Make a Stylish Flashlight Out of Kitchen Trash

Technology Workshop
Make a Stylish Flashlight Out of Kitchen Trash


You could call it a trashlight, a handy and handsome AA flashlight made out of little more than a soda can and a cereal box (plus a bulb and two AA batteries). Before you say anything, yes, of course you can buy super-cheap penlights like this. But that would be largely missing the point here. This is about making something yourself, something out of nothing. And I guarantee you that if you take the time to do this project, to render literal garbage into an useful everyday tool, you will get the warmest, fuzziest feeling every time you illuminate some dark corner of your world with it.


The Instructable for this soda can “torch” has all of the downloadable templates you need to trace and cut out, from the can for the inner metal bulb housing, switch mechanism, and bulb reflector to the cereal box outer cardboard wrap and battery. Here is the entire component list for the build:


  • (1) Flashlight bulb
  • (2) AA batteries
  • (1) Large cereal box
  • (1) Soda can
  • (1) Length of thin parcel wrapping string
  • (1) Small square of aluminum foil

Tools and Supplies

  • (1) Food coloring to dye the cardboard
  • (1) A small quantity of varnish
  • (1) Tube of quick-drying glue
  • Paint brush, scissors, craft knife, and hole puncher

With an hour or so of work, some template printing and cutting, folding, gluing, and painting, you should end up with a happy little light that you can be proud of. I think this could make a great kitchen table project to do with your kids. The next rainy summer afternoon, press gang the entire family into a trashlight assembly line. Everyone can make their own homemade light, with the outer wrap customized for each family member. If you do end up trying your hand at this project, we’d love to see \ the fruits of your labors in the comments below.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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