How to Make a Chandelier Using Mason Jars

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Introduction: How to Make a Chandelier Using Mason Jars

We made this chandelier to be the centerpiece of our dining room.  You can check out this DIY and Design projects like this one on our blog, www.KaraPaslayDesigns.blogspot.com.

And before I get started, I want to make a DISCLAIMER: I am not an electrician and will not assume responsibility for any damage that occurs as a result of you attempting this project.  If at any point you feel uncomfortable, hire an electrician!  We have had this chandler installed in our house for about two years without any problems.  

There are a lot a steps involved but I will do my best to explain things in terms anyone can understand. So, here goes. . .


Step 1:

First gather all your materials. You will need:

- Canning Jars with lids (6 large, 9 widemouth, 6 small)
-Wire (18-2 Lamp Cord)
-#10 Washers
- Hex Nuts (that will fit your nipple (which is the threaded metal rod))
- Steel Nipples
- Small Hose Clamp
- 4 Keyless Sockets
- 4" offset crossbar
- 4" PVC cap (found in plumbing section. We used this as the ceiling plate because it provides a lot of room to accommodate all the wires that are coming from the fixture.
-3" machine screws (to attach the ceiling plate to the crossbar)
-2 Acorn nuts
-2 wire nuts














Step 2:

It maybe hard to tell from the pictures, but only four of the jars contain lights.  We have had some other people try to add more lights and some have experienced bulbs bursting.  I think the ratio of lighted to non lighted bulbs we have is close to ideal.  You could try more if you like, just be prepared for what might happen.

Select the four jars you want to hold lights (make sure the socket and bulbs will fit.)  and then drill a hole large enough to accommodate the diameter of your steel nipple.  

Next, drill four ventilation holes around the periphery of the lid.  This will allow the heat created by the bulb to escape.   

For the remaining 17 jars, you will need to drill a hole that is large enough to fit your wire.    



Step 3:

Now we will prepare our wire to string each jar.  I am providing measurements and quantities to recreate a chandelier similar to the one in the pictures, but feel free to adjust anything you wish to create a fixture that fits your personal space.

Cut 21 lengths of wire at 2 feet each.

Then, use wire strippers and/or a razor blade to split the plastic coating on one end and reveal the metal wire underneath.  You will want to about 3/4 of exposed wire.

For the 17 jars that will remain unlit, push the wire through the hole in your lid and string a washer onto one wire and then twist the two together to secure it.




Step 4:

Now it's time to work on the lids that will hold the lights.

I documented the steps I took to create our first chandelier, since then I have refined the process a bit and will include tips I have learned from successive productions.  

For this first fixture I purchased 6" lengths of steel nipples and cut the 1" sections I needed with a circular saw/ grinder with a fiber wheel.  I recommend threading a nut on your nipple before you begin cutting so that when you are done you will be able to "rethread" your cut section by removing the nut.  I purchased these materials from Home Depot.

Since then I have found a local hardware that specializes in repairing chandeliers and lamps that carries individual nipples in 1/4" increments.  Now I buy as many as I need in whatever length I desire and don't have to worry about fouling threads or sparks.


Step 5:

Screw your hex nut onto your nipple.  Next, push the nipple through the hole in your lid. And then screw on the Keyless Socket. Tighten everything together.

When you open your keyless socket, it will have a cardboard sleeve around it.  Do not throw this away thinking it is packing material.  For now you can remove it, but you will need to reinstall it later.  

Step 6:

Now we are ready to wire the lit jars.  Take one of the four remaining 2' wire sections you have and feel the rubber insulation.  One of the wire will have a ridge while the other will be smooth.  The "ridged" wire will be connected to the silver screw of your socket and the smooth will attach to the brass screw.  

One the stripped end of your wire pull the wires apart about a 1/2" down.  (Reference the picture above)

Insert this end of the wire into the steel nipple.  Paying attention which wire will go to which screw separate the wires as the exit the nipple.

Loosen the screws and wrap the wire clock wise underneath them. Then tighten them back down.  Replace cardboard wrap.  


Step 7:

Drill a hole through the middle of your PVC cap.  We used a 1" spade bit (a hole saw will work as well) to accommodate all of our wires.  Bundle all of your wires together and compare to your bit before you drill.  

Our cap had raised writing on the center of the cap.  You can sand this off with sand paper.  It isn't a bad idea to give the entire cap a light sanding with a fine grit sandpaper.  It will help you paint stick.  Paint whatever color you desire. 

If the cap is too deep for your liking, you can cut it down. We took off about an inch.  I recommend carefully using a handsaw or coping saw.  If you want to do it quickly with a miter saw create a jig to hold it securely in place.  

Next you will need to drill two smaller holes to connect your PVC housing to the mounting plate.  Be sure figure out which holes you will use to connect your plate to the junction box and then decide which two holes you will use to connect the PVC housing.  Make your holes large enough to accommodate 3" machine screws that fit your mounting plate.

