10 Clever Uses for Old Tin Cans

Photo (cc) by auntjojo

Americans use enough steel and tin cans in one day to build a pipe that could stretch from Los Angeles to New York and back, according to Boston College.

That’s also enough cans for do-it-yourself projects that will keep you or the kids busy through the holidays.

We’ve rounded up tutorials for some of the most inexpensive but useful ways to give old tin cans new purpose.

1. Lighting

Photo: Grow Creative / www.growcreativeblog.com
Photo: Grow Creative / www.growcreativeblog.com

Artist Elise Engh of the blog Grow Creative turned several sizes of tin cans into lanterns with little more than spray paint and bailing wire for handles.

While Engh uses her lanterns outdoors with tea-light candles, electric candles could make this lantern safe for indoor use.

2. Planter

Photo: Design Sponge / www.designsponge.com
Photo: Design Sponge / www.designsponge.com

When New York floral designer Amy Merrick brought home new Rex begonia plants only to realize she had no empty terracotta pots, she turned to antique tin cans she had purchased from thrift stores.

She left the coffee and peanut logos on the exterior of the cans intact, writing in the blog Design Sponge:

“With a few holes popped in the bottom, they make adorable (and affordable) planters.”

3. Wine rack

Photo: Brit + Co / www.brit.co
Photo: Brit + Co / www.brit.co

A tutorial from the crafty company Brit + Co shows how coffee canisters can be used to make a wine rack. It takes little more than a can opener, spray paint and glue.

4. Spinning caddy

Photo: Cynthia Shaffer / cynthiashaffer.typepad.com
Photo: Cynthia Shaffer / cynthiashaffer.typepad.com

What’s more useful than a Lazy Susan turntable? A turntable topped with a multiple-tin-can caddy that at least doubles the amount of supplies the turntable can hold.

Artist Cynthia Shaffer’s tutorial shows how she puts hers to use storing craft supplies in her studio, but it could also store office supplies on a desk or small tools in a garage.

5. Miniature-cake pan

Photo: Oh Happy Day / ohhappyday.com
Photo: Oh Happy Day / ohhappyday.com

Event planner Jordan Ferney uses cans as pans to bake mini layered cakes — essentially a twist on the cupcake that’s likely to impress guests.

She writes in a tutorial on her party-oriented blog, Oh Happy Day, that it’s “really, really easy.”

6. Pin cushion

Photo: Design Sponge / www.designsponge.com
Photo: Design Sponge / www.designsponge.com

No sewing skills are necessary to turn a small tin can, like those that tuna comes in, into a pin cushion. The Design Sponge tutorial calls for double-stick tape and hot glue instead.

7. Hanging storage

Photo: Hi Sugarplum / www.hisugarplumsblog.com
Photo: Hi Sugarplum / www.hisugarplumsblog.com

When Cassie of the blog Hi Sugarplum overhauled her garage, she used old soup cans as hanging storage containers (for craft supplies like paintbrushes) on a pegboard wall organizing system. Just drill one hole and hang the can on a hook.

For more garage organizing tips, check out “5 Steps to a Perfectly Organized Garage.”

8. Bird feeder

Photo: Mom Endeavors / www.momendeavors.com
Photo: Mom Endeavors / www.momendeavors.com

Re-purpose paint cans as bird feeders for a project that’s simple enough that kids can help. Read the tutorial by Sara of Mom Endeavors.

9. Drum

Photo: A Beautiful Mess / www.abeautifulmess.com
Photo: A Beautiful Mess / www.abeautifulmess.com

Thoroughly decorated and topped with leather, the drums made by Katie Shelton of A Beautiful Mess barely resemble the old cans they’re made from. In fact, she suggests making them as a gift.

10. Stilts

Photo: One Creative Mommy / onecreativemommy.com
Photo: One Creative Mommy / onecreativemommy.com

This old-school toy provides a new kind of fun for today’s youth. Heidi of One Creative Mommy writes:

I love that this toy costs only a few dollars, but the whole neighborhood will be lining up to give them a try. It only took one trip around our street before kids were marching behind my daughter like she was the Pied Piper!

For more DIY projects that start with empty containers, check out “16 Handy Uses for Plastic Bottles and Jugs.”

What’s your favorite way to reuse tin cans? Share your ideas in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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