Introduction: POP TAB TABLE LAMP

The average person produces 4.3 pounds of waste per day. This is such a large amount that is steadily rising each year. It is important as inhabitants of this planet that we reduce our environmental footprint by recycling and reducing waste in as many ways possible. So what is a common item in most households? Cans.

Whether they are soda, beer, fruit, beans or soups- cans are likely found in most households. In America, over 100,000 aluminum cans are recycled each minute. Instead of just dropping those cans in the trash, wouldn't it be useful to reuse them, and then recycle the left over parts? Well now you can by up-cycling the little tabs on top of the can. By collecting the little tabs not only are you doing the environment a favor, but you're also getting something for yourself too!

In order to make this lamp yourself you will need the following materials! (Keep in mind that your final design: shape, size etc. is up to you!)


Soda Tabs-Anywhere from 500 to 1000 is a fair estimate of how many tabs you will need.

Pliers-Regular, Needle Nose, Cutting and Electronic!

Hot Glue Gun with Glue Sticks

Thick Wire


Light Bulb



Electrical Tape, and Aluminum Tape

Most of these things you might have around the house already,(i.e pliers, pop tabs, scissors etc.) and others you might have to buy, but it is possible to salvage every material here!

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Step 1: Wiring Your Lamp

In order to wire your lamp you need 3 things: a socket, the wire and a light bulb. For this project I used a bulb that was not energy efficient and produced a lower light. This is essential in order to have patterns reflected when the light is turned on.

For this step you need:

Electrical or cutting pliers, electrical tape and an x-acto knife.

First using the cord coming from the socket,separate the wires down the seam and pull apart. Next cut into these individual halves and expose the wire.

Now twist the wire tightly on both sides. These wires cannot touch one another. When this is completed bend the wire and create little hooks. Repeat this for the cord attached to the plug. Once this is complete, attach the hooks and twist them tightly together again making sure that the two sides do not touch. Next wrap the two halves individually in electrical tape. Once you are sure that this has been done correctly you may move on and test the lamp by sitting it on the floor or table. Make sure the bulb is screwed in and plug it in!

Step 2: Structure!

Using your cutting pliers cut off a considerable amount of wire. Then begin to make a basic frame of the design you would like. Once this is accomplished, wrap it entirely in the aluminium tape. This step is optional but I find that it makes it easier to attach the tabs!

Step 3: Attaching the First Row of Tabs

First remove the tab from the cans by bending it back and forth until the metal fatigues and breaks; remove the tiny metal ring in the tab as well. Collect as many of these as possible since it is better to have more than necessary with in case of human error when bending and cutting. Next, grab the tab vertically and with a pair of pliers, use your thumb to bend it in half. Set the tab on the top of the wire, aligning the hoop with the bend. Pinch it with your fingers to flatten it to about 90 degrees. Check to see that the bent tab is secured to the hoop and will not come off, alternatively, use needle head pliers to secure them.

Step 4: Connecting Tabs

Once you've completed your first row you're ready to start connecting tabs. Pick up a tab and decide to bend it or not; the angle is determined by you! Personally bent the tabs at a small degree and also alternated with not bending the tabs to create my shape. The important step added here is that you will cut the top ring on the tabs and pull them apart slightly to create hooks. (I did the connection tab on a piece of wire that was off of my frame but this is not what you're supposed to do. Use the frame wire instead.)These hooks will go inside the first opening on each tab in order to create a chain effect. Hot glue the separation between the tabs to ensure that they won't fall off(optional)

Step 5: Repeat Step 4 Over and Over Again.

Create Step 4 Over and Over again until you're almost done with your design!! However leave an opening in the back to slide you cord through and sit your light inside.

Step 6: Create a Bottom and a Base for the Socket

Creating the bottom is actually one of the easiest parts of this project. Pick up pop tabs and hot glue them to make a flat surface! The design of the base for the socket might depend on your lamp shape. I picked a basic box that was composed of glued together tabs, that I then glued onto the bottom. Then use a tiny amount of hot glue to secure your socket to the base. Now, you can also close the opening you had made for the cord now that it is inside.

Step 7: Plug It In!

Here you can do some minimal clean up such as removing hot glue strands or adding a few rows of tabs you didn't plan for. When you're all set, plug it in, turn off any other lights and enjoy the beautiful patterns! I found that the best projected light came from led lights similar to those in smart phone cameras, but a low powered bulb gives off a different but also very interesting effect as well!

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    3 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Completely awesome!! Looks really cool

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    Wow. This looks pretty labor intensive but the end effect is amazing. That looks great. A+

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    Wow. This looks pretty labor intensive but the end effect is amazing. That looks great. A+