Indoor Project: Mason Jar Chandelier

For the past 4 1/2 weeks I’ve been on medical leave from work. The time has gone by quickly and I’ve very ready to get back to work. My family is ready too. Mostly because in the past week I’ve been feeling much better and I’ve started to take on random projects. Of course I’m not feeling quite 100% so I still need help and all 3 of the projects I’m currently undertaking require a second set of hands to complete. Today I’m going to tell you about one project that I’ve been working on.

I saw something on somewhere (probably Pinterest) and followed a link somewhere else and somehow landed on a link for this mason jar chandelier. Then I did a google search for a way to make it myself. I found this article. Not sure if I could create such a thing myself or find all of the parts I turned to my favorite site for all things hand crafted. I found this one. Yikes! It was more expensive than the Pottery Barn one. I’ve spent the past 4 weeks trying to figure out how to make the chandelier on my own, make it cost much less and then have the energy to tackle the project. Yesterday was a perfect “storm” of ingenious.

My biggest hangup with the project was finding the right cord to hang the jars from. Most of the tutorials have you using simple lamp cord. You can pick that up at any large box store. The problem with lamp cord is that it is not suitable for hanging. In addition most instructions had you buy keyless sockets or other lamp bits that I wasn’t sure where to locate. I did find instructions on how to create a modified version of the chandelier with bits from IKEA.

IKEA!

Those darn Swedes have the answers to everything. If they don’t you can hack it apart to make it into something else. You should see my floor cabinet turned wall cabinet. In any case, yesterday I set out to gather the pieces I needed to make my chandelier and do so for under $100. Here’s what I did. My light is roughly 24″ x 18″ with 8 jars.

Bits you’ll need:
8 – Hemma Lights (in the color you like, white or black) $3.99 each
Wall Anchors rated for ceiling use
Finish nails
1 1/2″ screws
8 – mason jars with rings and lids (I had them already in my stash, I used non matching jars) $0
Pieces of recycled cedar fence boards (the size of my wood scraps were what dictated the size of my light fixture) $0
1 – 1″x1″ piece of lumber $2.97
electrical caps

Tools you’ll need:
Saw (I have a compound mitre saw)
drill
hammer
wire stripper/cutter
tape measure
tin snips (aviation shears)
1/4″ drill bit
13/64″ drill bit
screw driver
awl (sharp poking device)

First assemble your supplies and tools. I found that putting all of the bits in a containment device was handy so I didn’t lose anything.

8 Hemma Lights from IKEA

Ceiling anchors, screws and finish nails (I bought brad nails, but they wouldn't fit in my staple gun so I had to hammer regular nails the old fashioned way)

Wood (I used recycled cedar fence boards I rescued from The Nursery when we took a fence out last year)

The first step is to determine the size of your light fixture. I wanted mine to be 24″x18″ (or there abouts). I found the 3 pieces that would make up the bottom of the lighting box. I laid them out and measured them and then cut the end pieces of the box to fit. Then I measured for and cut the side pieces. I didn’t take photos of this process, but basically it is building a wooden crate with an open top.

Once you have that done flip the crate over and create a frame out of the 1×1. I did that by first marking the inside of the box with numbers 1, 2, 3 & 4 so I knew which sides of the frame matched the sides of the crate. Then I measured the inside of the crate and cut the 1×1 to fit and used the screws to assemble the inside frame. This frame you’ll mount to the ceiling and then mount the finished crate to the frame. Again I didn’t take photos of that part.

Lay out your jars on the top of the crate and mark the centers of the jars. I went with 3 rows of jars and my jars didn't match.

Since my jars didn't match I labeled the spots for the jars and the jars.

Next drill a 1/4" hole where you marked the center of the jars.

Use a wire stripper to cut the plug ends off of the light fixtures. You'll actually cut the majority of the cord off in the end.

Thread the cords through the holes. At this point you can cut off more of the cord if you like. It makes managing the crate easier.

Next you’ll prep the jar lids.

Use a sharpie to trace around the light fixture. Try to center the fixture in the top of the jar.

