, a snowman, a leaf, a dragonfly, a sun or moon, or some initials (monogram). Try not to make it too intricate or the design wont show up. Merry crafting!

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