Four Creative Ways to Repurpose Tin Cans

 Written by Stacy Karen of A Delightful Home.

Cans are something many of us use every week. I, for one, usually keep lots of canned coconut milk on hand to make my favorite chocolate coconut drink.

I hate to throw all these cans in the trash.

Thankfully, there are lots of creative (and useful) ways to repurpose metal cans.

Read on for four simple projects that make good use of cans that would otherwise find their way into the garbage or recycling bin.

 1. Make a Twig Flower Vase

I like a little rustic style in my home and this twig vase certainly fits the bill.

Materials needed:

  • 1 tin can
  • measuring tape
  • twigs cut an inch or two higher than the top of your can
  • hot glue gun and a few glue sticks
  • brown paper (I used an old grocery sack) or spray paint

How to make it:

Clean and dry the can, then measure it’s height and circumference.

Add a 1/4 inch to the height and use these measurements to cut the brown paper to size. You should end up with a long rectangle.

Hot glue the paper to the can. The paper should come just above the top rim of the can.

The purpose of the paper is to cover the can so it doesn’t show through the twigs. Instead of paper, the can could be painted with brown paint.

Apply a line of hot glue from the bottom of the can to the top. Press one twig onto the glue to affix securely.

Continue adding lines of glue and twigs until the can is completely covered.

If you use paper to cover the can, fill with dried flowers or place a small cup with a little water inside the can for fresh flowers.

This tutorial is based on one I found at MarthaStewart.com.

2. Make a Paper Covered Pencil Holder

This project only takes a few minutes. Simply measure the height of the can, measuring between the top and bottom rim if you would like to leave them exposed (as in the picture above). Also measure the circumference.

Use these measurements to cut a long rectangle out of scrapbook paper.

Apply modpodge to the entire can.

Place paper on to mod-podged can and smooth.

Apply modpodge to the paper and let dry. Once dry, apply another layer of modpodge.

Once dry, the can is ready for use.

3. Organize Drawers and Cabinets

Regular-sized tin cans work very well in deep drawers. I found them to be a perfect fit for my kid’s bathroom drawer that was getting a little out of control.

Cans are also excellent for storing art and craft supplies.

Here are some great examples of organizing with cans:

  4. Make a Candle Holder/Lantern

This is a project my older kids were excited about. They needed a little help, but with some guidance could do most of it on their own.

Materials needed:

  • tin can
  • hammer
  • large nail
  • water
  • towel
  • spray paint, optional

How to make it:

Clean cans and fill with water.

Place cans in freezer for at least 24 hours.

Once water has frozen solid, you are ready to start making holes. The frozen water stops the can from becoming dented.

If you do not wish to make a free form design, draw an outline to follow. Pencil worked fine for me, but my kids easily wiped it off when making holes. Use a marker, if desired, just remember that the ink may show if you are not going to apply paint at the end.

Lay can on a towel and use the hammer and nail to make holes.

Once holes are made, place can in a sink and wait for the water to melt.

Dry can, being careful, as the back of the holes on the inside of the can are sharp.

Paint can, if desired.

Place tea-light candle inside and light. Can will become quite hot, so don’t hold can with bare hands.

To make the candle more secure, drip a little wax into the bottom of the can and immediately place candle on top of it. This will stop the candle from sliding around.

Here is another simple way to make a lantern out of a coffee can.

Other fun ways to use repurpose tin cans:

Do you use a lot of  canned goods? Do you have any fun suggestions for repurposing tin cans?

20 Comments

  1. Anna@The DIY Mom

    We by tomato paste and canned beans in really large cans and I reuse them to hold used cloth kitchen rags and towels until I am ready to do a load of wash. Then when I get a new one or one gets too gross I can just toss it out and replace it.

    • Stacy

      That’s a great idea!

  2. Heather

    I love the lantern idea! We don’t have a lot of cans in our house anymore, but I do sometimes get coconut milk for curry. What a great way to repurpose!

    • Stacy

      I like the lantern’s, too. They look really pretty painted as well.

  3. Jami

    When I was a kid, we made pencil holders out of cans too. Instead of paper we used colorful yarn scraps and white glue. Lots of fun and pretty too. You can use the same concept to make a glasses holder, just add a soft layer from an old t-shirt or rag on the inside, and put it next to the bed of a little one who wears glasses.

    • Stacy

      I love this idea, Jami. I think my kids would really enjoy decorating cans with yarn scraps.

      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Mackenzie

    The twig flower vase is awesome! What a great idea 🙂

    • Stacy

      I love it, too. (I didn’t think of it myself.) It was fun to make. I feel very accomplished whenever I look at it 🙂

  5. Laura Black

    Those are some very fun ideas. I love the twig vase and the candle holder. I’m already thinking of some design ideas and colors I want to use. Thanks for getting my creative juices flowing!

    • Stacy

      Glad it got you thinking. It’s fun to come up with creative ways to repurpose things.

  6. Nicole

    Great ideas!! I’m definitely making the twig vase. 🙂

    • Stacy

      I hope you do make the twig vase. It’s easy and looks so cool. I love mine 🙂

  7. Steph R

    Love this! Especially the twig flower holder. Going to have to collect some twigs to make one!

    • Stacy

      I hope you can find some good twigs. I had my son hunting for them. It took a little while, but we finally found some good ones.

  8. Emily @ Random Recycling

    Not super exciting, but I use them to store bacon fat.
    I also use them to cut out biscuits, they are just the right size!

    • Stacy

      Oh yes, I forgot biscuits. Tin cans are perfect for those!

  9. Aubrey

    I actually made tin can lanterns for Christmas gifts this year, super cute and I only had to buy tealights! I also have covered them with contact paper and put foam on the inside to make “quiet” pencil cups in my classroom.

    • Stacy

      I like this quiet pencil cup idea. Very clever!

  10. Krissa

    Such great ideas! I love the twig vase and the lanterns…will have to add those to my to-do list. 🙂

  11. ellen

    hmmmmm

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