Time requiredComplexityTools &Supplies

2 hours

Easy

Common

The other day I was about to throw away a can of soup (actually pineapple) in the recycling bin when I thought: “hey, isn’t there anything else I could be doing with that?”. Turns out there is: an easy and pretty DIY lantern!


Requirements


Tools & Supplies

  • Something to make small holes with in the can. Could be a very small drill, ideally probably a hand rotary tool with a small drill. I don’t have that, so I’m using an awl.
  • Any kind of tape.
  • A kitchen towel.
  • An empty and clean aluminum can (soup, fruits, catfood…), with the sticker removed.
  • Patience if you’re using an awl.

Pattern

I uploaded two files for you so that you can choose your own adventure:

  • A blank pattern containing only the outline of the areas that we will be working on. Use this one if you want to add your own drawings, either digitally or by hand after printing it. To make it easier to edit this one is in format svg. Download the SVG.
  • The pattern filled with the drawings that I used for this tutorial, if you want to do the exact same. Download the PDF.

Walk-through


Before we begin

I should mention that there is a way to make this process easier, especially if you’re using an awl or if you want to do this on a soda can. You see the pressure we will apply with the awl on the exterior of the can when we make the holes will have a tendency to bend the can. And the fact that the aluminium is not completely rigid makes the perforation difficult. If we were using a soda can it would simply completely crush the can.

There is a way to avoid that: filling up the can with wax before perforating. You melt enough wax in a pot on your stove, pour it in the can, wait for it to melt. Make your holes, then put the can in an oven upside down with a container underneath and wait for the wax to melt and drop from the can.

However I don’t wax laying around so I’ll be doing without. Just wanted to let you know that it’s an option.

Print & cut-out the pattern

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Here are the dimensions of the areas if you want to keep it simple and draw it with a pen and a ruler. Circle radius: 41.5mm ; Rectangle dimensions: 258x108mm.

Those measurements and patterns are only valid for a standard small can of soup or equivalent. If you’re using something else you will have to adapt the dimensions.


Secure the pattern on the can with tape

Use tape to secure the pattern both at what will now be the top of the can (previously the bottom) and around it.


Holes, holes and more holes.

The edge on the open side of the can is very sharp. You may want to use special gloves to work on this part of the project.

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You can use a kitchen towel to make a sort of stabilizer to prevent the can from rolling around when you’re working on its side.

This is where you will need some patience. Poke holes at regular intervals following the shapes on your pattern.

Try not to poke holes too close to each other or the little bit of aluminum between them might break away.

When you’re done remove the tape. And that’s it!


Final result

Now the only thing left to do is to get a candle, wait for nightfall and enjoy the beautiful motifs that you new lantern will project on the walls!

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