Introduction: DIY Menorah (Hanukkiah) - an Oil Lamp With a Story!

About: Thanks for stopping by! I'm Nir, a physics PhD student studying E. coli bacteria. On my free time I enjoy making all kinds of things - from laser cutting & 3D printing to baking, cooking and doing science expe…

In this instructable I'll show you how to make a Hannukah Menorah (Hanukkiah). A Menorah is a 9-branches lamp which is part of the Jewish tradition and the Hanukkah holiday. No matter your religion, a nice Menorah will bring light to your home which is great for this time of year. This is why I think a Menorah makes the perfect holiday decoration for everyone! :)

According to Jewish tradition, Hanukkah celebrates the rededication (in hebrew - Hannukah) of the second temple in Jerusalem. At the time, the Hebrew law stated that the temple's Menorah must be lit every night, and that a special kind of oil must used to do that. Unfortunately, when looking through the ruins of the old temple, Maccabees found only a single oil container, which could barely last for one night - much less than it would take for them to get more. Legend (or history?) says that while the oil was only supposed to keep the lamp burning for just one night, it lasted for 8 whole days! Just enough time to get a new supply of that special oil. This miracle is celebrated by lightning a Menorah for 8 days during Hanukkah.

After that brief introduction, let's make us a Menorah!

*My Menorah is not meant to be Kosher because we don't mind that in my family. If you want tips on how to make a Kosher Menorah I (ans Google) can help with that :)


1) A wood branch (preferably shaped like the letter 'Y').
2) Optional - 9 small oil cups or small glass tubes (like these).
3) Glue (hot glue works great).
4) oil + candle wicks (if you're going for the oil cups version) OR candles.

1) A wood saw.
2) A knife (I used my Leathman for that).
3) A drill & a wood drill bit.

Step 1: Lumber

Get a small-sized wood branch. It should be about 30-40cm long (12-16 inches) and about 4-5cm thick (~2 inches). If you can, find a branch that is still fresh - they're much easier to peel and carve. I used pine wood because we have plenty of those around here.
Cut off the excess wood. If your wood is shaped like a 'Y', you can leave one of the branches longer than the other. This helps stabilizing the Menorah (see pictures).

Step 2: Peel the Bark & Finish the Lumber

Peel / carve away the tree bark. I used a knife because I like the flat slicing marks which are left behind. If you the tree branch is still fresh, in many cases you can simply peel the bark off. To do that, you'll need to use a dull knife. Another method which often works is to carefully hit the branch with a rubber hammer. This only works for certain types of wood, but it's a good option if you want to keep the final product free of knife marks.

I also used the knife to carve the edges (see 3rd image).

If you like, you can also sand the wood and apply some finish oil to it.

Step 3: Drill Holes

Whether you're going to use oil lamps or candles, you'll need to drill holes for them. This is the time to do it. I used a drill and finished the holes with my Leathman knife to make them a bit nicer looking.
Make sure you space the holes far enough to make room for all of your candles / oil cups.

Step 4: Attach Oil Cups\ Candles

Using your choice of glue, attach the oil cups to the wood branch. The cups should fit inside the holes you drilled in the previous step.

I also added a small stopper made of hot glue to make sure my Menorah doesn't roll over (see 3rd images).

If you decided to use candles instead of oil cups - take a small piece of tin foil and glue it to the holes you drilled. The tin foil should cover the entire hole so that the candles can't light the wooden Menorah on fire (I don't have an image of this version! I can add images if people want).

Step 5: How to Fill Oil Lamps

When filling oil lamps, people often just fill the entire cup with oil. We fill them about half way through with water and only the rest with oil. We do this mostly because it looks nicer, but also because it makes things safer and helps us save on oil. Plus, oil burns really slow anyways.

Another reason to fill the lamps with water is related to the Jewish tradition - you're not supposed to extinguish Hannukah candles, so putting less oil means they might run out before you go to bed, which is safer :)

It doesn't really matter what type of oil you use, I used the stuff we had in the kitchen, but some people like to use olive oil. Your choice! Some types of oil make bad odor when you burn them - just make sure it's not one of those.

Once you've filled the oil caps, add candles wicks, and you're done!

*If you don't have candle wicks, you can make some on your own - they're basically just a piece of cotton rope.

Step 6: Light the Menorah!

It's tradition to leave your Menorah by the window so everyone can see it. You can now light it up and enjoy the festive Hannukah feeling it brings with it! Traditionally, on the first day of Hanukkah people light just the 'shamash' (one of the candles that is used to light the others) and one more light. Then on the 2nd day, they light the 'shamash' and two more candles, and so on. When they get to the 8th day of Hanukkah, people light up the entire Menorah.

Hope you liked my instructable! You can check out the rest of my instructables here :)

Happy holidays everyone!!

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