Step 8:

Screw all your jars to your lids. Gather the wires together raising and lowering different ones to get the shape you want. This is definitely a two person job.  You need someone to hold all the jars in the air while someone else arranges them in to an aesthetically pleasing grouping.  You will also need to decide how far your chandelier is going to hang from the ceiling.  

Once you have the shape you want and the distance it will hang, push all the wires through the PVC cap/ceiling plate and then through your hose clamp. TIGHTEN YOUR HOSE CLAMP AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! It will be holding all the weight of the jars.

Although I didn't do it for the one hanging in our living room, I have decided it would be a great idea to wrap your wire bundle with a few layers of electrical tape before installing your hose clamp.  

Step 9:

Cut all the wires back that are not connected to the keyless sockets. It is best to tag these wires from the very beginning so you don't cut something you shouldn't.

Strip the insulation of the "lit" wires, exposing about 3/4" of wire.   Group your four neutral wires and then separately group your four hot wires.   HOT WIRES=Smooth plastic coating NEUTRAL WIRES= ridged plastic coating

Create a "pig tail" from a small piece of wire.  Using a 4"-6" scarp of wire strip the insulation from both ends.  You can leave the two wires together in the center or you can pull them completely apart and have separate neutral and hot pigtails.  

Attach the neutral pigtail to the group of neutral wires using a appropriately sized wire nut.  Do the same for your hot wires. 

Step 10:

All that is left is to install your new fixture.  It is a good idea to have another set of hands during this step to help hold the weight while you make your connections.

Connect your "hot" pigtail to the black wire in the ceiling and the neutral pigtail to the white wire from the ceiling. 

I recommend installing the 3" screws (or whatever size you need based on your housing) to your mounting plate and fitting the housing over these.  You will need to install the acorn nuts and then keep turning them until they hold PVC housing tight against the ceiling. If you do it this way you need to make sure you insert the machine screws into the threaded holes in the mountain plate.

That's it.  I love this unique light fixtures and gotten lots of positive feedback.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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17 Comments

I built one of these as a prototype with a 40 watt bulb and had hung it in the basement overnight to see if the heat of the bulb in a closed container would cause any problems. Here's what I found:

1. The jar glass was dangerous to touch
2. The insulation of the wire coming out of the jar was hot and very soft, which is how it feels before the insulation melts, which would be dangerous.
3. It is beautiful!

You make these things, so maybe you are doing something else to dissapate the heat. Any ideas? I'd like to make a chandelier with these jars, but frankly I don't consider it safe (As an electrical engineer, I worry more than others).

Cooling is the BIG word here: Cooling holes should be drilled on the metal cap - at least 4 1/2 in diameter. Also use compact fluorescent bulbs - they run cooler than standard incandescent bulbs. Drawbacks: color of light and possible mercury contamination issues. You can also use LED bulbs, which are also cool running AND very low effective wattage. The main drawback here is cost.

I´m currently designing outdoor low wattage lighting fixtures using large (1 to 1 1/2 gallon condiment jars, which use the same kind of lids.

Keep it up!

I like that you prototyped and tested it on a small scale and I really appreciate that you are trusting YOUR gut and not just going off of what someone else told you.

Besides the four holes in the lids I haven't made any other considerations for heat dissipation. We have had ours up for two years now without any problems.

Let me leave it on for a while and check jar temperatures and the insulation. I will get back with you with what I find out.

this light is beautiful. I have made one from an actual standing lamp, that my daughter's bunny chewed the wires on. I just bought a swag lamp kit and turned it into a mason jar lamp. I love it....thanks for sharing

Funky :) 4 stars.

great look! I'll be making one for my grandmother's house.

I love this! Very cool, nice work! Redneck chic? I was thinking more hillbilly whimsy. ;)

You could also try inserting a bunch of the flickering candle LEDs (see e.g. http://evilmadscience.com/component/content/article/189), for a "jars of fireflies" effect. Maybe put one bright bulb in the center, so you can switch between mood lighting and bright illumination.

Hi...I hope you don't mind, but I have a suggestion. Since only about a quarter of the jars have working lights why not cut your materials list by using coated cable(similar diameter, look, and less weight) that is folded in half at the top and draped over a short rod or bolt? You can then save time cutting all those short nipples, and use the zinc sleeves which are compressed over the cable ends. You might even get the hardware clerk to do that for you! If you use the "folded cable" method, you might even be able to manually alter the height of individual jars to change the look by pushing one cable up and/or pulling the other side down (watch for movement) coated or uncoated cables, weigh the desired qualities yourself.

One last thing...I think I would paint the cardboard socket cover white or silver, and glue the tiny clear glass glitter or beads all over it, to increase the sparkle factor. Great instructable!