Even (maybe even especially) when you are strapped for cash, you probably stock up on canned foods every month. Canned foods are cheap, they don’t go bad, and you can use them for all kinds of recipes. What do you do with the cans when you are done cooking, though? You probably throw them right into the recycling bin. Maybe you wait a while to accumulate a bunch before you chuck them out, or maybe you toss them every week. Either way, you are parting ways with a valuable craft supply.
Seriously, you are just not going to believe all of the things you can create using tin cans and other simple and cheap craft supplies! I first fell in love with the idea of converting tin cans into household décor when I saw some gorgeous tin can wind chimes (which I’ll be sharing with you later in the post). But then I ran a few searches online and I stumbled across a ton of equally amazing ideas.
These projects don’t stop at decorative items either. Some of them are useful, like toys for your kids, vases for plants, or lights. There is even a project for a working camera that you can shoot real pictures with—made out of a tin can! How completely awesome is that?
While a lot of these projects are clearly identifiable as tin can crafts, with a surprising number of them, you can’t actually tell. I think that’s very cool, but the projects that look like tin cans are quite awesome in their own quirky way as well. Personally I like crafts like that, where people can look and be like, “Wow, I can’t believe you did that with a tin can. That’s amazing!”
Anyway, enough with my “That’s amazing!” talk. Check it out for yourself. Here are 50 incredible tin can recycling projects that will blow your mind! I can’t wait to try these projects for myself, and I know you’ll be just as excited to do some of these yourself!
Build a Tin Can Camera
DIY Instructions & Source: youtube
Tin Can Snowman for the Holidays
Looking for an easy and fun craft to do over the holidays? This snowman is incredibly cute, and he looks very easy to make! You just paint a few tin cans white and stack them up one on top of the other, and then add the buttons and other embellishments. This I imagine would be a fun project to do with the kids.
DIY Instructions & Source: practicallyfunctional
Play a Cute Tin Can Bowling Game with Your Kids
Here is a bowling game with a tin cans painted with a Halloween theme. You could easily customize this game any way you chose and pick any theme you wanted. Have fun painting the cans with your kids, and then have fun playing the game. This is a great idea because even after the craft is done, you can play the game forever.
DIY Instructions & Source: redtedart
Adorable Tin Can Robot Dog
When I saw this tin can robot dog, the Doctor Who fan in me immediately thought of K-9. As you can see, he’s even got little wheels attached so that you can pull him along. This is a really awesome craft and shows you can design pretty much anything out of tin cans!
DIY Instructions & Source: marthastewart
Tin Can Spring Planters with Burlap and Lace
These planters are amazing, and look how simple they are. They are just simple tin cans with a coat of paint and some burlap and lace. The burlap and the rough paint job make for a rustic look which is very charming. You could do these in any color, but the light blue looks beautiful!
DIY Instructions & Source: sowanddipity
These Tin Can Centerpieces Will Spruce Up Your Wedding Table
Rustic weddings are all the rage these days, and it is easy to see why. They have this wonderfully old-fashioned charm to them which is just undeniably romantic. A rustic theme is also very DIY-friendly, which translates to budget-friendly as well. If you are looking for a simple centerpiece idea for a rustic wedding, these tin cans full of flowers make an excellent choice. They’d be very easy and fast to set up!
Hanging Decorative Tin Cans for Plants and More
These hanging decorative tin cans have a beautiful design! I like that they have a weathered, antiquated look to them. The little leaves at the tops are a great little accent, and they work perfectly with the leaf and flower designs on the cans. These would make great planters. Be sure to check out the rest of the crafter’s gallery on DA for more outstanding work.
DIY Instructions & Source: catshome
Real Working Speakers Made Out of Old Tin Cans
It’s hard to imagine they don’t sound … well, tinny, but these tin can speakers definitely look amazing. Unfortunately the original site where this project was first posted appears to be down, but the creator’s ingenuity is praiseworthy!
DIY Instructions & Source: wired
Use Tin Cans to Bake Little Cakes
Don’t have a cake pan, but want to bake a cake? You can actually grease and flour the inside of several tin cans instead. You fill them just over half-full with cake batter and bake them for around 25 minutes on 325 degrees (the exact time and temperature settings may depend on your particular oven). As with baking in a standard cake pan, you can poke a toothpick into the center of each to check if they are done. Wait for them to cool, and then tip the cans upside-down so that the cakes fall out. These cakes have been carefully cut and layered with frosting. They look delicious!
DIY Instructions & Source: ohhappyday
Another Idea for a Simple and Beautiful Tin Can Wind Chime
Most of the wind chimes I have seen made out of tin cans are made out of the cans themselves. This idea uses the lids instead. All of them have been patterned with lovely designs. Another fun and beautiful project!
DIY Instructions & Source: hemgjord
Make a Tin Can Scarecrow to Go With Your Tin Man
If you enjoyed the tin man project I shared earlier in the list, you will definitely want to give him a pal to hang out with, and who better than a scarecrow? Like the tin man, he’s been made entirely out of tin cans which have been painted so that he appears to be wearing overalls. A hat and a bandana, some gloves and shoes complete the ensemble. Isn’t he just amazing?
DIY Instructions & Source: craftyimaginings
Ornately Designed Hanging Lanterns with Gorgeous Designs
More hanging lanterns? I can’t help myself, there are just so many cool designs out there, and these are some of my favorites yet! The artist really went all-out with these patterns, covering each tin can in its entirety. The geometric designs are really eye-catching.
