How to Make a Tin Lantern | DIY Lantern

By on March 28, 2014


These tin lanterns are not only extremely easy and kid friendly, but you can make them under $5. Better yet, you can make them with items from around the house! Lanterns work great as garden decor, centerpieces and gifts! Take a look at this quick tutorial to see how you can add a little light to your life:

Step 1:

led lantern

Gather your supplies! These tin lanterns can easily be made with items around the house, although it isn’t all that expensive either:

  • Hammer
  • Towel
  • Marker
  • Nail or screw
  • Tin can or tin bucket
  • Candle or LED light
  • Water

Many folks reuse their soup cans for this project, but we decided to use some inexpensive tin buckets from the dollar section at Target! Whichever you decide, fill with water and freeze. Freezing is essential! The ice helps  tremendously when trying to poke your holes later.

Step 2:



After the water has frozen, lay the tin on a towel and wipe clean. The tin may create a thin layer of frost on the outside, which you want to dry as much as possible.

Step 3:


Using a marker, draw your design on the tin. We just did polka dots, but make sure you outline your design with dots, like a dotted line. I would avoid a permanent marker, in case you make a mistake – a dry erase marker works great!

Step 4:

candle lantern


Grab your nail and line up with dots. With the tin laying on its side, hammer nail into tin. I found that 3 good taps made a small hole, and 5 good taps made a larger hole – depending on what look you’re going for. We did a mix of both!


lantern centerpieces

Step 5:

decorative lantern

Wipe clean again to erase any remaining marker residue.

diy lantern

Repeat steps 3 thru 5 with other side of the tin!



You’ll probably have some ice chipping off and flying around throughout the process, but I promise it is well worth it!

Step 6:

camping lantern

Place a candle or LED light in the base of the tin and light it up!



tin lantern

Voila! You now have a super cool, inexpensive – if not free – DIY lantern!

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About Stephanie

Stephanie Hicks Butler is the executive editor of DIY Ready. She is curious, creative, and an expert mess maker who is not afraid to try anything a couple of times to get it right. Her specialties are inventing things, writing no nonsense clear instructions, artistic endeavors, paper crafts, digital media, kids crafts, creating recipes and figuring out new and better ways to do almost anything. Stephanie is a DIY guru who thinks maybe she should have been banned from DIY forums years ago, but enjoys being part information junkie, mad scientist, uncertified gourmet chef and mom of three budding DIY enthusiasts. DIY Projects For Teens


  1. Great Grey

    March 28, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    1) No frost problem, if you draw your design before you put the water in and freeze it.
    2) a tree limb, large dowel, 2×4 trimmed to fit, etc. will work in place of the ice. After all if you need to make one, you may not be able to freeze water.
    3) I would not use a drywall screw (black oxide) as they are brittle and when they break have very sharp edges that can lacerate your fingers. Deck screws (gold) are better but, a genuine 16 penny nail or larger is best.

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