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The purpose of this Instructable is to show how to turn TRASH into TREASURE! Basically saving a beautiful growler and not so beautiful cookie tin from the recycling center. Rather than recycle it, re-purpose it! Following these steps can also be a great Summer Camp project. Perhaps substitute a glass bottle for a plastic bottle for safety around the kiddos.

By using these two items, a few tools, supplies, and micro LED light string a wonderful keepsake bottle lamp can be created.

What is a Growler you might ask? Simply put, a container used to transport draft beer from a bar or microbrewery outside the premises. Wish these were around during my college days when the only way you could transport draft beer was in your stomach. :-)

With the popularity of Microbreweries in the past 10 years or so, some businesses are enabling patrons to take there favorite draft beer home with them. There is a much longer history behind this container that you can Google on your own.

The bottom line here is we are going to take a great looking branded growler and turn it into a practical piece of home decor. Save it from the Trash and turn it into a Treasure.

Step 1: Supplies

The Growler Jug

Since my college days are long passed, have not really had the desire to save beer, liquor, or wine bottles as decoration or memory keepsakes. Most people will save their growler for their next trip to the Microbrewery for a take home refill. The bottle came to me full as a gift and I thoroughly enjoyed the contents. But, I do not frequent Microbreweries and thought it would be wasteful to throw this in with all the other recyclables on trash day. Gotta admit, it has a great branding on it. So, decided to re-purpose it into a lamp and re-gift it back to the original giver. Maybe I will get a full one in return? :-)

Cookie Tin

Originally I wanted to use a round tin that would fit with the shape of the bottle. But, all the tins we had laying around the house were to high profile and just took away from the bottle itself. Found this hexagon tin that had a low profile and had plenty of room to hold the battery pack, wiring, and mount the push button switch comfortably. Was already re-purposed for the past 10 years storing miscellaneous nuts and bolts in the garage.

  • Growler Jug: Free gift saved to be doomed to the recycle bin.
  • Cookie Tin: Free
  • Spray Paint: About $6 per can. This is a primer/paint combination. Lots of spray paint comes with primer included. Saves a step in the process. Thought the gold finish would complement the bottle and light color well.
  • Silicone Glue: About $4 a tube. A recommended solution to adhere glass to finished metal. Will dry nearly clear depending on how much you use. Works well to keep a light base attached to the heavier bottle.
  • Button Swtich: Less than $.50 per switch. When buying a button switch be sure it is "latching" type and not "momentary". Latching gives you that click that keeps the circuit open or closed. In other words on or off. With a momentary switch you will need to keep your finger on the button to keep the light on. Know what you are buying.
  • Micro LED String: Less than $5 at Amazon. Battery powered 30 LED string 10 feet long. Seems like a good number of lights for any bottle. There are many lengths you can purchase.
  • Styrofoam or Wood Block: Needed the Styrofoam to give support to the cookie tin during drilling. Otherwise the tin would bend and under pressure of the drill press.
  • Spare Wire: 16-18 awg. wire to add pigtails to the button switch.
  • Heat Shrink Wrap: used to protect solder joints on switch
  • Crimp Connectors: Like this style of connector for small low voltage projects
  • Soldering Iron and Solder
  • Hook Loop Tape: aka Velcro used to secure battery pack inside lamp base.

Step 2: Tools

  • Drill or Drill Press: Drill holes in lid to feed LED light string from base and in base for mounting push button.
  • Diamond Grit Hole Saw Set: Used to drill hole in Growler Bottle.
  • Step Drill Bit: Used to drill hole for mounting button switch in cookie tin.Bought my set at Harbor Freight on sale plus a discount coupon for only about $7.
  • Standard Drill Bits
  • Small File
  • Soldering Iron
  • Helping Hands: Handing when soldering
  • Wire Cutters
  • Crimpers
  • Lighter
  • Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks

Step 3: Drill Hole in Growler

Sorry, but I do not have any picts where I actually drilled the hole in the growler as I needed both hands to operate the drill press and keep the Growler in placed. SAFETY FIRST!

This should be your starting point in your project. Because if you mess up this part of the project, your project is scrapped unless you have another growler laying around.

Some important points when drilling glass.

  • Practice on some junk bottles before working on your desired piece of work.
  • Be Safe- wear safety goggles to protect from flying chips of glass
  • Be Safe- wear protective gloves to protect from shards of glass if your bottle cracks or shatters during the drilling process. My first two attempts at drilling glass ended in destroyed bottles.
  • Be Patient- do not force the drill bit. Let the tool do the work.
  • Go Slow- just a reminder of being patient.

Drilling the Growler

The Growler is the fourth piece of glass I have drilled. My first two attempts on other bottles were failures. Couple ideas why I failed. First was probably the area of the bottle where I was drilling. With my first design ideas, I wanted to totally hide the wiring. With that said, I tried to drill through the bottom of bottles to hide wiring once mounted on base. Due to the structure of the glass, this might cause too much stress on the glass causing cracking. Right at the point of drilling through the glass bottles, the entire bottle cracked. Unsure if that is just a bad place to try to drill, or if it was the bits I was using. For my first two failures I was using Carbide Tile and Glass Cutting Drill Bits. The auger style seemed to grab the glass right at the point of making it through the glass and cracking the entire bottle. Perhaps if I was being more patient and moving slower the auger may not have grabbed and cracked the glass. So, I changed to the Diamond Grit Hole Saw AND went through the SIDE of the bottle instead of the bottom. Have been successful ever since changing.

