Outdoor Tuna Can Lantern

Last week I made a candle chandelier for my deck. It looks so pretty when lit, but the rest of my yard was looking kind of neglected. I was determined to find a way to spread some more candle light around the yard to balance the light and provide more ambiance. I used to have Tiki torches, but they unravel and have to be filled up with oil that makes a mess.  I remember years ago seeing candle lanterns at a wedding that I thought were pretty clever and decided I could try to make them myself, but I needed to find some glass hurricanes.  A trip to the thrift store was in order yesterday.

Usually when I go on my weekly thrift store excursion I run in and do a quick cruise around the store to see if anything pops out at me. Treasure is not always waiting to be found, but you have to go frequently to stumble upon it every now and then.  Yesterday I went on purpose –  I knew my thrift store would have exactly what I was looking for – I had a choice  – lots of glass hurricanes to choose from. I ended up with 3 and a cylinder glass bowl that I plan on using for another project.

Total cost of my glass haul – $2.70.


Here is what I made with the hurricane. At the end of this post I created a few variations using the other glassware I picked up.

Tuna Can Lantern by In My Own Style blog

It was very quick and easy to make.

How to Make a Tuna Can Lantern

  I used a tuna can, wood screw, copper adapter, and an old paint stick.  If you don’t have an old paint stick, you could use an old broom stick – just cut the broom part off, or even buy a dowel.   The copper adapter was the most expensive part of this project – $3.00, but I like the way it looked. If you want to be really thrifty you could use a soda bottle cap on top of the stick. The adapter or cap adds a nice transition between the can and the stick and provides support.


Using my Craftsman rotary drill that my hubby got me a few years ago for my birthday, I drilled a hole in the top of the paint stick.



Then I used a awl and hammer to make a hole in the center of the tuna can.


Assembly order:  The copper adapter fits over the paint stick perfectly. Take your stick to the plumbing section at the hardware store and try a few different sizes out for the perfect fit. Every stick will be a bit different.


Screw the screw into the stick.


The top will look like this.


Place it in the ground.  The lantern is complete – just needs a coat of paint.  Once I removed the hurricane and candle, I sprayed the whole thing right where you see it in the photo – EASY!


I used Rust-Oleum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze so the lantern will coordinate with the chandelier I made last week for my deck.


All Done!  If you have lots of wind – a hurricane such as the one I used will help keep the candles from burning out.

Tuna Can Lantern by In My Own Style blog

If you can’t find a hurricane when you are out thrifting – I also bought a small vase. It looks nice, too.

Tuna Can Lantern variations

Outdoor lighting Tuna can lantern using a small vase

Lots of variation to choose from. A drinking glass works well also.    You may even have an old set of glasses to make a matching set of lanterns to place around your entire yard.

Drinking-glass-tuna can lantern

Now I need to eat more tuna so I can make a few more so my yard will have all- over ambiance at night.

Pink-CircleTo remove dried wax on glass after use – fill glass with ice water. Let set a few minutes and wax will come right off.




  1. james says

    I just got through making a patio using recycled bricks from the 1890’s and have been trying to think of creative ways to do the lighting with recycled products. This is perfect! Since I have access to cedar trees I might use the cedar tree trunks instead of broom sticks. Since I already have plenty of glass chimney’s lying around all I need to do is look in my recycle bin for that tuna fish can I threw away and paint it.

  2. Meg S says

    Love this!!! I made 12 for a party I’m helping host!!! Inexpensive w a great impact. I have 1 question though. How did you get these in the ground??? I used a wooden dowel and feel I’m going to have trouble getting it in the ground!

    • says

      Hi Meg – To get the lantern sticks/dowels into the ground – I just pushed them in. The ground was not hard. If your ground is hard, you can dig a small hole, place the dowel in and then pack the dirt around the hole and dowel to make it secure. Another way is to push the bottom of the dowel in the dirt and move it in a circular motion as you press down. (Like you were putting a beach umbrella into the sand) Once it is down far enough – straighten it out and press the dirt to pack it around the dowel. You can also place them in flower pots where the dirt is soft.

