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10 Uses for Paint Cans

New or used, these pails have a variety of uses around the house

Metal Keepers

Photo by James Worrell

There are many clever ideas for these metal pails, whether you've got an emptied leftover* or a pristine home-center buy.

*When cleaning out latex paint cans for reuse, follow municipal guidelines for disposing of paint responsibly.

1. Mix Concrete for Small Jobs

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The handle makes it easy to pour when patching small holes.

2. Shade a Lamp

Photo by Ryan Benyi

Snip off the handle of a large can with wire cutters; remove the bottom with a can opener. Drill small holes in the metal sides, following any design you like, then paint. Cut a disk out of hardware cloth to fit snugly inside the can; cut a smaller circle, large enough to fit a lamp socket without a harp, out of the disk's center. Fit the disk inside the can. Rest the shade on the socket.

3. Store Pencils or Brushes

Photo by Ryan Benyi

Place adhesive-backed magnets on the bottoms of small paint cans (use a hot-glue gun for extra hold). Attach to an inexpensive magnetized knife strip on the wall.

4. Make a Bag Dispenser

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Cut a circular hole in the lid of a large paint can, and file any sharp edges. Stash a roll of garbage bags in the can, pulling the free end through the hole.

5. Build a Wine Rack

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Remove the tops and bottoms of quart-size cans with a can opener. Connect several cans laid side by side using heavy-duty glue or epoxy adhesive. Stack more cans on top of them in an artful way and glue in place. Use clothespins or binder clips to secure them until the glue dries.

6. Assemble a Bird Feeder

Photo by Rick & Nora Bowers/Visuals Unlimited, Inc./Visuals Unlimited/Getty

Remove the lid and tie sturdy twine around the middle of the can to hang sideways. Glue a 4-inch section of a 3/16-inch wood dowel to the bottom lip of the can to form a perch. Add birdseed and hang.

7. Stabilize a Tiki Torch

Photo by Ryan Benyi

Fill a large paint can with sand or gravel, and stick a garden torch in the middle.

8. Organize Owner's Manuals

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Lay a row of large paint cans side by side on a shelf in the garage to store booklets.

9. Light Up a Path

Photo by Tina Rupp

To make decorative luminaries, drill holes in pint-size cans, making a pattern. Place a votive candle in each can.

10. Fashion a Hanging Planter

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Drill three drainage holes in the bottom of a large can (handle removed) and three in the sides near the top to thread with sash chain. Add potting soil, then plant petunias or other similar draping plants.