DIY Mason Jar Pendant Lights
On a recent trip to our local big-box home improvement store, my husband and I spotted a really cool hanging light fixture designed to look like hanging mason jars. It. Was. Awesome. We both agreed it would be a cool replacement for our current ugly, cheap, outdated fluorescent fixture in the kitchen.
Then we saw the price. $200!!!? Not. So. Awesome.
Not to be deterred, my ever-creative husband announced, "Shoot, we could make that ourselves EASY."
"Easy" is all relative, of course, but it seemed like a fun adventure, so off we went to scour the store for materials. In the end, we created an original, economical lighting arrangement for our kitchen. Total price? $70 and some change (this includes paint, lightbulbs, etc.). This is totally spurring on the creative, on-a-budget remodel of our kitchen we have been brainstorming...
(Note: these instructions are for a complete chandelier. If you just want to create individual pendant lights, you will only need the tools, jars, paint, lamp cord, and light components as listed below.)
- Quart-sized mason jars (in whatever quantity you desire, we chose 6)
- 1 re-purposed cookie sheet or cake pan. We used a 17"x11" cookie sheet. It's important that whatever you use is at least an inch deep.
- A piece of 1"x2" wood
- Metallic spray paint (we used Rust-Oleum "Oil-Rubbed Bronze")
- 25 feet of lamp cord (any color, it gets painted too)
- Wire nuts
- 2 acorn nuts and 2 corresponding hanger bolts (these are to secure the base to the ceiling)
- A drill and varying-sized drill bits, OR a step drill bit
- A rounded metal file (helpful for smoothing rough edges on the pan after drilling)
- Wood clamps (not mandatory, but helpful)
(The following items you'll need in the same quantity as the number of jar lights you're going with.)
- Threaded pipe nipples (we found these in the lighting section)
- Brass nuts to match the pipe nipples
- 2" washers with 1/2" center
- Brad hole T-nuts 3/8-16 x 7/16"
- Light sockets (we used white porcelain "one-leg hickey screw terminals")
- Clear incandescent bulbs (or halogen, if you are anti-incandescents). Be careful they are not too large to fit through the mouths of your jars! The vintage-style bulbs would look really cool with this design, but at $6-$7 per bulb, we opted for economical.
Here comes the fun part!
1. Place your 2" washer on the top of the mason jar lid and trace the hole in the center on the lid. This is 1/2"- the size of the hole you will drill in your lid. We had to start with a small drill bit and work our way up to the final size. A step drill bit would be easier, but it's not absolutely necessary.
2. Assemble the pieces shown above- the threaded pipe nipple goes through the hole, the 2" washer goes inside the lid, the brass nut on the outside of the lid and the light socket screws on the bottom of the pipe nipple inside the lid.
3. It's that simple! Screw in your lightbulb and attach the lid to the jar.
The Base: (Again, if you chose to just make individual pendants, you can skip this section completely.)
1. Measure out a wood frame and crossbar that will fit inside your metal pan. For our 17"x11" cookie pan the measurements were 16 5/8" lengths and 6 1/2" cross pieces.
2. Assemble your wood frame. This is where pocket screws using a Kreg Jig comes in handy, but it's not required.
3. Decide where you want your holes for the wires the lights are going to hang from. We spaced ours out evenly along the length-wise pieces of wood.
4. Measure on the wood where your holes are going to be. Transfer these measurements to the outside (bottom) of the pan.
5. Drill your holes in the pan for the wires! A step drill bit would work best, but we didn't have one, so we started with pilot holes and increased the size of our drill bit step by step until we reached 7/16", the final size of our opening for the wires.
6.Make a couple of holes in the pan for the ceiling mounting screws. How you do this step will depend on the orientation of where you are mounting your light. We chose the stud that was closest to where the existing wires exited the ceiling, which meant our holes had to line up width-wise on the pan (or the pan would not have hung on the ceiling in the direction we wanted it to).
7. Put your wood frame inside the pan and clamp it (or very carefully hold it) in place so that you can accurately mark the holes on the wood through the holes in the pan (here you see that we did it after drilling our pilot holes in the pan).
8. Use a rounded metal file to remove any rough edges around the final 7/16" holes in the pan.
9. Poke your brad hole T-nuts through the back side of each hole in the metal pan. (Optionally, you can secure these with an adhesive, like silicone or painter's caulk, to hold them in place for the final assembly. Otherwise they keep falling out until you have the other components in place.)
10. Drill your corresponding holes that you marked in the wood frame (again, these should be 7/16", like the holes in the pan).
11. Voila! You have all your components for the base.
1. Spray paint your base, lid components, and power cord and allow to dry. A really important step we missed, and discovered the hard way, is that the pan should be sanded lightly with 400-800 grit sandpaper- or steel wool- before painting. Otherwise, your paint will flake back off easily, causing a lot of unnecessary cursing and repainting.
2. Decide how long you want your cords to be and cut them accordingly. This will depend on several factors. We wanted our lights to be staggered heights, so some cords had to be longer than others. We had a really high ceiling, and we made the lowest one be well above tall-person and random-flailing-objects height. If your ceiling is shorter, your people taller, or your random-flailing-objects possibility higher (like when I'm in the kitchen cooking)... you may want to make your cords fairly short.
3. Begin your cord assembly. (Please note, we are not licensed electricians. If you aren't comfortable with this, get some help.) We had 6 lights, so we grouped our wires in sets of three. The terminal wire from each group then came together to make the final wiring attachment at the ceiling, with a negative and positive grouping.
4. Attach your base to the ceiling. We drilled the hanger bolts into the stud and secured the pan over the hanger bolts through the mounting holes with the acorn nuts; the terminal wires were connected with wire nuts to the existing wires coming from the ceiling.
5. Begin attaching your lights! Here you can see we first slid our mason jar lids to the appropriate levels on the cords; we then cut the cords and attached them to the sockets at varying heights. When the jar is attached, you have your light globe and you're ALL DONE! :)
The Finished Product:
Our lights have been up for a couple of months now and we find they work great and add some character to the room. We're even tempted to duplicate the process to make hanging pendant lights to replace the can lights in our living room. There are endless possibilities!