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Using Empty Metal Cans

Using Empty Metal Cans

• Metal cans of any size can be used as outdoor lights, luminaries for patios, driveways etc. Remove label from can, cut a "window" in one side of can. Place a glass jar ,one that fits snugly into the into the can. A small amount of sand, or styrofoam base, with a candle is placed into the glass jar. A light that is harder to tip over, the  wind won’t bother it and best of all it is not flammable as are paper sacks that I have seen used in this way.

• I use them to make "coffee can ice cream." Place a small can inside a larger can. Both cans need to have lids. Place ice and salt between the two cans and milk, sugar, etc. in the smaller can. Put both lids on and roll around to freeze the ice cream. Yum!

• I use small tuna cans as cookie cutters. Just use a pair of needle nose pliers to bend them into shapes.

• I pinch holes in the bottom of large metal cans for drainage and then use them as flower pots.

• Make a fire starter! Remove the top and the bottom, punch holes along the bottom edge. Punch two holes on either side of the top edge. Attach a coat hanger handle to the top. Place in the center of the grill, put newspaper in the bottom, coal on top of the newspaper, and light from the bottom (stick a match in one of the bottom holes). It gets the coals going faster and hotter. Remove the can before putting the food on.  Nicola

• Of course the first one is using them as telephones. Clean two cans thoroughly. Make sure there are no ragged edges if so pound them down with a hammer or get another can. Then cut a small hole in the bottom of each can and pull a string through it. Viola a telephone.

• Next use would be as a planter or seed starter. As a planter decorate it with paint, paper, stickers or whatever and place on a plastic lid or dish decorated to match. For seeds just plant and use. Of course always clean thoroughly and make sure there are no sharp ends, before use.

• They also make great vases. Either hang them with string or metal hangers bent into shape,.( Use a nail to punch holes for the string/hangers). Or just place on a table( put cork or a coaster under the can). Put in the flowers. Pen and pencil holders can be made as well. I even store paper clips in them and other office supplies. Use the same things as for the planter or use construction paper, cloth or even a paper bag you put stickers on.  Coffee cans make great coin banks. Decorate any way you wish and cut on x in the lid. Put the lid on and now you have a bank. Actually any can or container with a plastic lid can be made into a bank.  Coffee cans make great canisters. Use to store rice or other food. I’d put a plastic bag inside to make sure no coffee flavor gets into the food. If you decorate the can it looks a lot more attractive than a plastic bag. I’d put a lid on the bottom to prevent rust marks then cover just the can or the whole thing.

• How about decorating a small can. Rust proof the inside to hold toothbrushes or hair brushes in the bathroom.( never put the brush part in the can, likewise no combs) I also use small cans to pour grease into. coffee cans would be better if you want to use the can for a longer time period. (Lid keeps the smell from permeating the room.)  Cans can also be used to make furniture such as coffee or end tables. Glue a few together for legs. Then either glue more cans on top and a top. Use glass, plastic, wood or maybe even particle board. (Of course decorate it to match your decor.) Regular soup cans or aluminum cans work for this project. If you like the silver look use aluminum foil to cover the cans. If you don’t want to buy a top then flatten your cans and hook them together for an unusual looking table. Shines nicely through clear plastic.

• I also use them to send or give gifts to people . Cookies and other things don’t get smashed. I used one neat can I got as gift box without an decoration.

• A very basic idea is to use it as a paint can I put some paint in there so I don’t have to lug the whole can around. Coffee cans are a great way to transport a smaller amount of paint. I also use it to clean paint brushes. I put varnish in a can clean the brush and dispose of the can. One other use would be to flatten a can and make a picture frame. Glue a small picture in the center. Or hook a few together for a unique  design.  You can cut aluminum cans and make art work or hook onto wood or metal frames. The different colors make an unusual look. Aluminum cans that have about 3 strips cut out are great. Put in a candle(with candle holder) and display. Be careful where you place these as they will get very hot. Keep out of reach of children and pets (especially wagging tails).  That’s it for now.

• I make storage units from tin cans.  I use an opener that doesn’t leave the sharp edge, but if you don’t have one you can grind it off with a Dremel tool.  We use a variety of size cans, clean them well. To assemble them, you need hot glue and a sturdy cardboard base.  You use the cans on their sides and glue them together side-to-side in any shape or arrangement you like.  They are great on shelves for putting things into, or you can make them upright to stand in drawers for underwear, sox, etc.  My son uses his on the wall over his desk for pencils, pens, stapler etc. We’ve gotten really creative on a few covering the cans with fabric and things, but they’re great cheap and easy storage options. You can opt to have either the tops even with each other, or the bottoms, giving an architectural element in the finished project.  Simone

• I use 1lb. coffee cans to bake cakes and nut breads in, some for gifts- just put lid on when cooled and decorate. We also use them as grease cans. Also to throw out stinky food in your trash. We use smaller cans to make pen&pencil holders as gifts once decorated. 1&5 lb. cans my great storage for anything, nuts, bolts nails, crayons other small toys, legos etc. And of course in the food pantry for all kinds of storage for food and staples. Linda I take the label off the vegetable or fruit cans, wash them, and use them for pen-holders by all the phones in our house. Some cans (like oriental fruit tins) are too pretty to cover, but more often I’ll decorate them with construction paper decorated with stickers, glitter glue, markers, plastic gems, etc. Sometimes I’ll use contact paper to match my drawer liners – there’s usually just enough left on the roll after lining the drawers or pantry shelves to cover one can. Wallpaper remnants are also great for covering the cans. The larger cans I’ll decorate similarly and use in my pantry to hold gravy mixes, bullion cubes, powdered drink packets, sweetener packets and the like. For these, especially ones that will go on higher shelves, part of their decoration is the label of what’s inside. In my spice cabinet I’ll use the decorated cans to hold the bags of bulk herbs for which I do not yet have a lidded container. If I’ve got a can that has a lid, (like coffee cans or fancy tea canisters) I’ll use them for everything from corn-on-the-cob holders to beads, toys, pet snacks, nails, pennies, potting soil, seed packets, craft supplies and teabags.

• Cans can also be used as storage on an empty wall. Get a 2 by 4 board and hang some cans on the board. I prefer to have them facing   upwards. Then I label the cans with the type of items stored. You can place them on their side facing out but make sure you have a way to stop the items from rolling out. Use a lid or make a lip maybe glue a piece of cardboard on the can.

• Coffee cans with a plastic ld on the bottom, ( prevents scratching and rust marks), makes great storage for thread, buttons or just about anything you want to store. Just put on a plastic lid to keep everything together and dirt out.  One other great use for different size cans would be as decoration displays. Get a nice piece of material to cover the cans. Next place the cans on a table or mantel and cover them with the material. Finally get some of your knickknacks or art and place on and around the cans. Another type of can I use is the trash can. I store large quantities of food such as rice in them. I use a coffee can to pull out some and place in a 3 pound coffee can. Food will stay fresher longer using a smaller container for everyday use. 

• Of course I use it as a trash can but I also store garden tools in one.  Keeps everything together without building anything. And of course when you need a planter it works great indoors or outdoors. Remember to put cork under the can. I line mine with trash bags so they don’t rust.  I also store my winter/summer clothes in one. I then place it in a shed or my closet to get it out of the way. If there isn’t room then decorate the can and use it as a decoration.

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