Instructables
Picture of Mason Jar Chandelier
After living for close to two years without enough live/work light I decided to make a lighting fixture. One that would meet my specific needs without costing an arm and a leg. I had long thought of putting light bulbs in the hundreds of peanut butter and applesauce jars that I had eaten my way through. I had also collected my fair share of mason jars and thought that they too could make for an inexpensive solution. In the end I chose the mason jars as they don't come with sticky and hard to remove manufactures' labels and I wouldn't have to wait until I ate my way through ten jars of Crazy Richard's chunky peanut butter.

Before I went about an actual design, I searched the web to see if anyone had built a chandelier made from mason jars or similar. I came across several do-it-your-selfers. The best was posted by Our Hiding Place which led me to Pottery Barn's Exeter 16 Jar Pendant Chandelier. It's a really nice design and lists for $399. I was determined to customize mine and make it for less but I wanted detailed step-by-step instructions and I wasn't finding them anywhere.

First thing I did was to determine how much light I needed and what the electrical requirements would be. (Disclosure: I am not an electrician and am not recommending voltage or wiring. Each State has their own codes regarding home wiring. Also, the following instructions will not guide you on how to wire the ceiling leads and wall switch.)

The space where I planned on having the chandelier is over my dining/art table. (I built the table to again, suit my particular needs.) There is an existing electrical port in the ceiling that unfortunately, due to inept design is positioned too close to one wall restricting the width of a ceiling fixture. After identifying the maximum voltage I could then decide on the number of jars and matching bulb wattage. (Voltage, watts and amps are different. Again, I am not an electrician but am lucky enough to have a friend who is one hell of an incredible licensed electrician. If you don't know what you're doing, consult a licensed electrician.)

Based on my space and lighting needs, I decided on 10 jars with 25 watt bulbs. (Before you decide on the jars and the bulbs make sure the bulbs will fit inside the jars.) I tested different jars and bulbs first, before committing to the final design. I wanted to make sure that the heat generated from the bulbs wouldn't cause the jars to break or create condensation inside the jars. For the tests I purchased a simple lamp cord kit from the local hardware store. (It's a cord with a plug on one end and a socket on the other.) I already had a couple of mason jars on hand. My test proved successful so I ordered the rest of the needed parts. (See list on last Step or visit: http://brucekatlin.blogspot.com/ which includes links to vendors' sites.)
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Create Pilot Hole Template For Jar Lids

Picture of Create Pilot Hole Template For Jar Lids
JarTemplate.jpg
I decided to drill and wire the jars first, build the unit that would house the wiring after and then mount it to the ceiling. Being married to a hat designer helps with measurements. Together, we created a pilot hole template to drill through the lids of the jars where half of the metal nipple and wire passes through. I placed the paper pilot hole template on each lid and then screwed the outer piece of the locking lid on and marked the centered hole in preparation for drilling.

Step 2: Drill Lid Holes For Nipples, Attached Hex Nuts

Picture of Drill Lid Holes For Nipples, Attached Hex Nuts
Nipple-HexNut.JPG
Wrenched.JPG
Use a 1/4" metal drill bit to drill the holes in the lids and a 1/16" bit to drill 6 small holes around the lid to allow heat to escape from the jar. (I eyeballed the air holes, as no one would see them.) Next, insert the metal nipple through the hole leaving equal lengths on each side of the lid. Be careful, as the lids are very light gauge and razor sharp shards can cut fingers easily. I used a very fine metal sandpaper to remove the shards. Next, place a Hex nut on both sides of the lid and hand tighten before using a wrench to lock them into place.

Step 3: Measure Bottom of Ceiling Box For Drilling

Picture of Measure Bottom of Ceiling Box For Drilling
Ready2WireJar-rows.JPG
Decide where you want the jars to hang from the bottom of the box that will be secured to the ceiling. Measure the center of the jars against the width and length of the 'junction' (ceiling) box so that the jars would be positioned proportionately. Drill holes large enough to accommodate lamp wire width, Holes will be drilled through the red circles in the below picture and the wires will go through them. The wires will ultimately be connected to the lead wires in the ceiling. (No, you're not crazy, I took the 2nd picture of the jars before I wired the keyless sockets.)

Step 4: Wire the Keyless Light Socket

Picture of Wire the Keyless Light Socket
With all of the lids drilled and the nipples locked down by the Hex nuts, it's time to wire the keyless sockets as pictured below. Make sure to pass one end of the wire through both parts of the lid, (Mason jars have air-tight lids by having two parts: one is the thin flat piece and the other is the screw-on cap) and then through the nipple. (We wanted the jars to hang 3' from the ceiling and cut the wire accordingly.) Before wiring to the two screws on the socket, you'll have to strip the wire covering with wire cutters. There is a positive and negative wire. It depends on the wire you choose as to which is which.

