Tin Can Flashlight

I just had my first intro to fabrication class, with Ben light, who introduce us to some of the machines and tools that we have at the ITP shop. We drilled some holes in wood using different drill bits, i was really impressed with the Forstner bits, which drills click holes in wood, it gives the work really nice finish. Ben’s story about him making a flashlight to his grandmother, which helped her use her lock keys was really moving, especially when he used the story to explain how every piece that we will make have a lot of meaning because we spend so much time thinking about the piece and who’s going to use it. I decided to build a flashlight to my brother. He’s in the army now in Israel, and part of buying an Israeli soldier is to take a lot of Tuna fish tin cans when you go to train in the field. I decided to make a first tryout. I used a hand drill and started with a small standard bits.



In order to get the lid off the can, but keep it closed, I used side can opener that I got from Ben after asking him whats the best way to get this result. The side can opener really cool and works well, by cutting the lid in perfect distance from the tin itself .



After the first tryout It looks like putting a switch in the side of the can can looks good and also be easy to hold the can and switching on and off, so I continued with my tryouts and got few different tin cans in order to check if I should use the ones that pens easily or the ones that you need to open with an opener and how easy is it to operate.

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I took Danielle’s advice and drilled the new cans with the drill press. I started with a really small drill bit and continued with a larger one, in order to fit the hole to the switch diameter.




In one of the boxes I tried to go straight with the bigger bit- and it really ruined the hole, it was too much for this thin metal..


After using properly the bits, the holes turn out to be really well.


I found that this size was the best size to use for my switch: 7/32.


After making holes in all of the three boxes, I started to build the circuit, which is a very simple one: on/off switch, 9v battery, 220 ohm resistor and white LED.


This is the tin with the switch and the lid back on:


I ended up using a simpler switch from the one I had, thanks to Leon, then I put all the components inside:

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I think it turns out to be cute little flashlight, I will try next the tin box that needed to be opened with a simple box opener.

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After putting a lot of pressure in order to open the lid, it broke from the can, which means – using the easy opening lid boxes.


I had only one box for this test, so Im going to super-glue the lid to the box, so when I’ll open the easy opening lid, there is no way it will pop up…This is the can with the glue and easy opening lid..

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The final test was good and the can lid was very secured with the glue. It also not so visible, but I can try to make it better for the next version.

1 comment.

  1. Great work. I really like the story behind the object. Glad you tried on a bunch of cans to get your best results.

    And yes, starting with small bits first to cut a big hole in thin metal is a good idea.

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