17 Crafty Ways to Reuse Tin Cans

Next time you cook up a can of beans or pour a can of coconut milk into a batch of soup, don’t toss that can in the recycle bin! Send it through the dishwasher instead, and try out some of these tin can crafts!

As recycling goes, metal recycling is pretty efficient, but when it comes to cans, most metal recycling is actually downcycling. Instead of turning old cans into new cans, those metal cans come out of the recycling center as an inferior metal product. The problem is that because of impurities in the metal, the final product ends up “diluted.” After enough downcycling, that metal is landfill-bound. It will get used multiple times, which is much better than tossing it right away, but the recycling center is really a pit stop on the way to the landfill.

Related Reading: 25 Crafty Ways to Reuse Junk Mail

Of course, recycling those cans is still better than tossing them into the trash. Any time you divert waste from the landfill, you’re doing something good for the planet. But what’s even better than recycling/downcycling those old cans? Using your crafty skills to upcycle them into something cute and usable!

Upcycling is kind of the opposite of downcycling. Rather than creating an inferior or even an equally useful product, you’re taking landfill-bound waste and turning it into something usable again. I love crafty upcycling, because it usually requires very little energy, so it’s a double win for the environment.

Ready to get crafty? On the next page, check out our list of tin can craft projects!

succulent planter

1. DIY Succulent Planter – Grab your drill and an empty can, and turn it into a sweet succulent planter! If you have a larger can – 32 ounces or bigger – you can use it for other things, like herbs or even small vegetable plants.

2. DIY Luminaries – Create illuminated art! All you need are a hammer and nails, and you can transform old cans into pretty luminaries.

3. Kitchen Organizer – Empty cans are the perfect size for stashing kitchen utensils. Check out how to make a hanging kitchen organizer from a few old cans and a reclaimed wooden cutting board.

4. Create a Night Light – This is kind of a spin on the luminary idea. Turn an old can into a cute night light that casts a decorative glow.

5. Recycled Wine Rack – Got a nice stash of empty cans? You can use them to make a functional wine rack.

6. Tin Can Drums – This is a fun way to get kids in on the upcycling. Turn old cans into fun little drums that they can play with.

7. Table Numbers – Another cool spin on the luminary idea! For your next big party, use empty cans to create lit up table numbers.

8. Pin Cushion – Seamstresses, rejoice! A tin can makes a nice, sturdy, large pin cushion. Even better: it doesn’t resemble a ball like the traditional tomato pin cushion, so maybe if it falls on the floor, your dog won’t immediately try to pick it up. True story!

9. Craft Supplies OrganizerThis project calls for bigger tins – like cookie tins – but you could easily translate it to use tin cans instead.

10. Craft Supply Caddy – Headed out to a craft night? You can tote your supplies in upcycled style with a portable craft supplies caddy made from old cans!

11. Stilts – Got a 32 ounce can or a coffee can? Make your kiddo a super fun pair of stilts!

12. Chalkboard Paint Organizer – Use chalkboard paint to make labeled organizers from your old cans. If you need to change what you’re storing where, just wipe the chalk away and write on a new label. So versatile!

13. Twine-Wrapped Can – You can use a twine-wrapped can as a pretty organizer, a vase for cut flowers, or even drill some holes in the bottom and create a planter.

14. Tin Candles – Get it? A reclaimed can makes a perfect vessel for DIY candles.

15. Tiered Vase – You need a 15 ounce, a 32 ounce, and a tuna can for this project. Create a beautiful tiered vase for real or handmade flowers.

16. Mood Lighting – Another tuna can project, these clever tea light holders hang vertically on the wall!

17. Bead-in-a-Can – Yep! You can bake up batches of banana bread right in reclaimed (cleaned) cans! They make great hostess gifts.

Have you guys seen any cool tin can crafts lately? Share your favorite ideas in the comments!

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Sakshi Talwar
Sakshi Talwarabout a year ago

loved all the ideas

Val M.
Val M.2 years ago


Winn Adams
Winn Adams2 years ago


Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

awesome ideas! thanks

jenny H.
jenny H.2 years ago

I love these ideas! I'm always looking for ways to reuse my junk.

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado2 years ago

Thanks for the ideas.

Jeni G.
Jennifer G.3 years ago

Very cool, thanks for the ideas!

Laura Fulmer
Laura Fulmer3 years ago

I'll have to try some of these.

Syera V.
Syera N.3 years ago

very nice ideas! thanks!