diy scrap wood lantern
DIY, Entertaining, Home Decor

How To Make A DIY Scrap Wood Lantern

Spending more time on your back deck? Spruce it up with this easy, budget-friendly DIY scrap wood lantern!

In an effort to clean up our garage, I’ve been looking for useful and decorative ideas to turn my scrap wood into some fun DIY projects. Now that warmer weather is here, I decided on a project that would meet the needs of more time spent outside: a DIY scrap wood lantern! Our family loves to sit outside at night, but we try not to use a ton of artificial light so we don’t attract bugs. After doing some online searches, I found my source of inspiration (see below), but — of course —knew that I could make one for much cheaper than a $200 price tag!

Wood lantern with candles as an inspiration for the current project.
A great inspiration with a large price tag.

What You’ll Need

I already had them on hand, but if you don’t, they’re not expensive: These flameless and waterproof outdoor candles will serve as the centerpiece for your DIY scrap wood lantern.

Source: Amazon

Tip: they’ll also help you determine how high and how large you want the overall piece to be. While I wanted the lantern to add a decorative and functional element, I didn’t want the piece to overwhelm and take over the table either.

Even though I used scrap wood for this project, you can also purchase whatever materials you may want or need. For example, you can use decorative stone pebbles and faux succulent accents for a more lush look. Don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun!

Square dowel pieces cut in various lengths next to a larger full size board all will be used for the scrap wood DIY outdoor lantern.
All the wood pieces you’ll need for the scrap wood DIY outdoor lantern project.
  • (1) 1″x 8”x13” board
  • (4) 1” square dowels cut 7 1/2” long
  • (2) 1” square dowels cut 11 1/2” long
  • (2) 1” square dowels cut 6” long
  • 220 grit sand paper
  • Black indoor/ outdoor spray paint
  • Instant Wood Glue
  • Brad nailer (to make it more secure) with 1 1/4” nails

Let’s Get to It!

Step 1 — Cut the 1” x 8” board to 13”. This will serve as your base.

Measuring an 8 inch wide board to be cut on larger sliding miter saw.

Step 2 — Cut your 1” square dowels to the lengths mentioned above.

Square wood dowel being measured on a sliding miter saw.
Square dowels make up the sides of the scrap wood DIY lantern.

Step 3 — Give all the wood pieces a light sanding. 

Hand holding sanding block on piece of wood.
Lightly sand each piece with 220 grit sand paper to take off any sharp edges.

Step 4 — Spray paint all the pieces and lay them out to dry.

Spray trigger attached to spray paint can pointed at raw wood to be painted.
My favorite spray trigger makes it easier to control the spray of the spray paint for more even coats.
Wood pieces painted black laying on drop cloth drying.
Choose an outdoor color that compliments your outdoor decor.

Step 5 — Secure the pieces together in a long, rectangular shape. Using the instant wood glue helps to secure the pieces and give you a second set of hands. I started with the upright corner pieces, next added the longer side pieces, then finished with the smaller side pieces. I used the brad nailer to add an extra bit of support and rigidity.

lime green nail gun pressed against the scrap wood lantern.
After using instant wood glue to hold the pieces together, use a nail gun for additional rigidness.

 Step 6 — Style and enjoy!

Black scrap wood DIY lantern on top of brown table with 5 varying heights outdoor candles. Behind table is khaki outdoor couch with coordinating outdoor pillows that have a mandala look and varying colors of black, off white, blue, and rust.
The finished scrap wood DIY outdoor lantern is the perfect touch to the outdoor table.

There are several different styles of scrap wood DIY lanterns out there you can make, but this one was my personal favorite.

Side view of the scrap wood DIY outdoor lantern to show that you can see the candles from all angles. Sitting on brown outdoor table next to outdoor couch and chair with khaki pillows.
No matter where you sit, everyone has a great view of the light coming from the scrap wood DIY outdoor lantern.

I really loved the idea that this DIY scrap wood lantern could not only be used outdoors, but also inside on my dining table. It can also serve as table decor for a wedding reception, a baby shower, anniversary party, or any other kind of get together you like! And the best part? Other than being simple to make, they’re budget-friendly; if I didn’t already have some of the materials on hand, the total cost for the project still would have been FAR less than the original $200 price tag! 

Scrap wood DIY outdoor lantern with 5 varying heights outdoor candles lit at night.
The scrap wood DIY outdoor lantern adds a decorative touch and great lighting for your night time outdoor gatherings.

I hope you have fun making this DIY scrap wood lantern! For more DIY content and helpful tips, explore the blog, or drop a comment for a DIY tutorial you’d love to see.

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Brooke has a lifestyle blog called Cribbs Style and currently lives in Charleston, SC. This wife, mom of two almost tweens, and mom of three fur children enjoys all things DIY and organizing. When she’s not helping others tackle the chaos of life, she’s either working out, at the beach, or just enjoying time with family and friends.

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