Step 5: Pass the Wires Through Both Parts of Lid

Picture of Pass the Wires Through Both Parts of Lid
TestJar.JPG
After the wire has been passed through both parts of the lid and the nipple, screw the keyless light socket onto the underside portion of the nipple. This is portion of the nipple that goes inside the jar. Screw the bulb into the keyless socket. At this point, your wiring and hardware should look like the picture below. 

Each jar should now look like the second picture. Before attaching the other end of the wire to the ceiling wires, unscrew the lid and take the glass jar off. You don't want the extra weight at this point.

Step 6: Attach Electrical Grounding Bars

Picture of Attach Electrical Grounding Bars
One of the best products ever invented is probably the Electric Grounding Bar. I used it to 'piggyback' all ten of the wires into two. The two wires will connect to the lead wires in the ceiling. The grounding bar is screwed into the junction (ceiling) box bottom as pictured below. I placed the bars close enough to the lamp cords but far enough away from each other as not to create a short. The corded  lamp wire is poking through the pre-drilled holes. (Refer to Step 3 where you drilled the box bottom wire holes.) You will be bringing each of the ten lamp wires through the pre-drilled holes in the box's bottom. 

Step 7: Split The Wires - Attach to Grounding Bar

Picture of Split The Wires - Attach to Grounding Bar
BarCompleted.JPG
WiresPassedBtm.JPG
Next, split the corded lamp wire so that the two wires are separated from each other, enough to reach each bar. Strip away 1/2" of the wire's insulation and insert into an open hole in the bar. Hand tighten using a Phillips screw driver the bar screws so that each wire is screwed to one side of the bar as pictured below. Using electrical tape, cover any exposed wire. (I used extra tape to ensure that non of the Rayon coded cord would be exposed.)

Step 8: Construct & Mount Ceiling Box

Picture of Construct & Mount Ceiling Box
The most difficult part of this project was creating a box for the wires to be housed and that could be mounted to our concrete ceilings. I wanted to make this as simple as possible so I designed a topless box. You can make this any size you want. I wanted something as narrow as possible but deep enough to hold the wires and hardware. I cut a basic rectangle shape (see parts list below) using a 1" x 8" pine board for the bottom of the box and 1/2" x 2" poplar for the sides. I screwed the sides to the bottom using pre-drilled and countersunk holes and then screwed six 1/2" brackets to the inside portion of the box sides. The brackets were then screwed to the ceiling using a concrete drill bit and drill.

I am assuming that at this point you or someone else, (a licensed electrician perhaps?) has completed all of the appropriate wiring in the ceiling and on the wall switch. (I used a dimmer switch.) Have someone help you to lift the jars towards the ceiling as you place the box's bottom into place. Screw the box's bottom to the four sides, cover the holes and screws with wood putty and paint with color of your choice. 

Step 9:

Picture of
Now, screw the jars back onto their lids. If you measured correctly the jars should hang exactly where you wanted them. Turn the wall switch on and bathe in the light and satisfaction of a job well done.

Step 10: Parts List, Costs and Tools

1 case of Kerr Wide Mouth, 16 Ounce Mason Jars - $22.45
10 Keyless light-holder socket - $3.49 each
10 GE 25-Watt Crystal Clear G16.5 Globe Candelabra Base Incandescent Light Bulb (4-Pack) - $3.87
10 - 1/8 Nipples - .10 each. Pictured going through the lid of the jar and screwed into the keyless socket. The lighting wire will pass through them.
20 - 1/8-27 Zinc Hex Nuts .05 each. Used to secure the lid and the nipples together. Nuts and nipples where purchased from the great folks at Grand Brass who were extremely knowledgeable and helpful.
2 Electric 9 Terminal Ground Bar Kit - $5.22
Rayon or cotton covered lamp cord; 40 feet at $2 per foot. (You can find less expensive wire but I really like the old-timey look of the rayon or cotton covered wire. I purchased an extra 10' just "in case". You can find this at The Antique Lamp Company, eBay or Amazon.)
1 x 8 x 6 pine board - $16.45  (I cut mine to 29" for the bottom of the 'junction box'. The left over cut has been put to good use on another project.)
1/2 x 2 x 4  Poplar board for sides of junction box - $2.67
1 box of #9 x 1" Flat Head wood screws - $1.24
1/2" brackets - $2.77 each (You can get them much cheaper.)
Martha Stewart Black Coffee Metallic Glaze Specialty Finish - $5.48
Electrical tape - $2
Colored wood putty - $1.40

Tools:
Wire cutters
Phillips head screw driver
Electric drill and 1/4" bit
Hand saw

To see links to vendors' sites, go to: http://brucekatlin.blogspot.com/ 
donald.stockton made it!2 months ago

Gave this a shot. I made a bracket that made it float off the ceiling.

