Introduction: Japanese Style Mason Jar Table Top Lantern

About: I'm a Creative Director/Designer/Photographer always thinking and always creating. Inside and outside the box. I opened up El Cafecito Culture were I get to design, create and produce merchandising items aimed…

I'll show you how to transform a Mason jar into a beautiful Japanese table lantern. I'll even show you how to create two beautiful lighting moods!! I recommend making several of these to display them in a patio or outdoor area location.

Step 1: Step 1: Basic Items to Get You Started

Photo contains a list of items you will need. In order to do a good job, I also recommend using a portable drill with 1/4" drill bit, an angle drill guide (or drill press if you own one) and a table mitter saw.

Step 2: Step 2: Selecting a Nice Piece of Wood

I bought a 6 ft. piece of SELECT PINE at Home Depot. Size being 0.75" X 4.5". Using your miter saw, go ahead and cut a 4.5" piece to make it a square as shown in photo. In my case I went ahead and cut a number of them since I plan do a number of lanterns.

Step 3: Step 3: Painting the Jar Lid Pieces

Select the color of your choice and spray paint them both. Be sure you spray the pieces as shown. Allow them to dry thoroughly. If possible allow them to dry under a good sun exposure to help bake the paint to the metal.

Step 4: Step 4: Making a Template to Establish Legs and Center Locations

Place your 4.5" X 4.5" piece of board on a piece of paper. Using a pencil, draw its outline. Draw all the cross lines as shown on the photo. With the pencil make good pencil marks on the center of the square and on the centers of three of the smaller squares. If you want to do four legs, then do the centers of all the small squares.

Now, go ahead and cut out the template from the sheet and place on top of the board. Be sure you place the template on the bottom side of the board. Using the Xacto knife, go ahead and make puncture marks on the wood using for reference the dots you made. DO NOT DO THE CENTER ONE. Go ahead and flip the board over so now its the top side of the board. Position your template and make a puncture mark on the center dot you made.

Step 5: Step 5: Marking the Locations on the Board With Pencil

Use the pencil to mark the spots you made with the Xacto knife on both sides of the board. This will allow you to see the locations and the centers for the legs and the board itself.

Step 6: Step 6: Drilling the Center Hole

This is the reason why we made the center mark on the top side of the board. Drilling from the top will give a nice, clean entrance. Use 1/4" drill bit. It's just the right size opening for the string of lights to go through.

This photo shows a nice angle drill guide I bought at Harbor Freight for around $20.00 and it has worked great for small pieces such as this one. If you have a drill press, more power to you. I DO NOT recommend trying to drill a straight 90 with a hand held drill. Nine out of ten, it won't go in straight.

Step 7: Step 7:Time to Chose Your Stain/s and Brushes

If you're using softer woods such as Pine or Maple (like I am) I recommend treating the wood with a pre stain wood conditioner. This will help create a unified absorption of the stain. Allow the conditioner to dry for 30 minutes before staining. I used two brushes, a 1" and a 2". I used the 2" to apply the conditioner and the stain and the 1" to apply the polyurethane.

Step 8: Step 8: Applying the Stain

After applying the pre stain conditioner and you allowed it to absorb for 30 minutes, go ahead and apply the stain. Work your brush strokes going with the grain. TIP- insert pencil into the center hole and use it as a handle to make it easier to stain the board all around.The intensity of the stain is determined by the coats you apply. TIP- Let the first coat take hold before deciding if you need additional ones. In my case and my stain of choice, I applied two coats. Finish the process by wiping the board with a clean rag to remove any excess that may be there.

Step 9: Step 9: Pencil Mark the Locations of the Legs

For the legs, I purchased a 5/8" wood dowel and cut them to a length of 1.5" using the miter saw.

Using a circle template select the 5/8" hole and draw circles where you made your pencil marks. Use the dot as the center for each of the holes. This will help you position the legs when you're ready to glue them.

Step 10: Step 10: Glue and Stain the Legs

Go ahead and apply a small dab of carpenter's wood glue to each of the legs and use the circles you just made to help you position them in place. Allow them to dry until they feel secure and attached. Once tested, go ahead and do the same for the legs: apply the pre stain conditioner, allow it to dry for 30 minutes and repeat the staining process. TIP- Since the wood of the legs may vary from the board, you may have to apply several coats of stain to come close to the tonal value of the board.

Step 11: Step 11: Time to Apply the Polyurethane

Using the 1" brush and the polyurethane of choice go ahead and begin applying it over all the surfaces. TIP - As before, insert the pencil in the center hole and use it as a handle to help you apply it. Allow the first coat to dry and go ahead and apply a second one. This will give the wood a nice overall finish.

Step 12: Step 12: Glueing the Lid Pieces

Position the lid part in the center of the board. Use a pencil and draw the inside circle on the board. This will help you to guide it in position when you're ready to glue it on. Mix your epoxy. Put a small dab at the bottom of your glass marble (or object of choice) and place it at the center of the cap. Allow it to dry.

Place several dabs of epoxy around the cap and use the circle to guide you into positioning it on the board. Allow it dry.

Once the marble dries, go ahead and apply several dabs of epoxy along the glass surface of the bottom of the jar and position the cap into place. Allow it to dry.

Step 13: Step 13: Adding the Leg Bumpers

Adding these bumpers to the legs will provide a nice grip when placing it on any surface, specially glass or tile. I got these at Home Depot.

Step 14: Step 14: Putting It All Together!

Go ahead and screw the jar onto the lid on the board. You're now ready to light up your lantern!!

You have two options to light your Japanese style lantern.

1. Purchase a "natural" look artificial candle. This creates a very nice and soft light mood.

2. Purchase a string of lights to create a more brilliant and sparkling mood.

Installing both options is easy. For the candle, unscrew the jar, turn on the candle, place it on the board and screw the jar back on!

For the string of lights, insert the string from the bottom through the center hole you made. Go ahead, turn it on and coil it just the way you want it to look. Go ahead and screw the jar back on!

To see both lighting effects, see the opening shot of my instructable.


Step 15: Step 15:

Mason Jar Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Mason Jar Speed Challenge