DIY: Transform an Old Film Canister Into a Tiny Flashlight for Your Camera Bag


Here’s a good weekend project for those of you who have some old film canisters lying around, and a bit of DIY know-how up your sleeves. Those old film canisters done need to go to waste, with a little work you can turn them into tiny portable flashlights.

The instructions were put together by Instructables user Cats Science Club, and it’s a great project for even beginners to the DIY world.

All you need to get started is some hot glue, a 3-volt battery, a small round magnet, 2 different colored wires about five-inches long, a drill, some electrical tape, hot glue, an LED, an LED holder, a toggle switch, wire cutters and, of course, a film canister.


First, hot glue the magnet into the bottom of the canister. This is so that you can attach the light to a metal surface and have it stay upright on its own. Then, you’ll have to strip about 1/4-inch of insulation off each wire, and attach one to either side of the battery using electrical tape.


Once you’ve done this, cut the negative wire in half and set the extra bit of wire aside. Now it’s time to connect up the switch.

The negative wire coming from the battery will attach to the outside prong, and the extra negative wire will attach to the middle prong (she soldered them, but if you don’t want to solder you can wrap the wires on and then use electrical tape or heat shrink tubing to keep them in place).


Next, take the LED and attach the negative wire from the switch to the negative prong on the light (usually the shorter of the two). Then attach the positive wire from the battery, to the positive prong on the LED. Again, you can solder the wires on if you’re up to the task, but beginners may prefer to use electrical tape or heat shrink tubing.

Toggling the switch should now turn the light on and off:


And that’s the end of the hard part. All that’s left is to drill the holes into the side and cap of the canister for the switch and LED, respectively. Insert the LED holder into the hole in the lid, place the battery and switch inside the canister, and put the LED in the holder from the inside.



That’s it! You can hot glue everything inside to keep things tidy, but you should now have a working film canister flashlight that has the added benefit of attaching to any metal surface thanks to the magnet in the base.


For the full flashlight tutorial — complete with a lot more detail and many more pictures — head over to Instructables by clicking here.

(via Lifehacker)

Image credits: Photographs by Cats Science Club.

  • tttulio

    why, why and why?

  • Jason Philbrook

    Might be fun, but don’t go flying with it.

  • Shane

    my Aunty Isla got Audi RS 5 Coupe by working parttime at home online… their website


  • korman

    Any of the Chinese keychain flashlights are smaller and cheaper than this contraption.

  • ACEkin

    Come ON! The new craze, DIY of things that don’t make sense at all, is crazy.

  • SuperFly

    What a waste of time.

  • Bill

    Shane, get a life and stop wasting time and space selling your worthless wares and SPAM links on here.

    Shame on you, you turd!

  • Bill

    When I saw the title for this, I thought there had to be more to it, but No.

    I 1st read the title and was saying to myself, “Why wouldn’t you just go buy a cheap led flashlight?”
    The only thing I can see the purpose of this is if you were stranded in the middle of nowhere and had a box of spare electrical and electronic parts and needed a way to signal for help.

  • harumph

    Haven’t you heard? There are no more flashlights. They’re all gone. We all have to make our own from now on.

  • Jason

    Or you can simply use the ultra bright torch from your smartphone. w!

  • PassingBy

    Every other cigaret lighter has a LED light. If you don’t need a lighter, just ask a friend not to throw the next empty one away, and give it to you instead. Take the light component out (comes complete with three button batteries).
    You can put about ten of those in one film canister…

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  • juicerworldhq

    Dollar store flash lights, easier and cheaper than going out to find all this stuff and putting it together. This is an incredible time-waster.

  • Mike Taylor

    I think this is just silly. Why not just go to the market and grab a dozen for 15$ and be done with it?