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DIY Wooden Lanterns

Decorated for Christmas

diy wooden lantern

I decided to build these DIY wooden lanterns after my Mom sent me a picture of a pre-lit holiday lantern that was $70!  I wanted four of them and there was no way I was going to convince myself to spend almost $300 for lanterns I could only use during the holiday season. 

Instead, my Mom and I headed to the scrap wood piles!  I made my lanterns out of some left over 2″ x 2″ furring boards, some 3/4 inch scrap pine boards, and a small section of left over fence that I ripped down!  

These lanterns aren’t just large, they are extra large!  These lanterns are 27 inches tall.  

DIY Wooden Lantern Materials

Tools

  • Table Saw
  • Drill
  • Nail Gun

Materials

  • 1- 8 foot 2″x2″ furring board 
  • 1- 2’x2′ sheet of 3/4″ Sanded Plywood
  • 1 – 8 foot 1″x2″ furring board
  • 8 – 1 5/8″ exterior screws
  • 8″ 3/8″ screw eye bolt with two nuts
  • Assorted nail gun nails

Step One: Make your Cuts

diy wooden lantern

I used a table saw to make all of my cuts for this project.  This is a cut list for one lantern.

  • 4 – 2 x 2’s at 23″
  • 2 – 3/4″ plywood squares at 9″ x 9″
  • 1 – 3/4″ plywood squares at 7″ x 7″
  • 1 – 3/4″ plywood squares at 5″ x 5″
  • 4 – 1″ x 2″ ‘s at 9″
  • 4 – 1″ x 2″ ‘s at 10″
  • 2 – 1″ x 2″ ‘s at 3″
  • 1 – 1″ x 2″ ‘s at 2 1/2″

Step Two: Attach 9"X9" Base to the for 2"x2"s

Using a drill and drill bit pre drill your four holes in each corner of the 9″x9″ base board.  Then using 1 5/8″ exterior screws, screw through a pre-drilled hole in the 9″ x 9″ base and into the end of one 2″ x 2″.  Repeat for the other three corners.

diy wooden lantern

Step Three: Attach 9" x 9" Top

diy wooden lantern

Using the method as you did to attach the base board – pre-drill four holes into each corner of the 9″ x 9″ top square.  Then using the 1 5/8″ exterior screws screw through the holes and into the other end of the 2″ x 2″ boards.

This will form the main structure of your lantern with both a base and a top! 

Step Four: Attach the 7" x 7" Square

Now you will start to make it look like a lantern! 

Start by placing the 7″ x 7″ square in the center of the 9″ x 9″.  Using a nail gun with 1 1/4″ nails, nail the 7″ x 7″ square on.  

Step Five: Attach the 5" x 5" square

diy wooden lantern

On top of the 7″ x 7″ square, place the 5″ x 5″ square in the center.  Again, using a nail gun with 1 1/4″ nails, nail the 5″ x 5″ square into the 7″ x 7″ square. 

Step Six: Attach Trim Boards

Start by attaching the 9″ 1″x2″ trim boards on opposite sides at the top and the bottom.

Then attach the 10″ 1″x2″ trim boards on opposite sides, covering the ends of the 9″ trim boards.

diy wooden lantern

Step Seven: Drill a Hole for the Screw Eye

diy wooden lantern

Using a 3/8″ drill bit drill through the center of the 3 square layers; through the 5″x5″ square, the 7″x7″ square, and the 9″x9″ square, so that you have a hole all the way through. 

Step Eight: Build Lantern Top

To create the lantern top nail together the small cut 1″x2″.  Set the 2 1/2″ pieces on the inside of the 3″ pieces to create a square.  

Step Nine: Attach Small Top to Lantern

diy wooden lantern

To attach the small lantern top to onto the 5″x5″ square I used 1 1/4″ nails with my nail gun.  I shot the nails in on an angle.  You could also use a wood glue to hold this in place, but nailing worked well for me! 

The first lantern I built I did step 10, then step 9.  I found after that it was best to attach the top then attach the screw eye.  

Step Ten: Attach the Screw Eye

I used at 3/8″ x 8″ Screw Eye Bolt with 2 nuts.  I placed the first nut at the top of the threads and then screwed the bolt through the drilled hole.  Once all the way through, I then attached the second bolt from underneath the 9″x9″ square. 

diy wooden lantern

Step Eleven: Finish the Lantern

diy wooden lantern
diy wooden lantern

Finishing your lanterns is of course option, you may be very happy with how they look unfinished!  But if you are going to use your lanterns outdoors I would highly recommend applying at least a top coat finish to seal the wood.  This will ensure your lanterns survive the outdoor elements. 

I finished my lanterns with a combination of stain and then applied a waterproofing wood finish.

The stain combo I did was to first apply  Weathered Oak stain (this is a gray color stain)  then without wiping and while the gray was still wet I immediately applied  Jacobean stain.  By combining these two stains I was able to achieve that worn barn wood look that I wanted.

Once fully dried, I then applied the a waterproofing wood finish finish to coat and seal my lanterns.

Step Twelve: Decorate your Lanterns

The best part about these lanterns is that they will be used differently for several different seasons!  But for now, the main reason I built these were to create Outdoor Holiday Lanterns.  So, I decorated my lanterns by cutting some inexpensive strands of flocked garland, added some red berries, and then placed some battery powered candles.  

DIY Wooden Lantern

I absolutely love how these turned out!!  While I built mine from some scrap boards that were around the house, even if I had to purchase wood to build these the total cost for each one (without decorations) would be $20.42!! Compare that to the $70 lantern I loved that could only be used for the Holiday season and you simply can’t beat it! 

Loved making your DIY Wooden Lantern?  Check out all of our Holiday DIYs here

diy wooden lanterns
diy wooden lantern
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Links

diy wooden lantern

DIY Large Wooden Lantern

Wooden Lanterns decorated for Christmas.
Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Build Time 1 hr
Dry Time 2 d

Equipment

  • Table Saw
  • Drill
  • Nail Gun
  • Staple Gun

materials
  

  • 1 8ft. 2" x 2" Furring Strip
  • 1 8 ft. 1" x 2" Furring Board
  • 1 2'x2' sheet 3/4" Sanded Plywood
  • 8 1 5/8" exterior screws
  • 1 8" - 3/8" screw eye bolt
  • 2 3/8"-16 Zinc Plated Hex Nut
  • Assorted nail gun nails

Instructions
 

  • Make you cuts.
  •  Attach 9x9 base to 2x2 furring strips
  • Attach 9x9 top
  • Attach 7x7 square
  • Attach 5x5 square
  • Attach trim boards
  • Drill a hole for the screw eye
  • Build lantern top
  • Attach small lantern top
  • Attach screw eye
  • Finish the lantern
  • Decorate your lantern 
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