Picture of Torch made from coke can and cereal box.
Do we always have to throw everything away?
The torch project below looks at how we can transform materials that we would normally consider as waste, and makes them into a functional everyday product.

Hopefully it shows that we don't always have to go to the shops. An hour or so with some scissors, a coke can and a cereal box and you're pretty much set to go. 

What’s needed for this project
Hopefully most of the parts you’ll find in your kitchen cupboards

1 Torch bulb (Standard – NOT threaded)
2 AA (R6) Batteries or 2No C (R14) Batteries. (You will NOT need to make the battery holder if using size C)
1 Large cereal box to make the main body parts (24cm or 91/2" long) Bigger boxes tend to have stronger board
1 Coke can for making the bulb holder and switch mechanism
1 Length of thin parcel wrapping string - Approximately 200 cm or 80 inch for making a grip
1 Small square of cooking tin foil for making a reflector
1 Food colouring to dye the board (Water based are best or coloured inks) Dyes worked better than paints.
1 A small quantity of varnish to seal the cardboard parts. Acrylic varnishes are good.
1 Tube of super glue or other quick drying glue
1 Paint brush
1 Pair of scissors
1 Scalpel or craft knife
1 A paper hole puncher
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lashes36995 months ago
Hi. I'm trying to make this and my 2 double a batteries won't fit into the coke can contraption. Help!?!

hello, your torch is so beautiful and amazing, i am planning to make this as our investigatory project in physics because this is very low cost and it can help in recycling our waste. don' worry i will credit your work and cite the sources properly, if its okay with you. i love the design and how effiecient the torch is. your reply will be very much appreciated :)

paul em (author)  notyouraveragejane9 months ago
Thanks for the kind comments.
You are very welcome to use the design in your physics project. As I've mentioned to others, it's quite tricky to get right. I'd recommend you have plenty of cardboard for everyone to practice folding and glueing before you get to making a final version.

You don't mention which aspect of physics your covering. Clearly electricity & conductive materials. In designing the project, its goal was also to highlight friction fitting of parts (the inner tube to outer tube), how planner materials can become strong when folded, the elasticity of materials (the switch mechanism), and the focusing of light using the foil reflector.

I hope the project goes well. It provides a real sense of accomplishment when complete and working.
corat131 year ago

I just finished making this awesome project! I plan on making these with my kids. It works really well, and I loved the CAD drawings! I did have to adjust the bulb housing because it was too small to hold both AA batteries, but a small price to pay for such a great project! Keep it up!

paul em (author)  corat131 year ago


Glad you enjoyed making the torch. I think your kids will really like seeing how the whole project comes together. Its a hard challenge to get everything just so,

Not sure what happened with the cad file. The space for the batteries should be 100mm, but as long as you've got things to work, that's the main thing.

It would be good to see some photos once they're finished. Maybe you could add them to a new message.

Hope the project goes well.

wow these look amazing! i'm planning on making these soon, but i don't know what kind of bulb you mean by standard flashlight bulb. how many volts? also, if i finish using the batteries in the future, can i just take the batteries out and change them?
paul em (author)  lightningclaw0011 year ago

For the bulb, depending what country you are in, I would expect a DIY or hardware store would stock a standard flashlight bulb that works at around 3volts for using with 2 AA batteries. If you look at the pictures you will get a good idea of the type of bulb I trying to describe, as used in all flashlights and torches I've ever seen until the new LED and the special bulbs in Maglight.

As for the batteries, simple remove when you are done. You'll see how easy this is to do as you make it.

Hope it goes well
Oh man. This is awesome! I never would have thought to make a flashlight from those materials.
Wow. Your are ingenious!
sabu.dawdy3 years ago
never saw anything as beautiful as this... :) however i was thinking to show you something as well
mobile jacket.jpg
paul em (author)  sabu.dawdy3 years ago

Your work looks very detailed and allows people to easily create their own interpretation.
thank you :)
themoose643 years ago
i will have to try building this. it looks very cool
paul em (author)  themoose643 years ago
Hope it goes well.
l_skywalker3 years ago
this looks awesome! the pics are great, but how do you get the CAD drawing? you said we have to print it but where do you get it? please respond...
paul em (author)  l_skywalker3 years ago
Hi I Skywalker

You should be able to click on the PDF files. They're not Autocad files or the like, just simple line drawings that you can print of and cut around.