Theoretically cutting the circles could be done with a drill bit, but you need a 1 1/2″ bit and mine didn’t work very well.

Using an awl or other sharp poking device poke a hole in the center of the lid.

I found that having the lid on a jar made this process easier. Just be careful.

Use the tin snips (aviation shears) to cut along the line you traced.

Repeat 8 times (or however many jars you have).

Next you’ll attach the 1×1 frame you made to the ceiling. First I drilled 4 holes 1 size larger than my anchor bolts in the frame. For me this was 13/64″. I lined the frame up on the ceiling and my husband held it there so I could make sure it was straight. Then we used the drill to mark the frame holes in the ceiling.

The anchors were then put in the ceiling and the frame attached.

We temporarily attached the crate to the frame so we could adjust the lamp cords and then marked those with tape. We took down the crate and used the white clips included in the Hemma fixtures to keep the cords from slipping back down.

Trim the cords to a manageable length and carefully cut back the outer sheathing to expose the black and white wires inside. Try not to cut through the black and white sheathing inside if possible. We also found that it’s best if you expose about 2″ of the black and white cord. Strip the ends of the black and white cords. This was the most difficult part of the process.

You’ll also want to create a “pig tail” that will actually attach to the ceiling wiring. Cut a piece of the extra cord and expose both ends. My husband was smart and made the pig tail about 4′ long so he could wire the fixture to the ceiling while it was sitting on a chair. All the extra wire is hidden in the crate so having one that long wasn’t an issue.

To create the pig tail gather all of the exposed ends of the white wires and one end of the pig tail (white wire) and attach them together with an electrical cap. Do the same with the black wires.

Then wire the pig tail to the ceiling. At this point I suggest turning the power back on to make sure your fixture works before mounting it back on the ceiling. If everything checks out ok gather up all the loose wires into the crate and attach the crate to the ceiling frame with screws.

Unscrew the ring on each pendant, put on a jar ring, then the lid, then put the fixture ring back on.

Screw in a light bulb, attach the jar and you're done!

Here are a few tips we learned.

  • Don’t try to do the actual wiring when it’s getting dark outside. If you’re like us we had to remove the existing light fixture to do the temporary mount on the new fixture so the cutting and stripping of wires was done by our back sliding door while the sun was going down.
  • Make sure you turn the power off while doing any wiring. You would think my husband would have learned this by now, but evidently not.
  • I’m all for being energy efficient, but if you have a dimmer switch CFL bulbs are not the best choice. I purchased 40 watt CFL bulbs (partially because they were $1.97 for a 4 pack) and because our dimmer switch does not have an on/off switch the bulbs flicker. I now have to go out and buy regular bulbs.
  • Purchase the lowest wattage bulb possible. We went from a 5 bulb fixture with yellowing shades to 8 dangling light bulbs. Holy cow it’s bright!

I will also note that I am not a certified electrician.  I am not responsible if you burn your house down while attempting a wiring project.  If you are uncomfortable working on your home’s electrical stuff please hire an electrician.

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7 comments

  1. Michele says:

    Cool! I saw this idea online too, but unlike you, I didn’t have the motivation to actually make one. Good Job!

  2. Cristiana says:

    This is a wonderful tutorial, you gave us some great ideas! My husband and I are getting ready to make one of these chandeliers! Thanks a bunch!

  3. Andy says:

    Hey there, the chandelier looks awesome. I am finally getting around to making my own. Do you know what gauge wire is in those Hemma lights you used? Thanks and keep up the good work!

    • Lisa says:

      Andy, I couldn’t tell you what gauge the wire is per se. All I know is inside there are 2 wires (a hot and a cold) that you wire to a pigtail and then the pigtail to the house wiring.

  4. sonya says:

    Thank you soooo much we have searched high and low for instructions on how to connect all the wires into one and you did it for me now I can finally get this thing started, much love for ya

  5. Alison says:

    Brilliant! I’ve been wanting to build one of these for months but have been trying to figure out the best way to mount it to the cieling/joists (and make it removable for when we sell the house in a few years). Thanks so much for posting! I can finally build mine this weekend

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