HomeMade Modern DIY Concrete Lamp





Introduction: HomeMade Modern DIY Concrete Lamp

About: HomeMade Modern is an online design source that publishes easy-to-follow, DIY recipes for creating modern home furnishings. We provide creative ideas for making affordable alternatives to pricey designer ho...

This DIY concrete lamp is cast in an empty milk carton. Its small size makes a great starter project for people who haven’t worked with concrete before. The only cost is for a few pounds of cement and the light fixture.

Step 1: Supplies + Tools

Milk Carton
Reclaimed + Recycled
A half gallon milk cartons make excellent form work for concrete. The waxed cardboard is water proof and smooth so the finished concrete will have a smooth stone like finish.

Plastic Drink Bottle
Reclaimed + Recycled
The plastic bottle is used to create a space big enough to house a light bulb.

1/2" Inch Diameter Bolt 6" Inches Long with Nut
Purchase at Home Depot
This bolt holds the plastic bottle in place and also creates a hole for the cord to go through.

Tub Tile or Window Caulk
Purchase at Home Depot
The caulk is used to seal the holes in the milk carton mold. Almost any type of water proof caulk will work.

3 1/2" Deck Screw
I used a single deck screw to help hold the plastic bottle in place.

Quickcrete 5000
Purchase at Home Depot
QUIKRETE® 5000 Concrete Mix is a commercial grade blend of stone or gravel, sand and cement specially designed for higher early strength. It is available at Home Depot and typically comes in 80 lb bags. The hardest part of working with it is moving the 80 lb bag. Mixing the small quantity needed for this project is easy all you have to do is add water and stir thoroughly.

Electrical Stuff: Socket, Switch and Cord
Purchase Online
I bought an E-12 socket and cord set from Grandbrass.com.

RYOBI 18 Volt Cordless Drill with a 1/2” diameter standard bit
For drilling holes for the bolt.

¼” and 3/8” Masonry Bits
To drill holes in the concrete. Feel free to experiment with larger or smaller bits.

Wire Cutters
To cut the cord and strip the wires for reconnecting the socket to the cord after putting the socket inside the lamp.

Step 2: Open the Carton and Trim the Edges

Use scissors or a box cutter to cut back the folded top of the carton.

Step 3: Drill Through the Carton and Plastic Bottle

The drill can skip around a bit so make a small hole with a knife or nail first.

Step 4: Insert the Bolt

Screw the bolt through the carton and the plastic bottle and fasten the nut on the other side.

Step 5: Seal the Mold

The form needs to be watertight so seal the holes with the caulk.

Step 6: Mix the Concrete

Follow the manufacturer’s directions on the proportion of water to cement. Beginners tend to add too much water. You want the mixture to be the consistency of cookie dough. Mix it thoroughly and then mix it some more. You want every grain of sand to be wet without adding too much water.

Step 7: Clean the Bowl

Once the concrete dries, it becomes difficult to get off the sides of the bowl, so clean the bowl with water right away.

Step 8: Fill the Mold and Vibrate

Spoon the wet cement into the mold, and use a spoon or stick to push it down into every corner. Tap and vibrate the mold as aggressively as you can without breaking it. Vibrating removes the bubbles from the cement and makes the lamp stronger and less likely to break.

Step 9: Unwrap Mold and Unscrew Bolt

Let the concrete cure for 2 days before tearing off the carton and unscrewing the bolt and screw.

Step 10: Drill Holes

Start with the ¼” drill, and then use the larger bits to make the holes larger. Try to leave at least ¾” between the holes to keep the lamp from breaking.

Step 11: Insert Wires

Cut the socket end of the wire, and thread the cut end though the bolt hole. Strip the wires and twist them together. Cover the exposed metal with electrical tape or wire nuts.

Step 12: Finished!

Good luck making your own concrete lamp, and please email or tweet photos to @benuyeda or ben@homemade-modern.com. For more detailed instructions, dimensioned drawings and different variations of the project, check out our soon-to-be-released book.