  3. Renea H says

    Looks like I will be having Tuna for lunch today before I head off to Lowes Home Improvement for some supplies. Now I will be adding copper to my list.. Very Nice DIY Lantern you have here..

  4. Jamie says

    I made these last summer for a graduation party, I used stakes from solar lights that no longer worked. I glued the tuna can onto them. They survived being outside all winter in northern Illinois.

  5. Phil says

    This is a great idea but I was not able to find hurricane shades to fit the tuna cans. So, I substituted 6 oz. salmon cans instead. They were a perfect fit. I am havingh to make over 2o of them for a wedding. Thanks for the idea.

  6. Sheila says

    Diane, I just joined your blog, and I have to say girl, I am sooo impressed with your creativity and glad I did !!! I never thought of doing this. My yard needs a boost, so we will be eating A LOT of salmon for awhile … :-D Thanks for the great inspiration.


  7. Tami says

    Wonderful blog. But I tried to sign up for the newsletter by email and
    its “deactivated.” Also could not get the reader sign up to work. Could
    you please put me on the list. Thanks

  8. Jill says

    One question. Do you have to worry about rain water in the vase? That is my only concern with project. Just trying to think ahead before I make these and realize there is more that I hadn’t thought about.

    • says

      Hi Jill – I never have had a problem, but you can always drill some holes in the bottom of the tuna can. This will keep water to build up in the can.

  9. Kristyn says

    Hi Diane,
    I love love love this project. Why am I just now finding it??? I’ve been on your site forever and thought I’d seen it all. But you never cease to amaze me. Great project to start on this first day of summer :))

    • says

      Thanks Kristyn – The tuna can lantern is one of my most popular posts. :-) It is pretty versatile – it can go to from trad to modern to funky depending on what color you paint it and the glass you use. It is a easy DIY for summer and even in the Fall. It adds a cozy touch to my backyard when I am sitting snuggled under a blanket at bight enjoying being outside before it gets too cold. Happy Summer

  10. says

    I get pleasure from, result in I found just what I was taking a look
    for. You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a nice day. Bye

  11. Wendy says

    What a great idea! Just moved into a new place and have a small patio area that needs some light… this is a great solution :)

  12. Betty819 says

    Great idea! If you’re going to be putting this outdoors, why not use citronella candle to ward off mosquitos and other bugs? My concern with using the hurricane type lantern is that the glass those are usually made of is thin, might pop or crack from the heat of the candle. Super idea for an outdoor wedding..I think I have an old mop or broom in the garage and probably a paint roller extender stick.

  13. Florida Vince says

    Great idea! They look great and are easy to build. We’ll be making ours using wax LED candles with a timer feature instead of real candles and using them as landscape / pathway lights. I’ll most likely use upside down straight edged mason jars (for weather protection) and frost the interiors to give them a warmer glow. Anyway, great site and nice work!

  14. says

    Diane me encuentro tan feliz de haber encontrado este blog tan espectacular. Agradeciendote de corazon por la idea del atun linterna.Voy hacerlo lo mas pronto posible . Dios te pague por transmitir estas idea hermosas para decorar.Te deseo muchos exitos,.Desde Colombia con gran cariño.Mercy.

  15. says

    Have just, while browsing, come across your wonderful Hurricane Lamps. I have 2 Large glass lamps I bought some years ago and didn’t know what to do with them. Thanks to your great article I shall gather all the other things I need and hopefully can replicate your lamps.
    Wonderful hands and ideas. Deirdre


  1. […] To make these chic garden lanterns, you need a can, spray paint, a wood screw, a copper adapter, a paint stick and a glass container or a vase in a shape you like. You can also use a glass. Put a candle inside and create a romantic mood in the backyard.{found on inmyownstyle}. […]

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