Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Holiday Lanterns

I love the look of large metal lanterns flanking a front door during the holidays and I've been wanting some for our home for a few years. But unfortunately, at a price tag of around $100 a piece, they are way over our budget. Being one who never lets a tight budget hold me back from having the things I love for our home, we put our DIY savvy skills to work and made our own large DIY outdoor lanterns with scrap wood that conveniently turn on and off on timers.

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Holiday Lanterns

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Holiday Lanterns

I love how they look nestled in our planters flanking the front door to welcome guests during the holidays. With the festive holiday ribbon removed, they could be used all winter long.

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Holiday Lanterns Flanking Front Door

These are the supplies we used to make our lanterns.

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Holiday Lantern Supplies
Affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience so you can see what products I used or recommend to make these lanterns. See my disclosure policy.

Supply List

2" x 2" x 8' lumber (salvaged from our DIY Patio Water Wall)
2 fence post caps
trim salvaged from our 80's Wall Unit Hack)
wooden pulls (salvaged from old dresser)
1 piano hinge (leftover from Master Bedroom Built-In Window Seat)
1 sheet of 2' x 4' Acrylic Clear Lighting Panels
2 cans Rust-oleum Hammered Metal Black Spray Paint
2 sets Lighted Outdoor Branches
2 rolls of wired holiday ribbon (salvaged from last year's Christmas Tree)
1 strand of faux pine garland
2 strands of frosted berry garland (with 50% coupon)

Glass panels would have cost approximately $60 and Plexiglass would have cost $80, so we needed a more cost-effective alternative. That's when we found the next best thing at a cost of $7.50. It's called Acrylic Clear Prisma Square Lighting Lens Panels used for overhead fluorescent light fixtures and comes in 2' x 4' sheets with different profiles.


HERE ARE THE STEPS TO BUILDING LARGE SCRAP WOOD HOLIDAY LANTERNS



Step 1 - Dado cuts to accommodate acrylic panels

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Lanterns Dado Cuts On Uprights

  • 2" x 2" lumber cut 24-inches long.
  • 1/2" deep dado cuts to accommodate 6-inches wide acrylic panels.
  • Dados cut 1/2" from the outside edge with a table saw.

Step 2 - Attach the base

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Laterns Base
  • The base is 3/4" plywood cut into an 8-inch square (we made one for the top as well).
  • Uprights attached to the base with wood screws.

Step 3 - Build a decorative top

Large DIY Outdoor Lanterns Scrap Wood Top With Handle

  • Salvaged wood pulls screwed from the bottom onto each post cap.
  • A 7-inch square piece of 3/4" plywood screwed from the bottom onto the post caps.
  • An 8-inch square piece of 3/4" plywood screwed from the bottom onto the 7-inch piece of plywood.
  • Salvaged trim cut at a 45° angle with a miter saw.
  • To allow clearance for the top to open, cut away the bottom half of the trim on the back side only.
  • Trim attached to the 8-inch base using wood glue and 1 1/2" brad nails.
  • Gaps filled with wood filler and sanded smooth once dry.
  • Piano hinge cut with a hacksaw approximately 7-inches long.
  • Drill new holes into the piano hinge to line up with uprights.
  • The piano hinge was attached to the bottom of the lid first and then to the uprights.

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Lanterns Hinged Top

Step 4 - Drill hole for lighted branches

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Holiday Lanterns Base
With a 2-inch hole drill bit, cut a hole in the center of each lantern base to accommodate the lighted branches.

Step 5 - Paint the lanterns

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Lanterns Painted Black
Spray three coats of Rust-oleum Hammered Metal Black spray paint.

Step 6 - Install the lights

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Lanterns Light Installation

Tip for planting and decorating large flower pots and urns

Fill outdoor planters 2/3 full with pea gravel. Use plastic inserts (as pictured above) filled with dirt to set inside outdoor planters. This is very handy if you live in a cold climate like ours where the dirt freezes, making decorating the planters impossible.

The plastic inserts can be brought indoors to decorate in the comfort of your warm home. Inserts also make it convenient to plant flowers in the Spring because you can plant them on a table or potting bench first and simply pop the planted inserts into the flower pots when you're done. Much easier on the back!

Back to the lanterns...
Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Lanterns Concealing Light Cords
Push stems of the lighted trees firmly into the dirt of the insert. Pull the electrical cord underneath the lantern and outside of the plastic insert.

Step 7 - Add Acrylic Panels

I have to apologize for not including photos of this step. I was sure I took some but can't find the files anywhere on my devices.

Use a straight edge and Exacto knife to cut the panels to fit inside the dados (6" x 24") and slide each acrylic panel into the dados.

Step 8 - Secure the lantern to the plastic insert

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Lanterns With Acrylic Light Panels
With #6 3/4" wood screws, secure the base of the lantern under the lip of the plastic insert. Repeat this step on all four corners to firmly secure the lantern so it doesn't topple over during strong winds

Step 9 - Tie festive bows to the handles

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Lanterns With Festive Holiday Ribbon
Tie festive bows onto each handle. I salvaged holiday wired ribbon from our Christmas tree last year that we are no longer using.

I'm all thumbs when it comes to making bows so I use this bow maker tool.

Step 10 - Decorate the base with faux evergreens

Large DIY Outdoor Holiday Lanterns Faux Evergreen Garland

  • Cut a strand of pine garland in half using wire cutters. 
  • Wrap a strand of frosted berry garland onto each half and secure with floral wire. 
  • Insert the lanterns with plastic pot base into large garden pots or urns.
  • Wrap the pine garland around each base and tie two branches together in the back to secure.

Large DIY Outdoor Holiday Lanterns With Festive Holiday Bow

This is what the lanterns look like during the daylight hours. If you look closely in the photo below you can see snowflakes that just started falling as I was taking the pictures.

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Holiday Lanterns In Daylight

What a difference a few hours makes, pictured below are the lanterns at night after a layer of freshly fallen snow.

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Holiday Lanterns At Night

A close up of one lantern during the day.

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Holiday Lantern Flanking Front Door

A close up of the same lantern at night after a snowfall.

Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Holiday Lantern Flanking Front Door At Night

I'm really pleased with how unique our large outdoor scrap wood lanterns look and they've certainly been getting attention in the neighborhood. I'm so happy to finally have large lanterns flanking the front door like the homes I so admire during the holidays. Can't beat the price we paid to make ours compared to those that over our budget in the stores.

Here's another idea for outdoor holiday lighting. We turned metal patio candle holders into Large Lighted Hanging Ornaments for the tree in our front yard.


Large DIY Outdoor Scrap Wood Holiday Lanterns



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