Genius! The Emergency Essential You Can Make with Cardboard and a Can

Sure, you could buy a flashlight from the store—but not one like this! Put your skills to the test with this MacGyver-esque DIY for your toolkit.

By Rachel Elmkies | Updated Nov 18, 2016 3:42 PM

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DIY Flashlight - Completed Project


No matter who you are—Boy Scout, first-time renter, or veteran homeowner—the small but mighty flashlight is an invaluable addition to any toolkit. Portable light comes in handy for everything from maneuvering during a power outage to finding your remote in that dark abyss under the couch. So, why make it yourself when you can pick it up at the hardware store? Two reasons: cost and customization. When you make one from almost entirely of recycled and repurposed (read: free) materials, you can customize the color, grip, battery size, and weight of your flashlight. Lucky for us, Instructables user paul em deconstructs the tool into a handful of truly accessible parts—right down to the cereal box shell, aluminum can-turned-bulb holder, and some tin foil!

Want to follow in his footsteps? Start by prepping your recycled materials. Carefully cut down the side of your can, from top to bottom, and lop off both ends. Flatten out the curled sheet of aluminum that’s left, and you have the material for inside of your flashlight. Then cut out the back of the largest cereal box you have in recycling; when folded into a rectangle, it will house the whole contraption. This upcycling DIY comes with four templates to help you cut and fold both aluminum and cardboard pieces into the base of your soon-to-be-working flashlight. The folds will support your light bulb, hold two stacked batteries in place, and create an on-off switch for easy operation.

Pop the batteries in whenever you’re ready to head out and use it for an extended amount of time, like a weekend camping trip. While you may not actually earn a scout badge for this sustainable craft, you’ll gain a new appreciation for everything you can do with an empty cereal box, soda can, and a little ingenuity—plus a really cool flashlight.

FOR MORE: Instructables

DIY Flashlight - Pieces and Parts