Mason Jar Light

Mason Jar Light

Those cute girls from Bower Power (Katie) and Young House Love (Sherry), along with a couple other blogging rock stars, have thrown down the gauntlet and issued the Fall Pinterest Challenge. I decided to take them up on their challenge.

Since I have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to projects I want to do, I figured this was the kick in the ‘ol buttchocks that I needed. Enter my Pinterest inspiration piece.


While Mason jars, particularly the blue ones, have taken the decorating world by storm for awhile now, I’ve actually had a collection of them for the past 24 years that have held everything from rice to sea shells. Way back when, Hub’s grandmother gave them to me. We’d been visiting her farm out in Kansas and I saw a bunch of them in her cellar. I told her I thought they were beautiful and she said, “Take ‘em!”

I’m sure she thought I was a little tetched in the noggin’ for lovin’ her caning jars. I’d feel the same way if my future granddaughter-in-law told me she was in love with all my old ziplock baggies. Not that ziplock baggies have the same staying power as Mason jars, or that I even keep mine. But you get what I’m saying. To her, they were as meaningful as baggies are to me.

Anyhoo, where was I? Oh, yeah. The light. Want to see how mine turned out? Do ya?

Fine. Be like that.

Pretty awesome, right? I’m super in love with it.

Want to know how I did it? If yes, well then, you’re gonna have to keep reading. If no, then thanks for coming by and checking out my Mason Jar Light. Come back again soon, ya hear?

Are you still here? Okay, I’m going to show you a picture, simply for reference sake, and then you’re going to immediately forget you saw it. Deals?

Ack! Brain bleach, Stat!

In my defense, this is just days after we moved in a few months ago. It’s the only before picture that I have to show you the window above the sink. Feel free to forget it’s “realness.” See how there’s a sculptured wood bridge between the cabinets? No? Well, it’s there along with a whole lot of oak cabinets.

One thing this kitchen does not lack for is wood surfaces. It’s a sea of oak. For reference sake, the cabinets below the counter is the actual color in real life. The cabinets look very red above the counter in this picture, but in real life, they are more brown than red/orange.

Here’s a better shot of the window before I started but after I removed the wood bridge and decorative railing.

I also had to patch some drywall before I could move forward. One thing I’ve learned in remodeling houses, is that you NEVER know what you’re going to find once you start taking things apart.

CAUTION: Make sure you have cut the power at the electric box to the light before touching any electrical wires.

I was going to go all Mandi Tremayne (love her!) on you and be all, “Let me explain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up,” but it’s just not my nature to keep things short. See, if you click on my inspiration picture, you will not get to any tutorial. In fact, there’s not any I could find on the internet. Since I’m all about teaching, I thought I’d help a fellow DIY’er out and give you a tutorial.

Here’s what I bought:

I could probably be super helpful and look up all the technical names of the parts. Yeah, not gonna happen. Here’s what’s important to know. The parts are all the 1/2” size. I bought them at the local True Value store. There’s a store in my village and the people there couldn’t be more helpful. I swear, every time I go in there, I get a personal assistant to help me figure out my projects. It’s awesome!

There was a Hollywood bar light above the sink that I pulled down. I cannibalized the light sockets from that for my new light. In the inspiration piece, they used the old zinc lids for their light. I only have a few zinc lids and I just couldn’t bring myself to damage them.

Instead, I spray painted some regular Mason jar rings and lids with a silver spray paint. I was going to use some acrylic paint to make the lids look more like zinc, but the silver looks fine to me so I haven’t done this step.

I needed a hole in the lid, and my chisel was just the tool. Shhhhh. Don’t tell Hubs because he always gets mad at me for my abuse of the chisel. However, it’s just so happens to be the perfect tool for the job.

I made an X in the middle(ish) of the lid.

Then I pushed the sides in to make the hole, like so:

If the hole isn’t big enough, just use the chisel to widen the opening. Once the hole is big enough, put the threaded pipe into the hole.

Push the metal flaps down until they are flush against the lid. Then screw on one of the locking nuts to hold the pipe in place. You actually want a nut on each side of the lid to hold the pipe in place.

One thing I had to figure out was how to connect a 1/8” electrical thread (from the light socket) to the 1/2” pipe thread. Since there is not adapter to go between these two different types of threaded pipe, I had to get creative.

Enter, Magnum Steel.

Magnum Steel

I’d never used this stuff before, but it’s freaking awesome. Although, it’s name totally cracks me up because I’m pretty sure one of my sisters wanted to name their kid Magnum Steel. It’s true. I think she had a lingering crush on Magnum, PI and Remington Steel. Fortunately, good sense and a reluctant brother-in-law thwarted me from having a nephew named Magnum.

The Magnum Steel is a clay that you slice off, knead, and then put in place. It can withstand temperatures of up to 300 degrees, so it’s an excellent solution for this area that’s going to get hot from a light bulb.

It’s rock hard in just a few minutes, so you have to work fast. I started by “welding” a washer to the end of my pipe.

Once that was dry, I threaded the wires from the light socket into the washer hole, and then Magnum Steel Welded the socket onto the washer.

It’s not pretty, but it is as solid as steel, and it is hidden under the lid section. Next, I put my pipe pieces together. One other thing I had to adjust for, was the two pipe pieces below. They really are meant to be tightened one more turn, but I liked how the pipe on the left dropped down at this position. Having it in this postion, though, made the two pieces wobbly. I solved the problem with a little Magnum Steel.

Next, I attached the boxes and conduit together. I measured how wide I wanted my whole light (29.25” – width of the inside window frame). Then, I cut the conduit to size and attached the junction box unit to wall. I put in wall anchors for all the screws, just to make sure the weight of the light didn’t pull the light off the wall.

Next, you need to wire the light. Disclaimer: I am not a licensed electrician, nor do I play one on my blog. This is simply how I did it. Copy me at your own risk.

That said, I personally think electrical stuff isn’t that hard. You have to make sure the same colored wires are connected together. I purchased some white and black 12-gauge wire from True Value.

Here’s a mock-up of how it’s wired together:

I joined the white wire from the sockets together and connected them to the white wire coming out of the wall. Same for the black wires. The old light had a thin copper wire for the ground wire. The ground wire that comes out of the wall was thick, so I joined the thinner one to it and grounded it to the screw that holds on the face plate.

Make sure the connector caps are tight. Use some electric tape to wrap the connections. Shove all the wires into the junction box and screw on the cover plate.

Attach the light bulbs and jars, turn your power back on and you’re in business.

I originally had jars all the same size, but then I remembered I had a bigger jar. I like that better in the middle.

I really wanted to use these long bulbs in all the jars, but they are too big for the smaller jars. I know I have to hide the extension cord on the left, but one project at a time, ‘k? Thanks.

This was not my cheapest project. I’m pressed for time, so I will sum up here. The total cost was around $60 for the light bulbs, pipes, Magnum Steel, various pipes/electrical pieces and wires. The jars, lids and sockets were parts I had on hand.

ps. True Value is not a sponsor, nor was I compensated by them in any way, other than their super amazing advice and service. However, if they wanted to make me one of their Blog Squad members, I’d probably wet myself with joy.

I’m audtitioning for the OMTWI competition. Be sure to check out their site.