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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.)
 
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Step 1: Create Pilot Hole Template For Jar Lids

Picture of Create Pilot Hole Template For Jar Lids
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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/ 
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LoopyMind4 months ago

I don't see this in the pictures, but it's probably a good and safe idea to tie knots in the cables so that the weight of the jars don't put tension on the wires going into those grounding bars, and literally hang from those, that, or you could loop the wire trough a (metal, rubber) washer once (easier for adjusting the length of the wires if needed).. OR put a big zip-tie on it.. as long as there is slack between the cable going from the bars to the hole.

katlinbr (author) 1 month ago

Hello all. I've been getting questions on my blog about materials for this project and will answer them in a collective form here. It's been awhile so I'm not sure where I purchased all of the materials but most came from Home Depot.

I did get some sockets from: http://www.hardwarestore.com/search.aspx?query=ke...

Also, some hardware (nipples, etc.) came from: http://www.hardwareandtools.com/crossbars-keys-ni...

The old fashion cords came from a guy on the Northside of Chicago however, I did get samples from this place: http://www.sundialwire.com/2-conductorwire-1.aspx

Other helpful sites are as follows:

http://www.wireityourself.com/

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/lighting-light-f...

I hope this helps.

Happy building!

donald.stockton made it!8 months ago

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

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Could you tell me where you got the light parts that screw into the jars, please. I like the look. You did a great job.

I actually purchased complete pendant light kits from Westinghouse. Home Depot and Lowes have bits and pieces you can put together on your own though.

Thanks. Now to go out and get the supplies.

https://youtu.be/qjif6rXol40 This is a link to the video of the build.

Oh, now that is a nice job.. Kudos sir ;)

katlinbr (author)  donald.stockton8 months ago

Looks fantastic!! Great job.

http://youtu.be/qjif6rXol40 Here's a video of the process!
pborja made it!11 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!

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dhague pborja2 months ago

nice work! Well done :)

katlinbr (author)  pborja9 months ago

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

pattiemelt2 months ago

Great 'ible! Now to figure out how to make a solar model to put out on a covered patio that has no wiring!

katlinbr (author)  pattiemelt2 months ago
Sounds like a great idea. Let's do it together. Virtually, of course.
jolene.newton3 months ago
I added a pic of what I plan on building but with added mason jars, I assume u would do the same thing with the grounding bars and lamp cords on this on top of the log, my question is how do u connect the grounding bars to the ceiling wire? We're building a cabin and I've wired all the lights but I've never seen a grounding bar and I'm quite confused on how it wires to the ceiling, your light is beautiful btw
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katlinbr (author)  jolene.newton3 months ago
That's really cool looking plan! The grounding bar (or Bus Bar) wires are gathered together (See Steps 6 & 7) and then connected to the ceiling wiring. Please note: I am not an electrician. PLEASE BE SAFE. I had a certified electrician review my work before I installed it. I hope this helps.
Thank u so much for responding! I did find 2 bus boards at lowes but I did not see wires that came off of them to connect them to the ceiling. The lowes guy said 14 wire should work and to just connect the pos and neg one to each board and likewise to the ceiling, I have 2 brothers who are electricians and can see what I've done after I complete it, they work tons of hours away from town and I hate bothering them so I'm doing as much as possible before I ask one to inspect. Just wondering tho because lowes has told me wrong before if 14 wire is a good choice
teresa.heitz4 months ago

i am going to make a chandelier similar to this and your instructions are so helpful, but i do have questions about the wiring. first, i want to use a plug in type instead of hard wiring. i assume the 2 wires you used for hard wiring could be used for the plug in wiring? also i am a bit confused about the ground bar. you used 9 terminal for 10 lights. does this mean the left over wire is what you used to hard wire? and could i then use those to for the plug in wiring? do those wires connect to the terminal at all and if so, how? thanks so much for information. i am loving your blog!

katlinbr (author)  teresa.heitz4 months ago

Teresa: if you would, email me and then we can get discuss. brucekatlin@mac.com

zdgarner1986 made it!1 year ago

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

Thanks for the excellent instructable.

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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.
cassiemaas2 years 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.
pmclean12 years ago
I love this and will be trying it!
katlinbr (author)  pmclean12 years ago
Did you start yet?
Soozyk2 years ago
I'm going to make one for my dining room. Great instructions, TY !!
katlinbr (author)  Soozyk2 years ago
Good luck and let me know how it turns out.
zacker2 years 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.
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