Whether you’re a fan of lazy evenings lounging in the garden or slowly sipping on pre-dinner drinks on the patio, you shouldn’t feel compelled indoors every time the summer sun goes down. That’s what outdoor lighting is for—staying out in the garden for as long as possible! Our latest project shows how you can DIY a solar lamp made from pallets, which you can place along garden pathways.
Often overlooked, outdoor lighting plays an important role in garden design and decor. It can be used to highlight a path, set the ambiance or illuminate special features such as flowerbeds or seating areas. And because it’s solar-powered, it doesn’t require cables, is easy to install and is economical.
We’ve made the solar lamp from pallet wood so that it is not only affordable, but also sturdy enough to withstand being knocked around in the garden. What’s more, this simple but eye-catching design will add an extra touch of character to your home’s outside space.
What you’ll need for the DIY solar lamp:
- Small solar light bulb
- Wood from pallets (we used 22 mm thick boards)
- A saw or jigsaw
- A drill driver
- A 3mm wood drill bit
- x6 50mm stainless steel screws
- A hole saw adjusted to fit the diameter of your solar lamp head
- A wood stain for exterior wood or a yacht varnish
How to DIY a solar lamp out of pallets
Step 1: Cut the wooden pallet boards
Take the pallet apart and prepare 5 boards from the original pallet.
Once prepared, saw the boards into 4 pieces that will be used to make the sides of your solar lamp. We used 2 boards measuring 50 cm long and 2 measuring 40 cm long. You can adapt these measurements to the height of solar light you want, but make sure there is a 10 cm difference between the two lengths.
Step 2: Build the solar lamp frame
Lay one of the smaller boards flat on the ground and position the larger ones at right angles to its sides. Make sure that the boards at the bottom of your light are lined up correctly. Mark the position of the screws with a pencil: you’ll need one top and one bottom placement for each board.
Pre-drill your boards with a 3mm drill bit and screw in the stainless steel screws. Repeat these steps for the shorter board, which will serve as the front of your bollard light.
Step 3: Make the top of your solar lamp
To make the top portion of your light, cut a rectangular piece of wood to fit the dimensions you’ve prepared. Next, sand the corners of the wood so that they are smooth and splinter-free.
Using your hole saw, drill a hole in the centre of the top. If possible, use a tool that measures the same diameter as the top of your solar path light so that the fit will be snug. If you don’t have this option, you will need to glue it together and use an outdoor silicone sealant.
Step 4: Fit the solar light into the top
Insert the solar path light (without its base) so that the solar panel fits with the top of your bollard. If necessary, use glue and a silicone sealant.
Step 5: Attach the top of your lamp to the frame
Before adding the top (the wood and lightbulb) that you’ve just assembled, you will need to pre-drill the wood. Once you’ve done that, you are ready to attach it onto the lamp base with the screws.
Step 6: Protect your pallet wood for the outside
Wooden pallets are not treated for outdoor use. Typically made of fir planks, the quality of each pallet varies; most will warp when exposed to the moisture and heat of an outdoor environment. To protect your solar light, you’ll need exterior-grade varnishes. Varnishes intended for extreme climatic conditions—such as those used to coat yachts or log cabins— are particularly effective. For something more natural, we recommend trying linseed oil varnish.
Whichever wood treatment you choose, it will need repainting at least once a year if you want to keep your solar light in good condition for many years to come.
All that’s left is choosing the perfect place for your DIY solar lamp—and making more to spread along your garden path!