DIY Instructions & Source: homedzine
Retro-Futurist Tin Can Robot
You’ve seen how you can use tin cans to make a tin man, a scarecrow, and even a little robotic dog. Now you can make them into a robot that looks like he (she?) walked straight off of the set of a 1950s sci-fi flick. A very cute project that looks surprisingly easy to reproduce.
DIY Instructions & Source: thriftyfun
Beautiful Vintage Upcycled Tin Can Holder for Craft Supplies and More
The beauty of this upcycled tin can is just unbelievable! The artist has gone to quite some lengths to give it an antiquated look. I’m not sure if those are fake flowers or dried ones, but together with the weathered old paper and old-fashioned typeface, they have an entrancing effect. Here it appears to be holding craft supplies, but you could use it for anything. There is a full tutorial! Be sure to check out the rest of Anne’s blog to see more incredible paper crafts.
DIY Instructions & Source: annespaperfun-aksh
Beautiful Upcycled Tin Cans with Lids
While the upcycled tin can above has a timeworn look about it, these upgraded tin cans have a beautiful shine. Nonetheless, their appearance is still definitely quite vintage. I am loving the pale pinks and the delicate designs. They would add a feminine touch to any home.
Real Working Tin Can Desk Lamp
The trick to doing this project is simply to purchase an existing desk lamp for a few dollars. Once you’ve done that, you can remove the shade that the lamp came with and install a tin can in its place. While this is quite a simple idea, I have to admit that the final result looks totally awesome. And if I didn’t know any better, I’d think that this entire lamp was custom assembled from scratch. It’s a cool project with an industrial vibe, and one that would doubtless get a lot of compliments. Definitely check out the rest of her blog too, there is a lot of cool stuff.
DIY Instructions & Source: thosenorthernskies
Quirky Crushed Tin Can Planters
Speaking of an industrial feel, these crushed tin can planters are awesome! This is yet another simple idea perfectly executed. The effect is very much like modern art. I imagine the challenge is to make sure that it looks deliberate. The key to making it work may be the paint, which is flawless.
DIY Instructions & Source: cfabbridesigns
Indoor Herb Garden Tin Can Planters
If you want to grow an indoor herb garden, this is a unique way to do it. Buy one of these room divider screens and set it up, and you have a ready-made grid which you can use to place the tin can planters. They have been painted with the same color as the wood so that the whole ensemble looks like it was made for this purpose. It is pretty and functional.
DIY Instructions & Source: anestforallseasons
Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly a replacement for your Christmas tree. But it is a fun craft to do with your kids. You just paint the tin cans green, and then pick up pom poms and pipe cleaners and little bows (or whatever else you want to use). Let your kids decorate the “tree” any way they want. It’s not bad practice for decorating the real tree, and you can display their cute creation all through the holidays!
DIY Instructions & Source: babbledabbledo
Make Cute Tin Can Lawn Critters
These have to be the cutest lawn ornaments I’ve ever seen. As you can see, they are just basic painted tin cans with little eyes and colored floral wire for wings. At the link you will find a full list of supplies along with a tutorial. This would be loads of fun to do with your children!
DIY Instructions & Source: www.myveryeducatedmother
Make DIY Floral Container Covers for Tin Cans
Like a number of the projects here, this one is to cover a tin can with scrapbook paper in order to spruce it up for a flower arrangement (or whatever else you wish to use it for). I particularly recommend checking out this project because the tutorial is excellent, and walks you through the process step by step. So even if you are a total newbie to this type of craft, you will know exactly what to do.
DIY Instructions & Source: weddingchicks
Make Tin Can Pedestals for Candles
This tutorial will teach you how you can make tin cans into fancy pedestals for candles. You will learn how you can buy or make stencils which you can use to paint letters or designs onto your tin cans. The finished pedestals look really cool!
DIY Instructions & Source: frugal-interior-design
Make Amazing Tin Can Containers with Teacups for Lids
A lot of tin can projects try to disguise the cans with paint, paper, or fabric to conceal the metal. But the metal itself can look really great. This project for tin can containers does not attempt to conceal the tin. In fact, it uses the tin to its fullest aesthetic advantage. Simple metallic embellishments have been added to the tins (those coins on the tin in the lower left-hand corner are awesome!). The lids are teacups! The finished result is obviously tin, but these containers make you think of fancy dishware and not of tin cans.
DIY Instructions & Source: sjarmerende-gjenbruk
Tin Can Votive Candles
Punching holes in tin cans is a great way to create pictures and designs. These are relatively simple designs which are perfect for the winter holidays. You could of course use this idea to create any images you wanted. Votive cans are a popular gift for the holidays, so I am liking the Christmas tree and the snowflake. What a great idea for easy, fun, eco-friendly gift-giving this year!
DIY Instructions & Source: rachaelraymag
I hope you found these 50 tin can projects as inspiring as I did! I am so excited to try the projects on this list—I have a couple planned for the next week, and a long list to try over the course of the year. No more throwing away tin cans—I’m salvaging them all! If you try any of these projects, be sure to share your results with us in the comments below! I can’t wait to see what you do! Be sure to point us all toward any other great projects you know of that I may have missed as well!