Build your own lanterns from 2×4 wood with these plans that include all of the measurements! These lanterns are a great way to use scrap wood, so save this for your list of projects you can’t wait to make!

You can use these plans to make lanterns in a variety of sizes. These lanterns are perfect for:

  • Interior decor
  • Porch decor
  • Holiday gifts
  • Craft fairs

Whether you decide to sell or keep them, this DIY lantern is a great beginner project that can be customized with a variety of paints, stains and other decorative accessories.

This Christmas tree is perfect for the front porch and wrapping Christmas lights around it for holiday decor.

Learn how to make this DIY lantern using a few basic power tools by following the step by step instructions below.

rustic lanterns: easy and affordable with 2x4s
rustic lanterns: easy and affordable with 2x4s

You all know how much I love pallets so I keep a stack at my shop at all times.  Once I cut the pallets off of the frame, I am left with a stack of 2 x 4’s from the frames…woohoo!  I use them for all sorts of projects and these rustic lanterns are now one of my favorites ways to upcycle those old, and yes free 2×4’s!

If you don’t have any scrap 2 x 4’s on hand, you can purchase them very inexpensively at your local hardware store.

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Supplies needed for this rustic lantern:

  • Two 2′ x 4′ x 8′ boards (I used 181.5  total inches of 2 x 4 wood.  I put this measurement in total inches in case you are using scrap wood like I am)
  • 2.5″ wood screws
  • Wood Glue
  • Baling Wire
  • Finial  (This is very similar to the one I used) 
  • Wood stain or paint if using untreated lumber (if these will be outside, use exterior-rated stain or paint)


Rustic Lantern cut list:

  • 6 @  2 x 4 x 9.5″ for base and top
  • 4 @  2 x 4 x 18″  for tall structure posts
  • 5 @  2 x 4 x 6.5″ for longer sides and upper top piece
  • 4 @  2 x 4 x 3.5″ for the short sides
  • 4 @  2 x 4 x 1.5″  for the feet

Lantern Instructions:

rustic lanterns: easy and affordable with 2x4s

If you have never used a Kreg Jig you should give it a try.  It makes joining 2 pieces of wood together fast and easy.

If you do not have a Kreg Jig, you can make this project by using wood glue and clamps in steps 1 and 2.

rustic lanterns: easy and affordable with 2x4s

Step 1)  Using the kreg jig drill 4 pocket holes in 4 of the 9.5″ boards.

Step 2)  Screw 2 of the pocket-hole-drilled 9.5″ boards to each side of an undrilled 9.5″ board.  Repeat with the other 3 9.5″ boards.   This creates the top and bottom of your lantern.

rustic lanterns: easy and affordable with 2x4s

Flip the boards over.  Just ignore the holes on the board above.  It has nothing to do with this project.  Remember, I am using recycled boards.

rustic lanterns: easy and affordable with 2x4s

Step 3)  Apply a small amount of wood glue to the end of one of your 18″ boards.  

Note:  Apply a small bead of wood glue at each joint where wood touches wood.

rustic lanterns: easy and affordable with 2x4s

Step 4)  Attach the 18″ board to the bottom of your lantern using 2″ screws.  Repeat with the other three 18″ boards.

rustic lanterns: easy and affordable with 2x4s

Step 5)  Flip the lantern over and start attaching “6.5” and “3.5” boards.  Because these are rustic lanterns, I used 2.5″ wood screws and drilled them in from the sides but you could use your Kreg Jig for a cleaner look as well.

rustic lanterns: easy and affordable with 2x4s

Step 6)  Set the top of the lantern in place over the upright 18″ boards.  Secure with wood screws.

Step 7)  Using wood screws, attach your remaining 6.5″ board to the top of lantern for added dimension.  Attach optional finial if desired.

Step 8)  Screw in a 1.5″ screw to each side of your topper board.  Attach baling wire to create a handle.

rustic lanterns: easy and affordable with 2x4s

So what do you think? These can obviously also be done with new 2×4’s for a cleaner look, but it’s a perfect way to use up scraps from building projects! Of course once I made this one my mind went crazy with designs for others.  You can find another design HERE.

Each and everyone of you inspire me and I LOVE to see the work that you’ve created. Feel free to share with me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. And as always, be sure to follow Diva Of DIY on Pinterest and sign up for our FREE Newsletter to receive the latest projects delivered straight to your inbox!

If you like this project, check out these:

Check out all the 2×4 Challenge projects:

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