How to Make a Decorative Tea Light Holder from a Tin Can

Give your free time creative purpose

This tin can tea light holder is one of the best tin can transformations on the internet!

See for yourself… it’s almost impossible to tell the tea light holder below started life as a tin can.

Luckily, it’s also moderately easy to make… so go on, eat a tin of baked beans for lunch… then follow the instructions below…

Tin can lantern made from a tin can
Who said baked beans and a naked flame don’t mix…

What will I learn?

1) Finding new uses for objects, especially those destined for the trash, is a really rewarding creative challenge.

2) Tin cans are a valuable FREE craft resource, with imagination they can be turned into something as good as you could find in a shop.

3) Compound lever tin snips are one of the most versatile and useful hand tools you can own.

Step by step guide

Time to start making your own tin can tea light holder!

First, sign-up below and you’ll get a printable stencil that will save you some time and effort!

FREE stencil

To get your FREE stencil subscribe below:

Printable artwork

Let’s start cutting…

Clean the tin can
How to make a Tin can lantern: illustration 1

STEP 1: Take the empty tin can and peel off the label… but hold onto the lid, you’ll need that later.

STEP 2: Use tin snips (preferably compound lever tin snips) to cut around and remove the rim at the top of the tin can.

Mark segments
How to make a Tin can lantern: illustration 2

STEP 3: If you haven’t downloaded the free stencil, here’s how to make one: Cut a thin strip of paper equal in length to the circumference of the can. Measure the length of the strip, divide the length by 20, and use this measurement to make 19 equidistant marks along the strip.

Mark the tin can
How to make a Tin can lantern: illustration 3

STEP 4: Wrap the stencil around one end of the can, use the seam as the starting point, this will help keep everything vertical. Use a permanent marker to make a series of marks on the tin can inline with the marks on the stencil.

How to make a Tin can lantern: illustration 4

STEP 5: Slide the stencil to the other end of the tin can, making sure it’s still aligned with the seam.

STEP 6: Repeat the previous step. Use a ruler to join the two sets of marks, creating 19 vertical lines - draw a 20th line along the seam.

Cut the tin can
How to make a Tin can lantern: illustration 5

STEP 7: The next step is easy… snip along the lines using the tin snips!

Bend the strips
How to make a Tin can lantern: illustration 6

STEP 8: Orient the tin can so the base (or bottom) is on top and then bend every alternate strip upwards.

Make the feet
How to make a Tin can lantern: illustration 7

STEP 9: To make the feet, curl the ‘bottom’ strips tightly around a pencil and then release… they should spring open to create the spiral shape shown above. If they don’t, roll them again or try adjusting them by hand.

Make the top
How to make a Tin can lantern: illustration 8

STEP 10: Now, shape the ‘top’ strips by using pliers to add two folds towards each end, and then by curving the central section, as shown above.

Make a disc
How to make a Tin can lantern: illustration 9

STEP 11: Place a tea light onto the centre of the lid and draw around it with a permanent marker.

STEP 12: Cut the disc out using tin snips.

Glue together
How to make a Tin can lantern: illustration 10

STEP 13: The next step is a bit fiddly. Overlap the ends of the top strips, in an alternating fashion (if they are too long trim them) and then apply hot glue to secure them.

STEP 14: Finally, glue the disc into the centre using more hot glue.

You can now add your tea light and admire your handywork!


  • One tin can
  • A pair of compound lever tin snips
  • Marker pen
  • Ruler
  • Pliers
  • Hot glue gun

Give it your own twist

Once you’ve got your hands on a pair of compound lever tin snips the world is your oyster. Hang onto bicuit tins, tin cans and soda cans - they are all waiting to be transformed, just start snipping!

Written by
Photo of Scott Bedford
Scott Bedford

Maker, Illustrator and Author

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