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How to Build a Simple Wood Lantern

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Home decor can be expensive! You know I love a good DIY project, but even that can be costly. Today I’m sharing a simple wood lantern that came in at less than $10 to build 2 of them! A truly budget friendly and beautiful DIY.

DIY black wood lantern

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We’ve all seen this meme right? Craft supplies can be expensive, especially if you don’t have the basics like paint or tools.

Why buy it meme

This wood lantern is made from thin and light weight balsa wood that can be found at the craft store, no saw or drill required to complete this project. Just some glue and a little creativity.

Scroll down for the full tutorial on this DIY wood lantern

I chose to paint my wooden lanterns a gloss black because that’s the spray paint I had in my stash. Again, trying to save a little money here. You can use spray paint for these pieces or use good old craft paint and a brush.

It’s one thing to create something cheaply and give yourself a pat on the back. It’s another thing to create something that you really really want to buy and be able to make it for a whole lot less.

I love the look of lanterns, they add so much style to any fall or winter decor. I use them on my mantle, front porch and all around my house. So these wood lanterns are going to get a lot of use.

TIP: If you want to use a wood lantern outside, be sure to add a coat of sealer to the piece after the paint has dried. This will protect the finish.

You can use a wood lantern for home decor, or for a wedding centerpiece or party. Make a few of these in varying heights and use them as a table centerpiece! You can cluster them together for a holiday tablescape too. Really, these are such versatile pieces.

Let me show you how to build your own wood lantern

Learn how to make a simple wood lantern

How to Make a Simple Wood Lantern

Yield: 2
Active Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: 10

A simple wooden lantern to decorate your home.



  • Craft knife
  • Wood Glue
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Clamp


wood lantern supplies

  1. Cut the balsa wood strips down to size. 4 measuring 8 inches each and 4 measuring 5 inches each.
  2. Balsa wood in thin and light weight, it can be cut with a craft knife.
  3. Sand down any rough edges.

clamp wood lantern

  1. Using wood glue, place a wood strip between 2 wood plaques at the corners and hold together with a clamp until the glue dries. Repeat the process for the other side.
  2. Glue a drawer pull to the top of the lantern and let everything dry completely.

prep for paint wood lantern

  1. Paint the lanterns with a few light coats of spray paint, allowing it to dry for 10 minutes in between.
  2. If you plan to use these lanterns outside, add a coat of sealer to protect the finish.


This tutorial makes 2 lanterns, use these steps to create wood lanterns of any size. Just vary the length of the wood strips and even the size of the wood plaques.

Because balsa wood is so light and these lanterns are decorative, they will hold up well with jut wood glue. For a more durable or larger piece I would recommend using stronger wood and a nail gun.

Did you make this project?

Share yours and tag @creativeramblings

I played around with different ways to accessorize these lanterns. Pilar and jar candles look pretty inside, but my favorite way is to add a small glass jar and fill it. I love how twinkle lights look, or a small LED tea light. They also look great filled with seasonal items like ornaments, pumpkins or leaves.

This project is part of a monthly challenge that I just love called At Home DIY Challenges. A group of DIY bloggers gets together to share projects all falling under a theme. This month we were challenged to create a $20 DIY project. Well folks I came in way under that and I’m pretty proud of myself.

In previous challenges I’ve created a 2 hour planter box and this 2×4 fall sign. I also like to round up projects from each month, because these are just too good to only see once. Check out these 2x4 projects, outdoor projects and upcycled home decor.

Like this DIY wooden lantern? Pin it and share it.

How to build a wood lantern (1)

If you love simple wood projects you are going to want to check out my wood sign series. I share all the steps for building, staining, stenciling and framing wood signs. Check out the videos and step by step tutorials below.

HOW TO build and stencil a wood sign. Full video tutorial.

Thanks for visiting!

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Friday 1st of November 2019

I live in northern California and fires are a real danger. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE LANTERNS ARE NOT FOR CANDLES OR ANY OPEN FLAME!


Friday 1st of November 2019

Yes, these should be used for LED lights only. Nothing that gets hot or could damage the wood above it.

Christine Cook

Tuesday 24th of September 2019

The lanterns are so pretty!!! I want to make some!!

Teri Moore

Sunday 15th of September 2019

What a fantastic idea! I'd love to build a ton of these to display outside around Christmastime!

Tami Nelson

Friday 1st of November 2019

Some wood glues won't hold up to getting wet, trying to you save you some disappointment. I found out the hard way.

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