How to Make a Pendant Light from a Vintage Tea Tin

Turn Vintage Tins into Charming Kitchen Lighting

Vintage tins look charming repurposed as pendant lights.
Vintage Tea Tins. "Tea Tins" by tilling-67CC BY-ND 2.0/ Flickr

Vintage advertising and tea tins eventually turn up at nearly every flea market, antique mall, and thrift store. The tins feature fun colorful graphics and text. Here's how to make a pendant light out of your favorite one. The supplies are cheap -- and the process is fast.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: approximately 1 hour

Supplies You Need:

  • Vintage Tin
  • Jigsaw or Dremel
  • Cloth Measuring Tape
  • Hanging Light Kit
  • Hole Saw
  • Power Drill
  • Black Marker
  • Drill Bit
  • 2 Swag Hooks
  • Light Bulb

DIY Pendant Light Instructions: 

  1. Wash and dry the tin and lid. Glue the lid to tin with super glue.
  2. Turn the can upside down, and cut out the bottom. Use a jig saw with a blade designed to cut metal, or a Dremel with a metal cutting wheel.
  3. Measure around the dome of a plug-in, hanging light kit. The dome is the part just above a larger rim next to the open socket. Divide the dome’s circumference by pi, which is 3.14, to find the dome’s diameter.
  4. Select a saw-tooth hole saw sized 1/8 to 1/4 inch larger than the light kit dome’s diameter. Make sure the hole saw is smaller than the rim beneath the dome. Attach the hole saw to a drill. Drill the hole saw through the center of the glued-on lid.
  5. Mark the tin with small dots from a black, medium-point marker. Add dots wherever you want light to shine through the can. Trace the outlines of the tin’s design, arrange the dots into a pattern or just place them at random -- whichever you prefer.
  6. Attach a drill bit designed for metal to your drill; the bit and hole size is up to you. Drill through the black dots you marked on the tin. Don’t worry if the drill messes up the paint around the holes. The missing paint will just add to the vintage, rustic feel of the lamp.
  7. Feed the plug end of the light cord through the tin from the bottom, and then out through the hole in the lid. Pull the cord through the hole until the dome emerges. The larger rim will hold the dome in place once you hang the lamp.
  8. Screw a low-wattage light bulb into the socket. Swag the cord over two ceiling hooks, the first centered over the spot where you want the lamp to hang. Plug the cord into a wall outlet.

DIY Pendant Light Tips:

  1. Use the same process to make hanging lamps out of bulk-sized food cans, paint cans, tin pails, colanders, or coffee cans. Turn the items upside down, and cut the socket holes through their bottoms.
  2. If you make the hanging lamp from a paint can, tin pail, or coffee can, you can leave it unpainted if you’d rather have an industrial, metallic look. If you want color, add a painted design -- a geometric, floral, or even a pastoral motif inspired by primitive artwork.