Winter is almost upon us as I write this, and the temporary post I made to mark the edge of our driveway is in danger of getting run over one of these dark evenings. But with nothing in the store I liked the look of, I headed into the workshop to see what I could knock up out of stuff I already had kicking around; here’s what I came up with…
I love pallet wood (who doesn’t?!) and Norway is awash with reusable jam jars (called canning jars, Mason jars or Kilner jars in other places), that are attractive to my eye as well as being very tough. A match made in heaven methinks…
A couple of hours later and voila! That should stop anyone driving off the side of our short but awkwardly steep driveway on a dark snowy night!
If you fancy a go, here’s how I made this garden bollard light…
I used four pieces of wood taken from a USA standard pallet, a ‘Norge’ canning jar, and a disc cut from some scrap metal to hold the bulb holder. Oh, and some cable of course.
Make a rough full-sized sketch to see what size post you need to make. You should aim for a post that has just enough room to hold the jar, but not so small that the jar sticks out past the outside of the wooden post.
Most pallet timber needs a little work for this kind of project, as it can be a little wavy on the edges. To form a nice fitting box without big gaps simply clamp the sides of the box together in pairs and hand plane one set of edges until they are nice and straight. Rip your wood down to size on a table saw making sure to run the newly planed edges against the fence. The wide sides are the same width as the diameter of the jar and the short sides are the the same as the wide ones, minus twice the woods thickness, giving you a square box, (this may vary depending upon the type of jar).
Check the edges with a spirit level or other known straight edge and tidy up any high spots with your hand plane. This will make sure your post forms a neat ‘box’ and looks nice and solid. I used butt joints on the corners but you could mitre the edges if you want to really go for the solid wood look.
Next is to form the slim corner posts. Use a handsaw for the cuts down the grain and a jig saw for the bottom cuts, or a jig saw for the whole thing if you can hold a straight line! Care is needed with these as the corner posts are quite fine and rough handling could easily break them. They become a little stronger once the top is fastened in place.
An alternative way to build this lamp was pointed out in the comments below and I thought it was a good idea and I’d probably do it this way next time…. instead of cutting the corner posts on two of the boards it was suggested to cut them one to a board, that way each board has just two easier straight cuts instead of the “U” shaped cut I did. Here is a very rough photoshop mock up of how it would look…
And here is a pic sent in by Wim of his shorter lamp using this alternative method…
Either way, assemble the box and clamp it together so you can find out how the mason jar fits. I found that the screw on lid was jut a little too big to sit down into the box so I removed a little wood from the inside edge on mine using a table saw technique called ‘coving’ (google it!). This part will not be seen, so you can chew it out with a chisel if you prefer. Keep trial fitting your jar until it fits properly inside the box.
Screw the box together using exterior grade screws. Decking screws are perfect for this, if a little long. Drill clearance holes in the wider pieces and pilot holes deep into the sides of the other before screwing together. This is because pallet timber can be quite hard and brittle, you don’t want to split anything at this stage…
To incorporate the bulb holder into the jars lid I cut a metal disc out of a piece of scrap using tin snips and drilled a hole in it to take the bulb holder.
I wired up the bulb holder and assembled it using silicone to keep any moisture out of the electrics. But don’t seal everything up tight or condensation will be a problem. I drilled some weep holes in the metal disc, between the plastic lamp holder and the jar retaining ring (once the silicone was dry). Occasionally condensation will form on the inside of the jar but the heat of the bulb soon dries it out.
How you do this may vary, depending on the style of your jar and what you have to hand to make the flat part of the lid, just don’t forget to get some air in there somehow!
To make a top for the post, place a square offcut of pallet wood on top of the four thin corner posts and center it up. Mark around each post not forgetting to mark the lid and inside the post to maintain the correct orientation. Drill a clearance hole through the centre of the marks you made and a deep and generously sized pilot hole down the centre of each corner post. Remember these posts are very thin and will easily split, the pilot hole should be large enough that the screw goes in very, very easily.
Now you can thread the cable through the post and slide the jar into place. Push the screws for the top through the clearance holes in the top and line each one up with the pilot hole in the corner posts, gently screw the top down. If a screw gets tight, remove it and drill bigger pilot holes.
To mount the post I used a piece of 70mm x 70mm timber screwed into the bottom of the bollard post, projecting 150mm and slotted this into a metal fence post holder.
Let me know how you got on with yours!
By Ian Anderson
p.s. The house number is one I carved into a lump of firewood a while back.
p.p.s POST UPDATE
I’ve been playing around with different LED light bulbs (since the bollard lamp is on all night….) to save energy, here is a couple I’ve tried from Simply LED a new supplier I’m trying…
So far, so good, the one that’s illuminated in the pic looks like a little Christmas tree! The other one is too bright I think, so that one will go into a tall lamp we have. Other wise of course you can get LED bulbs from amazon.
LED’s are certainly the way to go these days, I’m gradually changing all of our bulbs over and loving the clean light and look.
Solar Version of the Garden Bollard Lamp
After lots of comments about making a solar version of this garden lamp someone has finally made one! Akis Mavridis over on Pinterest posted a picture of it and how nice it looks too! Many thanks Akis!