Issue 108
Copper Patio Torch

Shed some light!

In Garden Gate‘s November/December issue, we shared instructions for making your own copper patio torches. They’re sleek and cost much less than buying a ready-made set. Just click ahead for simple step-by-step photos to help you as you build!


At your local hardware store, pick up the items in the materials list below along with a medium-grit abrasive pad and a pipe cutter. An inexpensive pipe cutter will slice pieces to the right size, but be sure it can cut through pipe more than 1 inch in diameter.

The pipe (mounting post), air chamber (oil reservoir), reducers (base/cap) and bushing (wick holder) are shown here.

  • 5 ft. of ½-in. pipe (mounting post)
  • 2 1-in. to ½-in. reducers (base/cap)
  • ½ in. × 14 in. air chamber (oil reservoir)
  • ½ in. × 3/8 in. bushing (wick holder)
  • Replacement torch wicks
  • Epoxy
  • Water-based polyurethane spray
  • Patio torch oil

Fuel up

Cut off the open end off the air chamber. This will make the 12-in.-long oil reservoir. Just cinch down the length of pipe, like we did in the photo, and rotate the cutter.

Make it shine

If you’d like, add a brushed, shiny look to the oil reservoir (and other parts of the pipe) by rubbing a medium-grit abrasive pad across the copper surface. Then wipe away any residue with a clean cloth.

You can compare the sheen of the two reducers in the photo below — the one on the left was given a good rubbing.

Post in a snap

For the mounting post, we just used a 5-ft. length of ½-in. copper pipe, but yours can be any length you like. Connect the oil reservoir to the post with a reducer. Spread a small amount of epoxy inside the reducer, just like we did here, and then slip it on the post as a base that will hold the oil reservoir.

Protect the finish

Preserve the copper’s sheen by spraying a few coats of clear water-based polyurethane over the torch. Make sure it’s rated for outdoor use and has dried fully before continuing to the next step.

You can also leave it bare, and the copper will age, forming a patina.

Top it off

Make a cap for the oil reservoir using another reducer, but slip this one on without any epoxy so it’s easy to remove when you need to refill oil.

Slide the wick through the bushing so only ¼ to ½ in. of it is exposed. The bushing acts as a wick holder, keeping the right length of wick ready to light.

Fire it up

Here you can see how easy it is to lift off the cap and pour oil into the reservoir. Make sure there’s enough to saturate the wick before replacing the cap.

Kick back and enjoy!

Push your torches into the ground throughout your garden or around your patio, light them and relax. It’s time to enjoy your handiwork!