1795334_10100182899455059_4959626909667330050_o.jpg
katlinbr (author)  donald.stockton2 months ago

Looks fantastic!! Great job.

http://youtu.be/qjif6rXol40 Here's a video of the process!
pborja made it!5 months ago

Hi, I made this lamp, but the mason jars started to smell like amonia. Can you tell me if the ones you made smelled the same? I didnt make two small holes to let the heat go. But I dont know if is this the problem. Can you tell me what you think? Tips please!

10403063_258344457705165_4447666455421713205_n.jpg
katlinbr (author)  pborja4 months ago

Pborja: I believe I answered your question but please tell me if you require more info. B

zdgarner1986 made it!9 months ago

Made this for the dining room in my new home. Looks great!

Thanks for the excellent instructable.

13 - 1.jpg
today me and my wife went to lowes and as always stopped to look for a ceiling fan or chandelier for the dining room. found a hanging light with lampshade on it and got us to coming up with designs of our own. one of which was mason jar chanelier. get home and find this instructable. well done and very informative! thank you and to all the commenters. how are they holding up and how is the heat from the lights?
katlinbr (author)  kdf.inc19691 year ago
Glad to hear that you like the project. Since I posted this instructable I've increased wattage of half of the bulbs to 40w and have of course while hot to the touch if left on for a while, they have not overheated. Just make sure to drill the small air holes in the lids.

Bruce
Well written and nice pictures. I'm going to be doing this with wine bottles...I like the idea of using the grounding bar. Bravo! Wayne
katlinbr (author)  divedaddy031 year ago
Many thx. Let me know if you have any questions.
cassiemaas1 year ago
I'm wondering how this would look if you covered the sides of the jars with torn tissue paper and applied it with Vano Liquid starch. The bottoms would be clear to direct the light downward, but the tissue paper would add color to the fixture.
pmclean11 year ago
I love this and will be trying it!
katlinbr (author)  pmclean11 year ago
Did you start yet?
Soozyk1 year ago
I'm going to make one for my dining room. Great instructions, TY !!
katlinbr (author)  Soozyk1 year ago
Good luck and let me know how it turns out.
zacker1 year ago
these look great!! Great idea too! Would drilling a couple holes in each lid keep condensation down? Id like to use 40 watt bulbs in two or three four jar lamps over our center island...
I am going to make a 4 lamp chandelier to go over my sink. There is no junction box to tie into so it will be corded, do you have any suggestions on how to do this safely? Thank you, your chandelier is brilliantly made and helped me design mine.
so it will be more like a swag ...? it will just hang from the ceiling and the wires will run down the wall to an outlet which youll plug the lamp into correct? if so, you can buy some chain, the thin stuff they use on some lights that hand from a ceiling... then get a colored cord to match the chains color, weave the cord through the chain from floor to lamp. it wont be the best looking thing but it will work. or use that "outside the wall" channel that goes over the wires so you dont see them then run the wires into the wall and fish them over to the closest outlet or switch to power them. Good luck!
katlinbr (author)  candacegeldreich2 years ago
There are a couple of options but as I mentioned several times in the instructions and in comments below, make safety first and consult an electrician if you're not confident about electrical connections.

You can purchase individual lamp cord kits. The ones that IKEA sells are very popular. You can either connect them to a power strip or cut the plug ends off, piggy-back them into one cord. The instructions that this designer used will help you: http://www.sproutingoff.com/?p=206

Good luck and let me know how it works out.
ellenml2 years ago
great instructable! I love the lights, I have been looking for something like this!
bajablue2 years ago
This is really beautiful. Thanks for sharing your project!
To expand on strehlow's comments;

Cast about for a electrical product called a terminal block. Radio Shack probably has them, and many places on line. They come in sizes from one wire to dozens. They insulate the connections and cover some of them cover the connections to prevent accidental shocks.

They look as professional as bus bars, if not moreso. I do like that repurposed bus bars by the way, they certainly are handy.

Find nylon washer and bolts, if nothing else, to raise and insulate your bus bars. Available at hardware stores that have the whole aisle of nuts/bolts/fasteners/wingthingies.

That said, VERY nice looking. Nice proportions. Really well done.

Cheers,

Fin
If the bus bars are enclosed in the box, where is the potential for shock?

Terminal blocks are used to connect 2 wires unless a jumper strip is used.

The lamp cord should have only enough insulation removed to expose approx.
1/4" of wire exposed. Electrical tape is only a band aid.

I do like the lamp.

