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Outdoor Tuna Can Lantern DIY

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How to make an outdoor lantern using a tuna can and a few basic items.

DIY outdoor lantern with glass globe made using a tuna can.

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 can make 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.

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.

Decorating treasure is not always waiting to be found, but you have to go frequently to stumble upon it every now and then.

I went on purpose, knowing 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.

Thrift-Store-Glassware made used to make an outdoor lantern

Total cost of my glass haul – $2.70.

Completed Tuna Can Outdoor Lantern

Here is what I made with the thrift store glass hurricane. At the end of this post you will find a few variations using the other glassware I found.

Tuna Can Lantern by In My Own Style blog


This DIY outdoor lantern was very quick and easy to make.

How to Make a Tuna Can Lantern

DIY Tuna can Candle-Lantern-Supplies-Needed

supplies needed:

  • Empty tuna can
  • wood screw – 1″ long
  • Copper adapter
  • 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.

Drill-hole-in-paint-stick
Paint-stick-hole

Using my Craftsman Rotary Drill, I drilled a hole in the top of the paint stick. I love this drill, I have found so many different projects to use it on including: Pumpkin Head Bat Tassels, Stylish Bath Salt Holder, a Carved Monogrammed Ornament and so many more.

Create-hole-in-tuna-can

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

How to Assemble the Lantern

Every paint or broom stick will be sized differently.

How to make a tuna can lantern

The copper adapter I found 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.

Candle-Lantern-assembled
Can-screwed-on to pole to make outdoor lantern made using a tuna can.


Screw the screw into the stick so it looks like the photo above.

Place the bottom end of the paint stick into the ground. 

Tuna can Candle-lantern-assembled.

The lantern is complete – it 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!

Spray-paint-tuna can lantern with-RustOleum Hammered Brown spray paint

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

Tuna Can Lantern by In My Own Style blog

All Done!  If you have a windy yard – a hurricane such as the one I used above will help keep the candles from burning out.

Tuna Can Lantern glass variations


If you can’t find a glass hurricane when you are out thrifting – I also bought a small vase. It also works.

Outdoor lighting Tuna can lantern using a small vase


There are a lot of variations to choose from. You can try a drinking glass and if you have an old set of glasses, you can make a matching set of lanterns to place around your entire yard or to use for a wedding or outdoor party.

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.

Tuna Can Lantern TIP:

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

Tuna-can-screwed-on to pole to make outdoor lantern made using a tuna can.

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226 Comments

  1. Diane, That is brilliant!!! It looks like something you would find at a decorating store, not in your cupboard! You truly are brilliant!!!
    Hugs, Cindy

      1. Diane – I mentioned in my comment about tuna cans that I had made a gazing ball the prior year with my granddaughter.

  2. Dianne – you are just FULL of great ideas! This looks like a super project for my granddaughter and I while she is visiting this summer. She is my “crafty girl” and loves to help make things. Last year we made a gazing ball from a bowling ball so this will be perfect…tuna cans and lamp chimneys into beautiful outdoor lighting!

    1. Hi Suzan –
      It will be the perfect project. Some tools, paint, and fun. It took me longer to gather the materials then it did to make it. I hope you have a wonderful time with your granddaughter.

      1. Hi Grace – Did someone mention a gazing ball in the comments of my post on the Tuna Can lantern? I am not sure I know what you are asking about.