Hope this helps.
Oh ok thanks a lot ill try ti print it out in a sec. I notify you if i have any success making it. Thanks a ton
do you have to varnish it?
paul em (author)  l_skywalker3 years ago
The varnish helps protect the card board surface, so it best to have a couple of coats on especially if you've dyed the card with a colour.

Perhaps best to give a small test piece of unvarnished card a try to see how you feel about this approach.

Hope it goes well.
meanom3 years ago
I'd think this could be adapted to heavy duty foil (maybe folded over). Any comments? (I'll work at trying this out in the near future.)
paul em (author)  meanom3 years ago
Not seen heavy duty foil before except for cheesecake packaging. Sounds interesting so giving a go should be good. Would be a cool finish as well!
pdeotte3 years ago
I love this project! I'm putting on my schedule to do with my Girl Scout troop. Our whole theme for the year is recycling!
paul em (author)  pdeotte3 years ago
Hi pdeotte.

Glad you like the design and good luck with the project.
One thing that I've learnt from watching a local green green group try to make the torch is that its quite tricky at first to get a hang of folding the card to get a good square shape. I'd be tempted to have a good bunch of card available for practising on before trying to make the final design.

The same applies to the bending the coke can. It takes a little while for your hands and finger to get use to folding it unless however your already familiar suing such materials.

Hope it goes well.
pdeotte paul em3 years ago
Thanks for the tips. I plan to spend next weekend working on a few myself so I get the feel for where the girls are going to need extra help.
kd4uwk3 years ago
I think I will use LEDs On mine Thanks for Your Work
chaydgb3 years ago
Awesome 'ible, they look like the sort of thing you could buy in Ikea - very neat and minimalist.
chaitanyak3 years ago
beautifully finished!
like th efinal product.. so neat and tidy!
water rat3 years ago
Cool AND pretty! This is pretty damn awesome!
agis683 years ago
very professional job on this instructable....i like the catching images....too much work for me to get in trouble just for a torch but bravo and well done for you ...
This is one of the most interesting and well executed Instructables I have seen. The photography is excellent, especially the first photo which really catches the eye and draws you right in.  Bravo!
Krazeecain3 years ago
Holy crap, these are cool. It's actually quite inspiring, I had no idea such a well-finished product could be made out of scrap. Well done! I don't have any standard bulbs, but I do have some led's. I'll try to adapt them to work. (I happen to need a 'torch' too!)
paul em (author)  Krazeecain3 years ago
Hi Krazeecain

Glad you liked it.

Good luck with making one with LED's.
Was thinking about giving this ago myself sometime, so you'll have to post your pictures when you've finished it, and explain how you've adapted the LED's to work.
To much work for me, you should make these and sell them on Etsy
Agreed! If you aren't selling these already, you should be...they look so awesome :D
I agree too! What an awesome idea!
dose eny one know how to make a D.I.Y 3d printer that prints plastick if u do
email me on if you do i will tell u how to be cool
Great Job!
paul em (author) 3 years ago

Thanks for all your comments. Much appreciated.

@ Kiteman - I have done a fair bit of deign work over the years.
However, this is a research project looking at how products can be made locally by pretty much anyone, rather than buying.

And from a sustainability point of view, if you make something yourself, then chance are you'll enjoy making it, appreciate it more and keep it longer, cutting down on the trash we throw out.

Instructables it a whole new era of how individuals can 'make' and build up personal skills rather than just being purchasers.

@RoosterSocks - For sure you can give it a go with the graphics on the outside. The first few I made followed this route but as they were mock-ups the printed surface kept cracking as I learnt how to make things work. Maybe you'll have more luck, and perhaps try a varnish to see if it protect the print better.

As for the switch - it basically a piece of card that due to it been under friction, when pushed into the tube it presses against the bent aluminium section which flexes pushes to make the circuit. To turn it off you have to pull back the card.

I've approached the problem as been about reinterpreting a complicated and hard to manufacture part that you'd find in a normal torch, and turned it into something that's easy to get a feel for when you start making it with your hands. Hope this helps.
mary candy3 years ago
Very nice work ;)
this flashlight looks great! I love the simple design . i would have left it so you could see it was made of cereal boxes, like with Fruit Loops on the outside. However I am a little confused about the switch. . .
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