Wednesday, December 5, 2007

How to make a Chanukah menorah (chanukiyah) from a foil pan

Caught without a menorah for Chanukah? Here's a way to make one with one foil pan, some chanukah candles, and a scissors. No other tools are necessary

While this is not an activity for children (the foil's sharp edges can cut skin), or an heirloom-quality craft, it might be useful when stuck in a hotel room on Chanukah due to a cancelled flight, for a hostess to make a few extra chanukiyot when faced with an unexpected crowd, or just to have a McGyver moment.

One of these can be made in about five minutes. Beware that a few candles are likely to be break during the making of this project. If you don't have enough candles to sacrifice a few extras, then substitute a pen or pencil for the candles in these instructions

I've made and used a few of these, and the candles were held securely. It's always a good idea to melt the bottoms of the candles a bit to help them stay upright. (Please use your judgment before playing with fire: Never leave fire unattended. Don't put the menorah directly on a flammable surface. Stop hitting your sister. Now go clean your room.)

STEP 1. I start with a half-size steam-table pan. In the U.S., these are sold at Costco for about 26 cents a piece, in 30-quantity. A larger pan would work, but a smaller pan is unlikely to yield enough space between the candles, or enough foil to hold them well.

STEP 2: Most pans have ridges along the sides. I used these as a guide to cut eight strips (still attached to the bottom of the pan) from the straight part of the side of the pan.

These cuts should be roughly evenly distributed, such that the eight strips are approximately the same width.

Cut off and discard the curved side edges adjacent to the eight strips.

STEP 3: Cut off and discard the two shorter sides of the pan, keeping the entire bottom of the pan. The bottom will be wider than the part with the eight strips (because of the discarded curved part from that piece.)

This is desirable, because it gives extra foil for folding the edges. Unfolded edges can cut skin, so we want all the edges on the finished menorah to be folded.

STEP 4: Fold the strips in toward the bottom of the pan, along their natural crease.

STEP 5: Fold each of the strips back over itself, toward (what was) the outside of the pan. The result should be a strip folded in half that stands upright.

STEP 6: Fold the upright half in half, so that it has a folded edge on top, and is a quarter of the size of the entire strip.

STEP 7: Using a candle as a guide, wrap the folded quarter of foil around the candle to form a candle-sized holder.

It will seem a bit flimsy at this point, but don't worry; when the rest of the folds are made, it will be more secure.
Repeat this for all of the eight strips.

STEP 8: Fold the edge to the candle holders. The result is a reinforced edge one half the width of the original distance between the edge and the candle holders.

STEP 9: Lift up the folded edge, folding it to touch the candle holders. This folded edge will give stability to the line of candles, and keep them vertical.

STEP 10: Fold (what was) the foil pan's bottom in half lengthwise, toward the candle holders.

The half of the pan closest to the line of candles will be the bottom of the menorah.

The half of the pan furthest from the line of candles will be the back of the menorah.

STEP 11: At this lengthwise fold, use a scissors to make a cut (parallel to the line of candle holders) on either side of the menorah, the width of the extra foil (mentioned in STEP 3).

The goal is to make a folded edge on the sides, to avoid sharp edges in the final product. The cuts allow the bottom of the menorah and the back of the menorah to have this edge folded more easily.

Fold the extra foil on the sides of the menorah's bottom towards the bottom of the menorah.

STEP 12: Cut away all but one double-width strip from the other/remaining side of the foil pan. This is going to become the candle holder for the shamash. (Hereafter referred to as the "shamash strip".)

STEP 13: Fold the back of the menorah in half, toward the inside-bottom of the menorah. This will result in menorah back that is one-quarter the width of the original pan's bottom, with a folded edge on top.

As you do this, keep the shamash strip available for folding; prevent it from getting folded in between the folds that compose the back of the menorah.

STEP 14: Fold the shamash strip in half toward the edge where the back of the menorah meets its bottom.

STEP 15: Unfold the back, and cut away one quarter of the width of the shamash strip on either side of its inner half. The result will be a shamash strip in a T-shape. The trunk of the T will be half the width of the top of the T.

(I'm holding it upside-down in the picture below.)

STEP 16: Refold the back and shamash strip to the configuration at the end of STEP 14.

(This picture is of top view.)

STEP 17: Fold the shamash strip toward the back, so that the top of its T shape stands upright and perpendicular to the surface of the bottom of the menorah. The trunk of the T shape will still be against the bottom of the menorah.

STEP 18: Fold the top of the T in half, and wrap this folded part around a candle.

STEP 19: Lift the T-trunk up, raising the candle holder for the shamash. Fold its bottom to secure.
STEP 20: Fold over the edges of the back, toward the back of the menorah.

Voila! You're done!

BONUS STEP: If you have a glue gun and a pencil, you can make a quick embellishment from one of the discarded pieces of foil. Be careful, as it has sharp, unfolded edges.

I wrote out the word "Chanukah" in Hebrew, using the edge of the foil pan upside-down, such that its rim was a straight edge to support the result.

Cut away the excess and use a glue gun to attach to the top of the menorah.

Here's wishing a Happy Hanukkah to everyone!

3 comments, so far. Add yours now!

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Anonymous said...

You are amazing. I just stumbled upon your website and major props to you. A total inspiration!!!

Anonymous said...

Loved the idea :) I'm going to build one with my kids next Hanukkah...

Adding this link For those who wants to see a few more Menorahs

Anonymous said...

Todah rabbah! Just what I needed, as I do find myself with all my Chanukah gear 300 miles away!(well, except for some candles I found :D)

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