How to Make an Hourglass From Two Lightbulbs




Introduction: How to Make an Hourglass From Two Lightbulbs

In my first Instructable wilI show you how I made a fancy hourglass.
Lightbulbs are becoming cheaper because they are been replaced by cold light lamps and LED´s .
So ,if you you have two fused lightbulbs ,reuse them into.. an hourglass!!!!

Step 1: The Materials

What you will need:

- Two lightbulbs of the same type
- Sand, preferably from the sea shore.
- A screw
- Some wood
- An empty can or any piece of thin metal,alluminun works great.
- Some paint for the base.
- Hidrochloric acid (you can avoid this if your sand is clean)

Step 2: The Tools

Tools you may need:

- A saw
- A pin
- A hammer
- A screwdriver
- Some sandpaper
- A pair of scisssors
- a diamond tool for rototool , one of those use for cutting glass and ceramics.

Step 3: Cutting the Metal Cap

Start cutting the metal screw cap , holding the glass part wrapped in a piece of tissue paper.
Or you can heat it so the cement will decompose and the cap fall off.

Step 4: Cutting the Neck

Now, use the diamond tool to cut the part that holds the filament

Step 5: Preparing the Sand (avoid If You Want)

As you may know, sand consist of silicon oxide, calcium carbonate, and organic matter.
The sand inside the hourglass will pass through a small orifice so it is better if is clean and with homogenous diameter.

Step 6: The Chem Lab!!!

Rinse with water three times the sand you want to use, removing all the floating stuff.

Decomposing the shell is a quite safe process that only produces bubbling CO2 but the foam can overflow.

Once the bubbling ends , rinse and clean with water until all the mud is out.

Step 7: The Base

I cut a wood rectangle and partially emptied the bottom.
The passing hole is for holding the arm.
Then I fill it with melted lead. (again be careful because it is HOT¡)

Step 8: The Collar and the Sand

With a pin pierce the center of the metal disc. Not too small so the sand can´t pass, not too big so ... you run out of time!

Fill the bulb with the dry and clean sand

Place the disc over the hole and fix it with a bit of glue.

Now you can put it inside an oven to remove all partial humidity it can remind if you work in an humid area as I do.


Glue with with epoxi.

When dry , wrap some cotton thread or fabric., so it will look nice.

Step 9: Final Step

Mount every thing.

That´s it !

Questions and suggestions are welcome.



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    17 Discussions

    Is there anything else we can use instead of the diamond tool? Because I don't have it at home and I doubt my school has it... I'm making it for a school project.
    Thank you a lot for posting this tutorial, totally awesome. :D

    2 replies

    The diamond disc is the best option and you can buy really cheap on ebay. As a substitute you may try a metal saw holding the glass bulb with a rag and try not to hold it to tight. the saw should move really close to the place where the glass is melt. Light bulbs are made by joining two parts of glass one the has the bell shape and the second which holds the filament. I don´t recommend you to use a hot wire technique since it is really esay to have a crack during the procedure.
    Maybe, and only maybe, after marking with the metal saw all the circumference where you want to have the cut , you can try to heat up that contour with an alcohol flame and let it cool down at room temperature. Some time that makes a quasi perfect crack, but I moved to the diamond disc because of the better results. Good luck¡¡¡

    Alright, I'll see what my school have and I'll try your tips! :)
    Thanks a lot!

    I want to thank you so much for making this instructable. it served as a perfect inspiration for my hourglass. you can see it is massively different, but yours gave me so many ideas about how to do it along with the incentive to start it. so thank you.

    4 replies

    I cut a small disc of metal and I punch a hole in the middle. You may use a sheet from a soda can or plastic, which is easier to handle and punch. I used aluminium because I could later file the small deformation on the hole and flatter it. The sand flow is directly proportional to the pin diameter you use to make the hole, so I recomend you a really thin pin to get longer displays.

    I basically stole the idea from this instructable, but instead i superglued a small sheet of aluminum from a can (with the small hole) between two washers. I then used superglue to secure it to one of the bulbs, filled the others, used duct tape hold it together, and tested.

    It is a great idea, I wonder how to "keep it open" so we can tune the amount of time with the sand.

    1 reply

    i solved that problem while making mine. what i did was use two regular bulbs (sixty watts, dollars store for 25 cents) then i hollowed it out while leaving the metal part attached. i used two small washers with a piece of aluminum between them. then i superglued it to one of the bulbs. put sand in the other one and then use the almighty duct tape to temporarily hold them together. then stopwatch, untape, add/remove sand. repeat as necessary.

    wow, this seems to be a eco friendly idea as well as an item that looks cool, and would be fun to build. butters8754

    I often dont rate these projects,but this one is worthy.

    Great idea, I will try. Most likely. If I have the time. AWESOME JOB!

    Nice idea! The treatment with hydrochloric acid isn't really necessary. That essentially removes the calcium carbonate sand particles (originating from weathered coral or shell fragments), leaving just the quartz-based sand particles. You may be better off passing the sand through a sieve to get uniformely fine particles, then treating it with bleach or peroxide for color (and to disinfect). The lead base is a cute trick - I wouldn't have thought of pouring lead directly into a hollowed out wooden base. (Then again, it's been a while since I've poured lead - which may be why I still seem to have most of my neurons...) Does anyone have a better idea for the neck between the two bulbs?