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Weekend Workshop: Build an old-school lightbulb from pencil lead and a jar

Need something to keep you busy this weekend? We’ve got you covered. The Weekend Workshop is our weekly column in which we showcase a badass DIY project that you can complete with minimal skills and expertise. We’ve dug through all the online tutorials and gone the extra mile to pinpoint projects that are equal parts easy, affordable, and fun. So put on your work pants, grab your tool belt, and head to the garage. It’s time to start building!

In the late 1800s, as Thomas Edison’s light bulb was sweeping the nation, electricity as a utility was widely cherished — and for good reason. Today, it’s just one part of an abundance of modern day utilities taken for granted. Having the ability to waltz into your local Home Depot and grab a LED light bulb off a shelf would be incomprehensible just 100 years ago.

So this weekend, instead of merely purchasing one, why not try to fashion your own light bulb out of a few ordinary items? Thanks to a sharp engineer on Instructables known as sathyanc, building your own electric light bulb shouldn’t take more than an hour. Using little else in terms of materials than a glass Mason jar, eight D-cell batteries, and a graphite pencil needle, this innovative light bulb is not only easy to build, but wildly novel.

To help you get started, we’ve sifted through sathyanc’s step-by-step walkthrough to find an exact build list for the project. Thankfully, they also posted a video detailing how to put together this DIY light bulb, so if reading isn’t your thing, you’re in luck. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Tools:

  • Alligator clips
  • Graphite pencil needle (0.5mm)
  • Cello tape

Materials:

  • Small support material
  • D batteries (8)
  • Glass Mason jar
  • Supply power adapter (optional if not using 8 D batteries)

With all the necessary tools and materials at the ready, it’s now time to start piecing together this homemade electric light bulb. Simply follow sathyanc’s comprehensive walkthrough and before you know it, you’ll be the proud owner of a DIY bulb that Edison himself would envy. Happy building!