Project tutorial

DIY Solar Lantern

$12 and up
Project cost
1 hour
Estimated time

A solar lantern is the perfect way to add a little ambiance without the hassle of expensive hard-wired lighting. And to give it a finish that’s easy to apply, and will withstand the elements outdoors, I’m teaming up with our friends at Varathane. They make a fast-drying stain that saves me time, and a water-based spar urethane that seals out water. For this project I also grabbed some scrap 1x boards and picked up square dowels, wire hardware cloth, and a solar light bulb.

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Download Plans
Step 1

Cut the Parts

Download our cut list above. Using a miter saw, cut the parts. To cut the dowels, set the saw to 2.5-degrees. To make the dowels splay outward in both directions, tip the dowel on edge during the cut as shown.

Step 2

Drill the Top Hole

Drill a hole in the center of lantern top for the solar light bulb.

Step 3

Assemble the Parts

Assemble the parts by drilling pilot holes through the top and bottom boards and into the square dowels. Secure the pieces with wood glue and screws.

Step 4

Size the Hardware Cloth

Trace the inside opening of the assembled frame onto the hardware cloth.

Step 5

Cut the Hardware Cloth

Cut three panels from the hardware cloth.

Step 6

Apply the Stain

Sand the parts, and then wipe away any dust with a lint-free cloth. Using a lint-free cloth, wipe on a coat of stain in the direction on the grain. I’m using a Varathane color called Weathered Gray. Let the stain set for two to three minutes. Wipe away the excess stain with a lint-free cloth, and let dry for at least an hour.

Step 7

Apply the Topcoat

Brush on a coat of Spar Urethane with a synthetic bristle brush. Let dry for an hour.

Step 8

Coat the Hardware Cloth

Lastly, spray the hardware cloth with two coats of flat black spray paint.

Step 9

Attach the hardware Cloth

Staple the hardware cloth panels to the filler strips.

Step 10

Secure the Side Panels

Secure the assembled hardware cloth and filler strips inside the lantern frame with nails.

Step 11

Install the Light Bulb

Secure the solar light bulb with glue.

Jenn Largesse
Jenn Largesse is the editor and creator of House One. As the daughter of a carpenter and an english teacher, she has been honing her love for woodworking and writing her entire life. After nearly a decade as a writer and producer for This Old House, she bought her first home in rural New England and launched her blog, Build Basic.

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