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How to make things from old cans: 6 projects

make things from old cans

We do not just throw cans in the trash – we turn them into fun things. See our upcycling tips on how to make things from old cans with our 6 great projects you can do with kids too!

The cans must be rinsed well and the bands and their adhesive remnants removed (except at the “outlet”). And more important: work carefully! It’s best to use a safety can opener like we do – then there’s no sharp edges.

Make things from old cans: magazine rack

This magazine rack is guaranteed to last a long time! How you can make it yourself, we tell you here.

You need:

  • several, big cans
  • Hot glue gun or
  • double-sided adhesive carpet tape
  • possibly corks
Tinker with old cans

How to do it:

  1. Removes the floors from all cans. Think about how you want to arrange the cans. Try a few trial arrangements by tacking them together with bluetac before you do the permanent gluing.
  2. Stick the cans together. Attention: Work in pairs and let an adult help you if you use the hot glue gun. The hot glue gun is called not that for no reason so … please be careful!
  3. If you like, you can glue four little feet of cork at the bottom to prevent scratching on wooden surfaces. Just put them in place and attach them with glue.

Make things from old cans: stamped containers

make things from old cans

You need:

  • Tin with lid
  • stamps
  • glue
  • gloss paint
  • brush

How to do it

  1. Place the stamps still sticking to the paper in a deep plate of lukewarm water. The stamps must be covered by water. Let them bathe for a few minutes – then you can easily remove them from the paper. Lay it on a towel for drying.
  2. Grab the can, smear it with glue on the outside and gradually press the stamps on it until the can is completely covered. Let it dry well.
  3. Brush the tin outside with gloss varnish.

Our tip

Instead of stamps you can beautify such a tin with colorful stickers. You can also use the cans as herbal pots. Use a nail to poke a few holes in the ground, fill the can with soil and sow watercress, chives, dill or parsley.

Make things from old cans: stilts


You need:

  • 2 large, stable cans
  • 2 about 2.5 meters long pieces of clothesline
  • 1 big nail
  • 1 hammer
  • 1 pair of scissors

How to do it

Tinker with old cans

1: Use hammer and nail to punch a hole in the wall of a can, about two centimeters from the bottom edge. Hit a second hole right in the opposite wall of the can. Get the best help from an adult.

make things from old cans

2: If the hole is too small, it can be widended, as you can see in the picture, with a pair of scissors. Be careful with this step,

make things from old cans

3: Thread one end of the clothesline through both holes. Pull the leash through until you hold both ends about hip-high. Knot the ends at this height. Do the same with the second can – and then: get on the stilts and go for a walk!

Make things from old cans: penholder

Tinker with old cans

The pencil holder for the desk is simply appealing! And you do not need many materials to get started:

  • 1 can
  • material
  • some glue

How to do it

  1. Find a suitable piece of fabric and cut it to the right size to go around the can. 
  2. Run a vertical line of glue down the can, from top to bottom. Press end of the fabric onto the glue.
  3. When that end has dried, run another line of glue down the can next to it and wrap the fabric snugly around the can. 
  4. Pull the “seam” onto the glue, and hold the fabric in place with rubber bands or cling wrap until it dries..

Our tip: If you do not have any material on hand, then wrapping paper is good too!

Make things from old cans: secret hiding place

make things from old cans

You need:

  • 1 large tin of beans or similar food (that makes no noise when shaken)
  • 1 empty screw cap glass (which fits close to exactly into the height of the can)
  • 1 piece of cardboard
  • about 600 g of sand
  • Hot glue gun
  • kitchen scale
  • safety can opener (which cuts into the side of the can, not into the lid)
make things from old cans

1: Weigh the can with the kitchen scale and note the weight.  Use the safety can opener to remove the BOTTOM of the can and place the contents in a bowl. Clean the can and the removed bottom with water and dries both well. Look for an empty screw top jar that is about half the can diameter, but only slightly shorter than the can – so it touches the bottom and lid of the can at the same time as you push the severed bottom back onto the can.

Tinker with old cans

2: Glue the lid of the screw cap glass with the hot glue gun exactly in the middle of the inside of the bottom of the can. Get help from an adult!

Tinker with old cans

3: Glue the bottom of the glass jar inside the upside down can, again exactly in the middle. Let the glue harden. Now you should be able to open and close the can with the bottom to which you’ve glued the jar’s screw cap.

Tinker with old cans

4: Now comes the trick: The hiding place not only has to look exactly like a “real” tin can – it must feel the same way. Therefore, your SAND fills between jar and the can wall, so much so that the hiding place has exactly the weight of the unopened can. When filling, you tap the box several times on a solid surface, so that the sand compacts nicely.

5: Cut out of the cardboard box a circle with the diameter of the can. Just in the middle you cut a circular hole with the diameter of the jar’s screw-on lid. Place the cardboard ring in the tin on the sand. Carefully glue all edges together with the HOT GLUE PISTOL, so that no sand can trickle out — and your secret hiding place does not fly open.

Make things from old cans: heart bread

You need:

For the form:

  • several cans
  • baking paper
  • maybe some aluminum foil

For the bread dough

  • 450 g of flour
  • 400 ml of buttermilk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • dried herbs or
  • Bread spice at will

How to do it

1.: Place the tin on baking paper, draw with a pen around it and cut out the circle. Put it in the tin, on the bottom. Cut a baking paper strip that lines the tin from the inside. It should be standing up over the edge a little.

2: The heart shape. This is a tip for the advanced – you have to bend your can in heart shape. Remove the can bottom with the can opener. Bend now along an edge – for example, from a railing – a kink in the metal (never on wooden furniture!).

Form exactly on the opposite side of the bend inward the apex of the heart; This is done by hand or by pushing the “heart sides” something on the ground. Grab some tin foil and push it around the bottom as a bottom. Now dress the shape from the inside with baking paper. You can also use this shape to make cookies in a heart shape.

See more great projects for kids here.

Author: Genevieve Dumas is a food, fashion and beauty stylist from New York, who has worked for a range of major magazines.

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