Tin Punch Lantern

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Here's a simple way to turn old coffee or vegetable cans into lovely garden lanterns.


  • tin can
  • white paper
  • colored marker
  • Advertisement

  • masking tape
  • paper clips
  • hammer
  • large nail
  • paint, optional
  • tea lights or candles
  • wire for hanging


  1. Clean out and remove the labels from any sized tin can-opened on one end. If necessary, pound down any sharp edges with a hammer, then dry the can thoroughly.
  2. Cut a piece of white paper big enough to fit around the can, cutting off any excess. This paper will serve as your design template.
  3. After cutting the paper to the correct size, remove it from the can and with a colored marker, trace or draw a simple design using a series of small dots (about the size of a nail head). These dots represent the spots you'll be punching with a hammer and nail. Leave at least a 1/2 inch border around the top of the can so you punch out holes for hanging.
  4. Tin Candle Holder Step 1


  5. Fill the can up to the top with water and let it freeze over night. This will prevent the can from bending and denting while you punch holes into it and give you a hard surface to work on.
  6. Remove the can from the freezer and reattach your template with masking tape. If necessary, secure the template with paper clips along the rim of the can.
  7. With a hammer and large-sized nail, pound holes into the can following the pattern of your design. Make an X with masking tape across the open end of the can to make it easy to mark where to punch holes for hanging.
  8. Tin Candle Holder Step 2

  9. Decorate the outside of the can with paint as desired. Add small candles or tea lights and use wire or a metal clothes hanger for hanging.
  10. Tin Candle Holder Step 3


A Note of Caution: Make sure you keep your candles small and your hangers long enough to avoid fire. Never leave a candle burning unattended. Tin Candle Holder Step 4


Tin can lantern illuminated with a candle.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.

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By Chevy (Guest Post)
July 13, 20050 found this helpful

This is a really neat idea! I havebeen wondering what to do with those coffee cans and this is perfect. Thanks so much for sharing your idea with us.



By (Guest Post)
July 13, 20050 found this helpful

My daughter just cleaned out the recycle bin....I'll have to retrieve those cans I threw in there now! I think its a great idea. I might try citronella candles in mine so they work double duty!! Thanks for the great idea!

July 13, 20050 found this helpful

Wonderful ideas for Christmas and Birthdays. Can't wait to try it. Yours are so awesome.

July 23, 20050 found this helpful

I love this idea...but I want to modify it by using small cans which I will attach a string of Christmas tree lights to and hang up along the perimeter of my patio. Each bulb will have a can attached to it!


These can lights would alos be great as luminaries at Christmas along a walkway or driveway!

Thanks for the great ideas!

By Alyssa. (Guest Post)
October 14, 20070 found this helpful

I did what you said but be4 when i didnt use the paper bag the paint kept peeling off.. Thanks For The Advice..


September 4, 20110 found this helpful

Beautiful, really love this. I love the idea of doing smaller cans and use it for Christmas lights!

October 5, 20110 found this helpful

What do you mean about using a paper bag? I was curious how paint would stick to the can. I suggested to my husband to do this with the cub scouts.


What a great way for them to make Christmas gifts for their parents or for the senior center.

July 22, 20120 found this helpful

Very nice design! Great job! : D


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