How to Make a Lighting Fixture Out of Mason Jars

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Learn how to make mason jar pendant lights compatible with a track light system for an industrial modern lighting update.

Mason jars make for rustic-modern pendant lights.
Mason jars make for rustic-modern pendant lights. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Things You'll Need:

  • Non-contact voltage tester
  • Track for track lighting (compatible with pendants)
  • Screwdriver
  • Track pendant fitters
  • Box cutter
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Mason jars and rings, old lids
  • Drill and 1/8th-inch drill bit
  • Metal cutters
  • 40 watt candelabra based bulbs, 3

Getting Started

To give an outdated track system a modern update, all you have to do is swap out the track heads for hanging pendant fittings. If the pendant fittings aren’t compatible with the older track mount, it’s simple to replace the entire system in a few extra steps for an updated look and feel.

Before starting, turn off the power to the lighting track by switching off the associated breaker on your home’s breaker box and testing the circuit with a non-contact voltage tester to ensure that all power to the circuit is off.

Old track lights can be repurposed for use in other areas of the home like a garage or basement.
Old track lights can be repurposed for use in other areas of the home like a garage or basement. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step One

If updating an older system, remove the individual track fittings before dismantling the mounted track. The track should come loose by unscrewing it from the ceiling. Then carefully disconnect the wires at the light source.

Disconnecting the track mount provides access to the electrical source.
Disconnecting the track mount provides access to the electrical source. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Two

To install a new track compatible with pendants, first reconnect the electric wires at the light source. Then mount the track back along the ceiling, starting with the screws at the power end.

Most track covers are large enough to cover the existing electrical ceiling hole from traditional fixtures.
Most track covers are large enough to cover the existing electrical ceiling hole from traditional fixtures. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Three

Before installing the new pendants for the track, customize them for appropriate hanging length (if they need adjusting).

Tip: If the pendant kit came with lights in your desired length, you can skip the following wire-cutting steps and start with the shade instructions.

Most pendant fittings will come prefabricated in a standard length, ready for use.
Most pendant fittings will come prefabricated in a standard length, ready for use. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Four

To customize the length to work in your space, measure the ideal hanging length from the track, then cut the pendant cable (measuring from the pendant back up) using a pair of wire cutters.

Electrical pliers or diagonals work best when cutting wire.
Electrical pliers or diagonals work best when cutting wire. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Five

To refit the track connector to the end of the cut pendant, first disassemble the excess cut cable from the track connector by unscrewing the connector base and pulling the inside components free.

Tip: take pictures while disassembling the connector, which will help when putting it back together.
Tip: take pictures while disassembling the connector, which will help when putting it back together. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Six

Unscrew the existing wires from the connector, remove the strain relief and discard the excess cable.

Tip: Eyeglass screwdrivers can work on small screws if you do not have ready access to a standard small screwdriver.
Tip: Eyeglass screwdrivers can work on small screws if you do not have ready access to a standard small screwdriver. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Seven

Now working with the pendant portion, use a box cutter to strip the cable to expose the wires at the tip, being careful not to nick the wires inside. Use wire strippers to expose the copper wires at the tips of each exposed wire.

For tougher insulation on fixture wire, box cutters work best.
For tougher insulation on fixture wire, box cutters work best. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Eight

Refit the track connector onto the pendant in the same order you disassembled it from the excess cable. First slip the connector base onto the cable, followed by screwing the strain relief back onto the cable at the point where the original sheath was stripped.

Make sure to reassemble each piece in the opposite order it was taken apart in.
Make sure to reassemble each piece in the opposite order it was taken apart in. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Nine

Reattach the wires to the connector just as they were connected before, along the line (black), neutral (white) and ground lines (green). Pull the connector base back up over the inside components, and you’re ready to make the mason jar shade.

Pair a standard pendant light kit with a mason jar as the shade.
Pair a standard pendant light kit with a mason jar as the shade. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Ten

Remove the lock nut from the pendant, and trace it onto the center of the mason jar lid. This will mark where the pendant will attach to the top of the jar.

Make sure to trace the lock nut onto the center of the lid.
Make sure to trace the lock nut onto the center of the lid. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Eleven

Next, use a power drill to puncture holes along the entire circumference of the marked circle. Drilling holes will create a guide and make it easier to cut a hole into the jar lid.

Tip: Drilling the lid while attached to the jar helps catch any metal shards from the drill bit for easy disposal.
Tip: Drilling the lid while attached to the jar helps catch any metal shards from the drill bit for easy disposal. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Twelve

Using metal cutters, snip away the circle, revealing an opening in the jar lid to fit the pendant socket into.

Use caution or wear protective gloves when removing the snipped metal, as it is sharp.
Use caution or wear protective gloves when removing the snipped metal, as it is sharp. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Thirteen

Insert the pendant socket into the top of the jar lid. Remove the ring and lid from the jar, but not from the cord of the light. Invert the lid and slide the reducing washer that came with the pendant kit (looks like a big washer) onto the socket. Twist the lock nut over the socket and reducing washer tightly to secure.

Tip: The reducing washer gives the socket a place to clamp onto if the lid hole were to be too big.

Lightly tighten the lock nut, while centering the jar lid.
Lightly tighten the lock nut, while centering the jar lid. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Fourteen

Twist the lid onto the jar and drill four vent holes around the outside of the pendant fitting, which will allow heat dissipation for the lamp.

Discard any metal shards that may fall into the jar after drilling.
Discard any metal shards that may fall into the jar after drilling. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Fifteen

Remove the ring and lid to access the bulb socket. Twist the bulb into the socket, reattach the jar lid and it’s ready to insert along the mounted track system.

Wipe the inside of the jar and bulb to remove fingerprints just before twisting together.
Wipe the inside of the jar and bulb to remove fingerprints just before twisting together. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Step Sixteen

When inserted and styled, turn the breaker power back on, and marvel at the new rustic-modern mood lighting gracing your space!

Edison style light bulbs give off an industrial feel when paired with the mason jar light shades.
Edison style light bulbs give off an industrial feel when paired with the mason jar light shades. (Image: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)
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