Intro: Pumpcans (Pop Can Jack-O-Lanterns)
A few weeks ago, looking for something to do, I sat down with one of my friends and my younger brother and constructed some Pop Can Crabs. While sitting there, it occurred to me that with Halloween coming up, the pop cans could have some other novel uses. With this in mind the pumpcan was born!
Step 1: Materials
- Empty pop cans (1 per pumpcan)
- Exacto knife
- Needle nose pliers
- Tea candles (1 for each pumpcan)
- Matches or other firestarter
- Dremel tool
- Stencil or other pattern
- Thin sharpie marker
- Spray paint
Before moving on, an important note needs to be made about safety. The edges of aluminum cans can be rather sharp, so be very careful when working with them, and use a pair of gloves if you have any doubts. If you choose to work with a dremel tool, safety glasses are strongly recommended in addition to a dust mask to protect yourself from inhaling aluminum dust (I suspect it's not particularly good for you), and possibly hearing protection, if you're bothered by loud noises. Finally, please use proper safety when dealing with matches and open flames. I will not be held responsible for any mishaps or accidents that might occur while attempting this project.
Anyhow, now that we have that out of the way, let's move on to the project itself.
Step 2: Pumpcan Construction
- Wash out the pop can before you start using it.
- To allow for easy candle and firestarter access, either cut off the top of your can or create a latchable door on the backside of the pumpcan.
- The thin aluminum of popcans is particularly hard to work with, especially without a dremel tool. As such, you may want to limit the complexity of your designs to save yourself future frustrations. Any thin parts and round shapes are somewhat difficult to create in aluminum. Keep this in mind when designing your can.
- When designing a can with a particular pattern, it may be desirable to use a pattern or stencil. For this, print out an appropriately-sized image from the internet, carefully cut away areas with an exacto knife, then transfer the stencil to the can using the sharpie marker. A stencil example (that didn't ultimately work, unfortunately) is shown below.
- When making cuts, use the pliers to help provide support to the thin walls of the pop cans.
Step 3: Light It Up!
When your pumpcan is finished, it's time to show off your work. For this you will want to insert a tea candle. It should be noted at this point that the bottoms of the pop can are not flat. I didn't think it was a problem if the candle didn't sit centered. However, you might consider cutting off the bottom of the popcan and simply having the can surround the candle. Aluminum is a good conductor of heat, however, so when you light these, it is recommended that you keep them somewhere where they won't be touched or start a fire. Also, you may want to let them rest awhile after you put them out, to let them cool down.
Pumpcans can be a fun alternative to the conventional pumpkin. They're reusable, very cheap, and don't leave a mess. I hope you enjoyed this instructable, and if you do make a pumpcan, share your experiences below.