    • Casting Contest

      Casting Contest
    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest
    • Make it Move Contest

      Make it Move Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    Love it. Great idea and fun piece. I'm going to shrink it down to place in my mid-century modern dollhouse. Thank you.

    if i wasn't renting i d' make one tomorrow.. nice work

    Now, there ye be. Someone is thinking, being artfully creative with the stuff that's at hand. Good on ya.

    I hope for your own sake than in this book you are selling you don't tell people to "strip the wires and twist them together, cover the exposed metal with electrical tape" or you will be buried in law suits from people's houses catching on fire. It's very irresponsible to do that on your own project, but its criminal to instruct people to use such unsafe methods.

    I would highly encourage anybody that wants to try doing this project to use a safer method, be it buying a socket you can screw the wire into, or if cutting a wire then crimping it back together or soldering them and using heat shrink over the exposed wire so it stays in place. Electrical tape will not stay in place for long, specially when used so closed to a heat source (bulb).

    Please be safe, doing this project as instructed here can cause a fire which could lead to serious injuries or death ?☠?☠?☠?☠?☠?☠?☠?

    This is really cool and yet so many decorating options available to one's liking. Just a few suggestions that would reduce one's labor and construction time and, make it prettier if preferred.

    1-no need to drill holes; pre-cut varying sizes of Cylinder tubes made from PVC, copper, straws, beads w/holes and/or clear or colored glass stones. Drill holes through both containers before filling. Then reach through opening of the pop bottle top and insert your choice of pre-cut cylinder tubes that which the width do not extend beyond either side of the walls of the cement once dried. Pour cement and let dry. No need to remove any cylinder type parts or drill any holes, as the choice tubes and/or decor stones etc. for the holes are permanent, h2o proof and non-flammable.

    2-you could exclude the cost of, and lighting materials, while obtaining the same light effect by placing a battery tea light candle underneath the light box on a surface.

    3-use pint size milk cartons for a smaller versions, to create a string of hanging lights or a personal one for each person at a meal setting.

    4-use colored cement, add jewels, stones, glass beads, any decor that can be glued to the exterior side or pushed through the wet cement to permanently set one's choice of decor pieces.

    Great idea.

    Could you use wooden dowels or even cardboard tubes to form the holes? Then simply burn them out in a kiln, instead of chipping and drilling the holes or trying to dig out PVC.

    Really cool idea. You could also add colored glass or old camera filters to change the light effect.
    Nice job. you've got my vote. B )
    B )

    Where have you been? The lamps and lighting contest just got over. Just love your concrete lamps :). Thanks for sharing.

    I don't think it's a reasonable suggestion to buy 80lbs of concrete for a project, that needs maybe 1lbs. Really.

    1 reply

    I don't know about you, but if I was making one of these, I would make many more after my test worked out!

    You need a hammer drill to use diamond concrete bits, otherwise, you will waste your bits in a snap.

    Did you just cut the bottle to even with the concrete or were you able to get the bottle out?

    if i wasn't renting i d' make one tomorrow.. nice work

    if you wax or spray the bolt with something like WD-40 before the pour, it will be easier to remove from the concrete. a plastic 5 gallon bucket would work better for mixing

    Please tell me that you aren't actually mending those wires by twisting them and applying electrical tape. If you would, place a note on this instructable letting people know that they should solder, crimp, or at least, wire nut their wires.

    I would strongly suggest you open the socket and unscrew the wire from it. thread the wire through the hole and screw it back into the socket. Cleaner and safer.

    It would probably look cleaner and more polished if you were to glue in place something like a small piece of greased dowel rod or PVC pipe into the mold prior to filling with concrete so that the mold forms around it to leave your holes instead of having to chip away at the concrete until you can start the masonry bit. It might be a little more effort to get the dowel pieces out, but for those who want a clean, finished look and/or don't have access to masonry bits it would be a good alternative.