How to turn old frames into a lantern, the perfect home decor for Christmas.
Anyone who follows me over at Scavenger Chic knows that I have three sons. Two are married and have their own homes and one more is just about to be a senior in high school.
While they were growing up, they all played on their share of sports teams. There were team pictures displayed in many picture frames.
That was years ago. The team pictures have since come down. Now I have a bunch of old frames just waiting for a project.
This project uses four of those inexpensive 8x10 frames, a lantern top. Don't worry, you don't have to have one to do this project. You will also need a scrap piece of 1 inch plywood for the base. The frames were just under 9" in width, and the base is about 11 ¼" square.
I did use a few more pieces of scrap wood, but I'll get to that.
How to turn old frames into a lantern
Line the old frames up squarely on the base (take the glass out first) and use finishing nails to attach.
Align picture frames
I didn't have a square dowel for the corners but I did have a 1x2...chopped in half, it's the perfect corner piece.
Add scrap wood in corners
Once again, I used a nail gun with finishing nails, this time to attach the corner pieces to the frames.
Add legs to picture frame lantern
I had bought this box of wooden pieces off of Ebay a while back because I'm always using an odd chunk of wood here and there in my creations and I hate to keep making trips to the store. Luckily I found 4 matching legs. If you don't happen to have a box of odd chunks of wood, think about building blocks. dowels, wooden balls from the craft store, decorative knobs, or even golf balls...check out the feet I used for this one way sign tray.
Speaking of golf, have you seen this repurposed golf club birdie?
To attach my legs, I pre-drilled four holes and just screwed them in.
Construct the top of lantern made from old frames
For the top, four pieces of 2x4's from pallet wood sides were miter cut to equal the length and width of the plywood base. Wood glue and finishing nails hold the pieces in place.
After the wood glue dries, give the pieces a good sanding.
Paint inside of lantern black
While there was still no glass on the frames, I painted the inside of the lantern black.
This was just a test to see if everything was fitting as planned. The extra wood piece at the top is about 6 ½" square, I had bought it from a craft store years ago to use in a lamp but my plan was never completed. You can get the same look with a piece of pine and a router or just use a plain piece of scrap and sand the edges.
Add scrap wood for molding
From my dry run, I decided that my lantern tower needed one more layer, 1x4 scrap wood, cut in the same manner as the pallet wood gave me the extra stair effect.
Nail the larger square made from the pallet wood to the bottom frame. The 1x4 frame is then nailed to the pallet layer.
Add a finial to picture frame lantern
If you don't have a random lantern top sitting around, or if you don't plan to use a real candle in the lantern you could leave the lantern as is, or finish it with a decorative finial.
I have one more idea for you...I constructed a lantern a while back with a DIY vented top made from scrap corrugated metal...you can find that lantern here.
What can I use on the to of my diy picture frame lantern?
For my top, I traced around the metal of the lantern top and drew another line further in as my cut line.
The inside hole was cut out and the edges sanded.
Paint the DIY lantern
When you're finished sanding, it's time to paint in the color of your choice. My paint is just my white, exterior, semi-gloss house paint.
Notice how I never attached the lantern top, it will serve as a lid. Since none of the frames are on hinges, that is how I'll access anything I decide to put in my lantern. The opening will also allow me to access the glass panes for removal if necessary.
Antique with wax or glaze
My white was way too white, so once again I sanded the edges and finished off the lantern with a bit of tinted wax. Now it's perfectly old/new.
Time to set the table. Here I'm using a real candle but the fake candles would probably be a bit safer.
Could also use in the kitchen for a fruit bowl...
...Or fill it with ornaments or twinkle lights for Christmas.
I showed you a couple of ideas but you really could fill it with just about anything...how about a plant, seashells, Easter eggs, a stack of little pumpkins for Halloween, old books...anything.
Stay inspired and I'll see you back here next month.
Maybe you're looking for an easy sheet metal candle lantern?
see more of Joan's projects here
Related Content: Picture Frame Ideas For Home Decor and More
Hi Gail may i ask you where you go the top metal part of your lantern please, thanks
It was an old lantern top. You could easily use a finial, or anything else with a little height on it.
Audra @ Renewed Projects
I always wondered how to secure the edges of the frame together. I actually started on a project like this and couldn't figure out how to join the frames. Thanks for posting an excellent tutorial!
Doreen @ Altered Artworks
That is very clever! What a great use of old picture frames.
Something from little bits of nothing - that's what I love about your work. Recycled some old TV's that were dumped behind our thrift store and saw a60's console TV there. "What would Gail make from this?" Wanted to take it home - had room in the van, but no room in the shed! Thanks for sharing your creativity. LOVE your passing on inspiration and a strong desire for power tools!
Is there anything you can't do, what a woman. How I'd love to have your imagination and talent, wow. Did you teach your sons how to do any of what you do? If so your married sons would have very happy wives, making awesome things for their homes. Was looking at some of your other projects have made, how great you can do all that and come up with such incredible items. Think I really need to subscribe to your blog. Have great rest of week
I am always in awe of your creativity and imagination! I would never have looked at frames and envisioned a lantern. Your project is gorgeous!
OMG- this is one of the best ones yet!!! I might make one for each side of my entrance hall table!!!! And smaller ones for the Mantle...... and one for the dining room table- or two for the buffet...and one for the kitchen counter for the fruit. LOVE IT!!!!
I see an assembly line in your future. Have fun!
this is a great idea! the thrift store has SO many frames that come in...
Joan! I love your lantern made from old frames. I don't own any lanterns, but I have all kinds of bits and pieces to make my own. I think you have inspired me to dig through my stash.... hehehe
Thanks for such a great project tutorial.
Thanks Gail. Usually I'm running to the store to buy just one more piece but this time I had everything on hand. A great way to use up all your bits.