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How To: DnD Tavern Décor – Wood Beam Lanterns

My tavern walls are complete (find out how I did them here!) but now I needed some lighting that would be in keeping with the theme and what better than wood beam lanterns hanging over the game table?

With actual wood beam lanterns costing a small fortune (and the weight issue for ceilings) This is a way to get that look cheaper and being able to customise it exactly how you want!

Getting Started

Items used:

  • Foam board in the size of beam you want (I used 13 cms by 10 cms on the end to have a beam thickness, and then select the length that suits your room.)
  • Wood effect stick back plastic (Enough to cover you beam completely.)
  • big scissors and a craft knife.
  • 3mm plywood, cut into strips that cover the top and bottom of your beam.
  • Spray contact adhesive.
  • 2x eye bolts that are long enough to go through your beam to enable hanging from the ceiling.
  • 2x lightweight metal chains (I used some back hammered chains that were lightweight but looked the part.)
  • 2x screw hooks.
  • 4 way light flex (Luckily, we had one as we swapped out the one in the bedroom for a single flex, depending on the size of beam you are making you might want a two way flex for example.)
  • 4x solar powered lanterns (I found some in a garden centre that had a flickering candle as the light for £5 each, as long as you can extract all of the electronics and keep the frame then any style will work.)
  • 4x large antique style lightbulbs (these give off a warm glow to mimic candle light, and while they are not designed to illuminate a room on their own having four of them together provides ample light.)
  • Hacksaw, maybe… (I needed this to cut away the base of the lanterns where the fake candles screwed in, the plastic did snap off fine once the parts were thin enough it was just a pain!)

Foam Board Beam

Measure out the size of the base of the lantern, then measure in spaces in between, and then add some space at the end to get the length of the beam you need to cut out from your foam board. Do this before you buy it as there may be suitable scraps that you can use, as it will be sandwiched between two pieces of 3mm plywood.

The foam board being cut was the hardest part, I measured it out and then took a breadknife to it to cut it out. The edges weren’t completely straight but they were going to get covered anyway so it wasn’t a deal breaker.

Once you have your foam board, cut your ply down to size and spray contact adhesive on there, pressing it down onto the top length of your foam board beam. Repeat for the bottom and let it dry.

When dry I started on the wood effect. Cut a length that will cover the beam end to end, if it doesnt meet together it doesnt matter as that will be the side facing the ceiling (and unseen) and you can cut a strip to cover the gap. Also cut two pieces to cover the ends, leaving enough to wrap around all the sides so no foam board shows through.

Starting with the ends, make sure that the grain is going the same way on both bits. Peel the backing off and stick to the end with overhang all around.

Like wrapping a present, start with the overhang on the sides that the plywood is on (so top and bottom of beam) and fold the overhang up and press down to the plywood. The overhang should now make a angled ‘u’ on the sides that it isnt stuck down on where it goes around the corner of the beam.

Where the corners are, cut the overhand to make three flaps of plastic, take the middle one and fold that up so it sticks to the foam board. Then fold the other sides in, trimming if needed so they fit, and cover the bit thats on the foam board.

Once the ends are done, get that massive piece you cut for the entier length.

Enjoy a quick sketch of what to do!

Place your beam on the floor with the side you want the lanterns to hang from (ie: the bottom) facing up towards you. Peel the back from the plastic about 5 cms and line up the edge with the beam edge, centring it so that you have equal amounts to wrap around. Press this down while pulling back more of the backing paper, making sure that there are no creases occurring. You can use a shower squidgy (rubber thing to remove water) to press it down in a nice even line or just use anything longer than the width and straight.

Part two of how to cover the beam

Once done, flip it over, making sure you don’t catch the plastic on the floor and starting with the side furthest away from you pull it up and over onto the now exposed plywood, a bit like wrapping a present.(but where the paper doesnt meet in the middle!) making sure that there is even tension so that there isn’t any sagging bits or creases.

Turn it around so that the last overhang is away from you and repeat the process so that the sticky back plastic is all stuck down and there is proabably a gap running down the middle where it didn’t quite meet.

As this is the unseen part you could leave it there…

To finish it off completely, cut a strip that is the same length as the beam but not quite as wide and then line it up with the end and cover that gap, peeling away 5 cms of the backing paper at a time and smoothing it down as you go.

Now to just drill two holes for where your eye bolts will go though to allow the chains to be attached. You want them in between the lanterns at the end and the ones in the middle so that the chains are effectively holding up half the beam each as the weight will be evenly distributed.


This is probably the most fussy part and involved me using a hacksaw to cut out the base of the lantern properly. Depending on what style you go for, you might need to do this or you might be perfectly fine. My only advice here is try and get something that looks the part but is as light as possible. This is because unless you are screwing into a joist, plaster is only going to hold up so much, so the less weight we can add the better.

The lanterns I chose had glass panes in the plastic frames, so they needed to come out as they were absolutely unnecessary.

The lid on my lanterns needed to be pinged off to allow the glass to slide out. One side was held in by the screwed in clip that held the wire to the solar panel part but as we were losing tat as well I unscrewed and then cut the cable to get access to everything.

The outer edge was a seperate component to the bit of plastic housing the solar panel, and was easy enough to leverage off with a flat head screwdriver.

With the solar panel gone, you are left with a hole that the bulb fitting can go into and an extender ring ensures that it sits in the cover.

Make sure you remember to put the little square edge for the top back on as well and right about now I would remove any handles you have to make sure that they are not imbalanced when hanging.

With the base hacksawed out to get the base square and also prevent light from being blocked for no reason, this is what the end lantern looks like on the flex. I opted for some slightly bigger bulbs in there as well (mainly as the long ones were so expensive due to the style and also the ‘aesthetic’ tax that seems to be on these things right now)

Although hard to tell, these lanterns were already a brushed antique gold colour which saved me a job but they did come in silver or copper as alternative colours which would work equally well depending on your taste!

To finish this part up, once you have you lids but not the bases on, wrap the flex around the beam you made in the area where you want the lantern to hang. You want the cable fairly tight to also help take the weight of the beam and to avoid any of them unravelling off the end. I used a combination of staples and cable pins (the ones you use to tack cables to your skirting board) to secure the flex to the beam, making sure that they will hang centrally under it.

Once the flex is sorted, clip in you bases and then screw in your bulbs, adjusting the angle that the lanterns are at so they are all square on.

Final touches can be to colour the flex to make it more ‘rope’ like, I’m not mad about the black and white flex that we have here so I haven’t bothered to paint it (the ceiling being cream to match the ‘plaster’ on the walls is more of a priority!)

Once all this is done, you have a gorgeous wood beam lanterns to create a centrepiece in your DnD/Games room!

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