Ultimate Guide to Recycled Tin Can Crafts

Recycled Tin Can Pen Holders

Before you spend money on a matching desk set, remember that you might already have one in your pantry. Tin cans are the perfect size to contain pens, pencils, scissors and other office supplies. You could even turn a shallow tuna can into a paper clip dish.

Wash the can thoroughly in hot, sudsy water, to get rid of traces of food. Since your hands will come into frequent contact with the pen holder, remove or cover all sharp edges. A sanding wheel attached to a power drill or rotor tool will smooth out rough spots. You can also finish the top edge by folding a piece of ribbon lengthwise over the rim. (You might also want to look for a side-cutting can opener, which doesn't leave a sharp edge.)

Before you decorate a pen holder, think about where you plan to place it. Will you be looking down into it? If so, decorate the inside as well as the outside. A bit of contrasting color can be a lovely addition to your desk.

Spray enamel is the easiest way to add color to a tin pen holder. Paint markers will also work. If you're interested in something a bit more elaborate, wrap multiple cans in coordinated pieces of wallpaper. (To find old samples of wallpaper, ask local interior decorators for their discards, or find a Creative Reuse Center.) A small amount of epoxy will make almost anything adhere to metal.

If you have a number of different art supplies or hand tools to organize, you can use numerous recycled tin cans to create a supply rack. Decorate the cans in complementary colors -- or color-code them so you can tell at a glance which is which. If you want a wall-mounted rack, attach the cans (with screws or epoxy) to a plain wooden coat rack. You can use the hooks on the coat rack to hang tools such as tongs and scissors, or to keep power cords hung without tangling.

Alternatively, if you need work-surface organization, you could affix the tins to a lazy Susan for your workbench or art table. If you put the lazy Susan on casters, you'll always be able to roll your supplies to the place on the table where you're working.

If you're ready to take your cans outdoors, keep reading for a great craft for your garden or patio.