Homemade Flashlight, Part I

Our first fabrication assignment is to design and build a flashlight. This seems to be a “make it hard as you want” kind of project, so I’ll do what I can to try not to blow this out of proportion.


What is the key functionality of a flashlight? For the purposes of this exercise, I am defining the functional aspects of a flashlight as the following:

  • It must provide light.
  • The light must be controllable, as in it can be turned on or off.
  • There must be some directionality to to the light. Above, I sketched out a terrible version of a kerosene lantern, but I feel like they usually have some kind of hood to keep light out of your eyes.
  • The light source must be protected somehow either by glass or clear plastic.
  • The flashlight must be ergonomic.

From these functional objectives, I’ve developed a basic list of components:

  • Light source—lightbulb or wick in above precedents
  • Control—switch, toggle, or wick control knob
  • Focusing device—reflective chamber or hood
  • Translucent guard—glass or plastic surface
  • Handle—body of flashlight or attached handle


While considering my options for how to integrate these various elements into a single form, for no good reason at all I’ve also been considering how I might be able to work with glass for this project. Glass is a tough material to work with in that it is hard to cut, it’s incredibly rigid and brittle(hence the breaking and shattering) and it can’t really be glued to anything. In my hand I found recently a pretty good looking bottle of chinotto, an oft overlooked flavor of Italian soda that I can only describe as being like Coca-Cola, but way more bitter. The bottle itself, however, caught my eye for being of a great ergonomic form, it was translucent, and had an opening where I might be able to insert a light and power source.

This project has mostly been an act of improvisation, so we’ll see where this goes. More soon.

See other related flashlight posts here.


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