At times my life becomes a constant unending quest to consume caffeine. It's during these times that I've been assaulted by assignments, exams, and extra curriculars to the point where the only thing capable of supplying power to my brain in addition to lifting my spirits and my eyelids is a delicious can of chemicals known as an energy drink. This project honors the mighty powers of such beverages by immortalizing them in a light fixture for your living space.
Of course, you could use any beverage can of your choice! There are a lot of cool looking cans out there that could be turned into lamps!
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9/8/14: Thank you for the feature!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
You'll need a variety of tools and materials to make your own aluminum can lamp!
- Wood - I chose to use oak craft boards that I found at Home Depot. They were roughly the size I was thinking of during the design phase, and I wanted to use some nicer-looking wood than I usually build with for this project.
- Dowels - two pieces of 1/2" square dowel, 36" long, and one piece of 1/8" round dowel, 36" long.
- Wood Glue
- Plaster of Paris
- 6-ft Extension Cord
- #10 Wood Screws (4)
- Super Glue
- Wood Cutting Device - I used a jig saw, osciallating cutting tool, a hand drill, and a Dremel rotary tool. In a perfect world, all you would really need for this project is a miter saw, and a 2-inch hole saw bit for your drill.
- Hand Tools - knife, screw driver, sand paper
Step 2: Base Woodwork
The primary woodworking required for this project is building the base of the lamp. I chose to make a cube as the base of my lamp.
- Cut one 5.5-inch long piece from the oak board. This yields a 5.5-by-5.5 inch square. Mark the center, and drill a 1/8-inch hole.
- Using a Dremel Rotary tool, and circle-cutting jig, route a circle in the top of the square. This will yield a nice indent to glue our first energy drink can to in a later step. I ended up using a few different bits and sanding steps to make it perfect.
- Cut four 5-inch long pieces from the oak board. Roughly half an inch will then need to be cut from the side of the board to yield a 5-by-5 inch square.
- Two holes, slightly larger than 1/8-in, need to be drilled in each side of each of the 5-by-5-inch pieces.
- Cut small sections of 1/8-in round dowel to serve as pegs to assemble the box. Wood glue is placed on all pegs and joints to make it as strong as possible.
- Another hole slightly larger than 1/4-inch should be drilling in one side of the box to allow the power cord to run through it.
- Two 1/2-inch, by 5-inch strips can be glued in place on the inside of the box. A 5-by-5-inch piece will serve as the bottom of the lamp, and wood screws will hold in in place against these strips so that it can be removed.
Take a look at the 3D model of the base I put together! I intentionally made one side transparent, so that you can see inside of it.
Step 3: Prepping Cans
I needed a way to make sure the aluminum cans were sturdy so that they could make up the body of the lamp. I knew that the lamp wouldn't look nice for very long if as soon as someone touched it, the cans were slightly crushed. For this, I used Plaster of Paris to line the inside of each can.
- Remove the top and bottom of two drink cans. For this I found that using a knife was the easiest method. We want to keep the top on the very top can for aesthetic reasons.
- Mix Plaster of Paris with water, to a slightly thick consistency. This will allow it to stay in place better on the inside of each can.
- Using a spoon, popsicle stick, or your choice of other utensil, spread the Plaster of Paris on the inside of each can. The layer should be roughly 1/4-inch thick so that the aluminum can will hold its shape without fail.
- The very top can should have the tab removed, and a 1/2-by-1/2-inch square cut into the top center.
- A roughly 5-inch piece of square dowel should be set in the plaster so that it stays in place. A hole wide enough to fit the wires through it will need to be drilled in the center of the square dowel. I messed this part up a bit, and used plaster and sandpaper to fix how it looked later.
- Once the plaster has set - roughly 20 minutes - the aluminum cans should be glued together. Sanded all of the inside edges and then used 5-minute epoxy for this.
Step 4: Wiring
- Cut the female end off of the extension cord.
- Separate and strip the wires from the cut end.
- Thread the wire through the hole in the side of the base, and through the cans and square dowel at the top of the lamp.
- Open the lightbulb socket. There will be two screws on the inside to which the wires will be attached. Wrap each stripped wire around the screw, and tighten the nut around it to keep in in place.
- Super glue the lightbulb socket to the top of the square dowel.
Step 5: Lamp Shade - Frame
The frame of the lamp shade is made of 1/2-in square dowel, cut to different lengths, and held together using the 1/8-in round dowel as pegs, with wood glue.
- Cut square dowel - 8 pieces, 5-in long. 4 pieces, 4.5-in long. 4 pieces, 2-in long.
- Top and bottom squares. One hole will need to be drilled on each side of the 8 5-in pieces. These will be put together with round pegs cut from 1/8-in dowel to form two squares, 5.5-in in diameter.
- Sides - The 4, 4.5-in pieces will form the sides. Holes need to be drilled in each of the four corners of both top and bottom squares, and then the sides can be glued in place with pegs. This forms a cube.
- Attaching to base. - The 4, 2-in pieces are super glued to the base dowel holding the lightbulb socket. The completed cube is then placed around the support pieces, and super glued into place.
Step 6: Lamp Shade - Fabric
The fabric on the lamp shade was purchased from a local upholstery store. I got a large amount of fabric for a dollar! It was some sort of leftovers that they had sitting outside, and I found a pattern I thought was interesting.
- Cut fabric to be roughly 6.5"x22". This will allow the fabric to wrap completely around the outside of the frame, and overlap the top and bottom to be glued.
- Place the fabric over one side of the top of the frame. Use super glue to secure it in place.
- Use scissors to trip the corner, lay the fabric on the next side, and super glue in place.
- After all four sides are glued down on the top of the frame, the fabric can be stretched and glued to the bottom of the frame along each side as well. A bead of super glue down one side can seal the corner along the height of the frame.
Step 7: Conclusion
The base of the lamp was sanded and sealed with some clear polyurethane that I had left over from another project.
Screw in a lightbulb, plug into an outlet, flip the switch built into the lightbulb socket, and you're good to go!
Thanks for reading! Leave a comment! (ya'know, if you want to. But I like them)