Joe
katlinbr (author)  smokin joe2 years ago
Joe: Thanks for your comments. I used the electrical tape as mentioned in the how-to steps to prevent the nylon cord from fraying. Additionally, I originally planned on "piggy-backing" the wires but decided on the bus bars as better.
katlinbr (author) 2 years ago
Addressing Fin and Strehlow's most excellent comments, please see my reply:

Safety was my number one concern when building this project. (Electricity scares me). As I wrote in the introduction to the project, I consulted an electrician, as I am not one. Strehlow's comment is correct that, the wired socket pictured is incorrectly wired, (I would have replaced the photos if, I had taken them) I did wire all ten correctly as noted.

Regarding the bus bars being attached directly to the wood: the ceiling is 4' sealed concrete. There are no water sources above however, I agree that the bus bars be place "inside a plastic or metal box within the wooden one" or use Fin's suggestion of using nylon washers to raise the bus bar from off the wood.

Lastly, the screws that attached the sides of the wooden box are accessible, as I puttied them lightly enough for easy location.

Thank you to both Fin and Strehlow for their helpful comments.
yellow21212 years ago
Good timing I was just thinking about building one of these myself. The only thing I was going to do different is drill holes around the lid to let heat escape. Do you notice the jars getting very hot?
katlinbr (author)  yellow21212 years ago
Yellow: I tested the jars for heat using several different size bulbs prior to construction and found that 40 watt bulbs created condensation. I tired 25 watt bulbs and used a 1/16" bit to drill 6 small holes around the lid to allow heat to escape from the jar. See step 2.) I had the lights on for 6 hours yesterday, turned to full power (they're on a dimmer) and the jars were moderately warm. Please let me know if you have any other questions and how your project works out.
druidrat2 years ago
Very nice.
Just a thought, but tinning the ends of the wire will keep it from fraying and give better electrical connections.
strehlow2 years ago
This is pretty nice. I have a few safety points though.

When placing the wires on the terminals in the sockets, always go around the screw clockwise. This is so the wire gets wrapped tighter as you tighten the screw. On yours, the wire is being pushed out from under the screw head as it is tightened.

Since the socket is hanging from the wire, it must have a strain relief. Typically this would be an "underwriter's knot." Another knot must be at the top. Do not rely on the electrical connections to be structural.

http://hope.edu/academic/engineering/labs/Electricity_Lab/Figures.html

Dropping a ground wire which is attached to the nipple to support the weight would be better. This is especially important as if one of the socket wires do pull off, the metal ring holding the jar in place could be energized.

Regarding the connections inside the box. The bus bars are fine for that but they cannot be attached directly to the wood. They must be on approved insulators. If water gets in there, the wood will become conductive and could start burning or be a shock hazard. And wood is not an approved electrical box. The connections should be inside a plastic or metal box within the wooden one.

A better solution would be to use crimp connectors to gather up all the wires down to a set of pigtails to connect to the in-wall wiring. That would probably be a bit cheaper than the grounding rails too.

The polarity must be maintained too. Yes, it is AC, but the two wires coming out of the box in the ceiling are not equal. The white one is grounded and the black or red is hot. The white wires must connect to the outside of the lamp sockets and the hot wire to the center terminal. This is so if someone changes a bulb with the power on, they don't get shocked touching the base of the bulb.

Finally, the box needs to be accessible. The screws cannot be puttied over. Any point where wires have connections must have an access point. So some other hanging approach would be preferred. A simple approach is to use another nipple protruding through the center that is attached to the ceiling with a flange, and then have a decorative cap nut to hold the box to the ceiling.
This is great! I may use your wiring technique to convert a few old bike rims into a chandelier.
katlinbr (author)  audreyobscura2 years ago
That sounds like a great idea. Please share it with me when you complete it.
Very pretty! I've been wanting to do something like this for years. :D
katlinbr (author)  jessyratfink2 years ago
Thank you Jessy. If you decide to build one, let me know if you have any questions and hopefully I'll be able to help.
kathynv2 years ago
Very, very nice. I'd make it with LCD lights in white or perhaps a yellow, because I am small and changing lightbulbs in a ceiling fixture is torture to me. If power use and changing bulbs is easy for you, then the 25 watt bulbs are perfect.

I was curious though: your ceiling looks like it's made of concrete, or perhaps panels of something. It goes very well with the chandelier but I was wondering what it was made of.
katlinbr (author)  kathynv2 years ago
Kathy: Thank you for your comments. I thought about going with LCDs as well but ultimately decided to go with the standard clear bulbs, as I do my art work on the table and prefer the standard light glow. I too am short and have the jars hanging 3' from the box so that I can reach them standing on a chair. Yes, the ceiling is solid concrete. I used a hammer-drill with a diamond tip to mount the box.
That is really cute, very wonderful first instructable congratulations.
katlinbr (author)  sofiadragon19792 years ago
Many thanks Sofia.