Steel and Glass Lantern

Like most projects begin, I thought this was a quick and dirty one. At least one of those statements was true. In the end I had learned new things as usual. Things I was sure was the simple part were among the harder ones and vice versa. So how did I make it? Well…

Starting with a quick sketch and following with a look around the garage what I could gather in materials, I found some square tubing for the frame, but no suitable glass.

Cutting Metal

I figured ordering the glass panes was the first step since it’s much easier to adjust the frame than the glass. Once I got the glass from the local glazier I began cutting the tubing.

I did borrow a bandsaw which made things much easier. Might put it up on my wishlist.

Welding the Frame

Welding the frame together was a straightforward task. I’m always surprised how much the weld shrinks and distorts the frame, but I’m learning to adjust for that. A welding table would be nice but I’m not sure I weld enough to sacrifice both the space as well as money for it. For the simple projects so far I’m surviving without one.

Feet and Chimney

Being a lantern for the outdoors I chose rubber feet with a M10 thread. These were pretty sturdy and easy to adjust. I welded bolts into the tubing with the aid of a magnet.

I figured I needed a chimney, but now afterwards I’m not so sure. I wish I had gone without it since it ruined some of the aesthetics and added a few problems.

If there will ever be a V2 I will skip this…

The chimney was made out of a universal exhaust pipe from the local auto parts shop. It was also galvanized so I had to take some precautions when welding.

The Bottom

The bottom was made out of a scrap piece of form plywood I had laying around. I painted it black to blend in with the rest of the parts.

To raise the tea candles off the bottom I cut up threaded rods in three different lengths to create a “pyramid” shape.

Instead of painting the threaded rods I found I had some electrical tubing left and it fit perfectly over the rods. For the candles holders I 3d printed a “foot” that threaded onto the threaded rod and had a small neodymium magnet in the top.

Yes, the casing of the tea candles are made of aluminium and therefore not magnetic but the little plate that the wick is secured in is made of steel.

Attaching the Glass

After I wiped the frame clean with alcohol the frame was painted black using what we call “Hammarlack” here in Sweden, since it’s not that fussy about prepping the surface.

After the paint got to fully dry for a few days I used black window sealant to attach the glass inside the frame. Two wood sticks under the glass pane got them the right recess in the frame.


The door is made of the same square tubing as the rest of the frame and attached to the frame by weld on hinges. This the first time using weld on hinges and they became a instant favourite. I used a 3d printed handle with a integrated neodymium magnet as a latch.

Final Assembly

After that I hung the door on the hinges and put in the bottom. It is loose to make it easier to clean it. I put in some rocks for decoration and weight, although I doubt anything will blow this thing over.

25 tea candles gives of a pretty good light!

Closing Notes

This was one of those projects that I immediately wanted to make over when finished and make it cleaner. I think the gap around the door would be plenty enough for oxygen intake and heat exhaust.

I would also like to experiment some with a half-mirrored glass, I get some of the infinity reflections now but maybe using a silver window tinted film on the glass would work. And a thinner frame.
Well, we’ll see about that…

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