Drill Press

For the longest time I used a hand drill for all my drilling. In the past year with Instructables, I have found myself in need of more precise and controlled drilling. Therefore, I invested in an inexpensive drill press from Harbor Freight. While Harbor Freight does not provide the highest quality tools, I feel a lot of what they offer is great for hobbyists, makers, and tinkerers. I found this drill press on sale for $59.99 and used a 25% off coupon. Great deal that will make your life easier.

Basically I used the same process as this YouTube video for drilling the glass. My press is same size and used the same type of Diamond Grit Hole Saw. The only difference in my process was that I once I started the drilling process, I only added a little water to the drilling area as drilling progressed. I did not use the reservoir as the video shows. Hole was drilled easily in about 2 minutes of slow patient drilling. Use a file to smooth edges of the hole.

Step 4: Drilling the Tin

Be sure to do your drilling before painting. Will make for a much cleaner look in the end result.

Tin Lid

  1. Mark a spot for drilling a 3/16 inch hole that will be used for feeding the LED string from inside to outside of tin and into growler. Center growler on tin and mark drilling spot.
  2. Place a piece of scrap wood under the lid before drilling. This will help prevent bending or creasing the tin lid when apply pressure with drill bit.
  3. Drill it.
  4. There may be some rough edges on the hole. Use a small file to file away any burrs or sharp edges that might later cut your LED string.

Tin Base

  1. Mark a spot for a hole to mount your switch. I used a 3/8 inch standard drill bit but later discovered this was not large enough. I should have used a 1/2 inch.
  2. Before drilling find a block of wood or other scrap as a support for the tin when drilling. I found some Styrofoam that supported the structure of the tin while drilling. This again prevented bending and creasing of the tin base.
  3. After dry fitting my switch I discovered the hole was not large enough to accommodate the threading on the switch.
  4. Use step bit to make hole correct sized for switch.
  5. File down sharp edges of hole.

Step 5: Paint Tin

Before painting keep in mind that the base should be primed. To save that step I used a combination paint/primer to ensure proper adhesion of finish coat.

Always follow the directions of the paint manufacturer.

  1. Find a well ventilated area for painting.
  2. Use drop cloth to prevent over spray.
  3. Apply one thin coat and allow to dry to touch. About 10 minutes for this brand.
  4. Apply another coat to give a good cover. Keep can 6-8 inches away to prevent dripping when applying spray.
  5. Flip lid and tin over for one last coat. Be sure to get all the cracks, crevices, and seams with the last coat.
  6. Let dry 24 hours before handling to install switch and wiring.

Step 6: Add Pigtails to Switch

I like to add pigtail wire leads to switches when working in small confined areas. Makes life a little easier when making connections.

  1. Cut two 4-6 inch pieces of 16-18 awg. wire. This will be fine for low voltage.
  2. Strip both ends of each wire.
  3. Solder one end of each wire to the terminals on the switch.
  4. Use heat shrink around each solder joint to insulate and protect from shorting circuit.

Step 7: Install Switch

  1. Remove nut and washer from switch.
  2. Insert switch and leads into the large hole in base of tin.
  3. Replace nut and washer and tighten with pliers or wire cutters.

Step 8: Switch Connections

Your LED strip has two wires in the circuit. Each coming from the positive (+) and negative (-) of the battery pack. You may be able to separate the two with your fingers or carefully separate with a utility knife. Pull the two apart to give you 2-4 inches to work with.

  1. Cut only one of the wires. It does not matter witch one as you are simply wiring the switch into the circuit.
  2. Strip each cut end to expose wire to be connected to the pigtail ends of the switch. About 1 inch will do just fine.
  3. Twist and connect pigtail and LED wires together.
  4. Use crimp connectors to complete connections.
  5. Connections are complete.
  6. Be sure battery pack is in ON position and test your switch. Lights should go ON.

Step 9: Install Battery Pack

If you have Velcro or any other hook loop fastening tape available, I recommend using it to secure battery pack inside tin.

  1. Apply hook loop tape to back side of battery pack. This will secure pack and prevent broken wire connections when moving your final masterpiece around the house looking for the perfect spot to display it.
  2. Press firmly into bottom of tin base.
  3. Be sure your battery pack is in ON position and test switch again.

Step 10: Install LED Lighting

  1. Feed LED wire through bottom of tin lid. Pull all the wire through until you get to the insulated part of the wire.
  2. Use hot glue to secure the led wire to the lid. This will help protect the wire as well.
  3. Feed LED wire through drilled hole of the bottle up through bottle neck opening.
  4. Feed 60% of wire back into top of bottle.
  5. With 40% of wire hanging out of bottle, hot glue wire to inside of bottle cap.
  6. Feed all wire back into the bottle and test with switch on.
  7. If all went well you can screw the top back onto the bottle.
  8. If light does not illuminate check to be sure your battery pack is in the ON position. Otherwise you may have broken the wire circuit.

I like to glue the wire into the cap of the bottle so that the wire does not fall to the bottom of the bottle. Letting wire LED hang from bottle cap helps illuminate the top of the bottle.

Step 11: Install Growler Onto Base Lid

Once again, with all product follow directions of the manufacturer on label.

  1. Apply a liberal about of silicone glue to bottom edge of growler.
  2. Press firmly into place on lid.
  3. Turn growler a little left and right to seat bottle onto lid.
  4. Check to be sure it is centered.
  5. Test circuit by turning switch on.
  6. Set aside and let silicone dry for at least six hours before handling.

Step 12: Display Your Artwork!

Button switch is hidden in the back. If you desire you can remove bottle/lid and turn the other way to display switch as well.

A very simple way to turn TRASH into TREASURE.

This will not be displayed in our home, but sent back to the original gifter in hopes of receiving a new growler full of a wonderful beverage.


Hope this Instructable was helpful. If you like it, please VOTE!

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