Repurposing Vintage Milk Can to a Side Table

13 Materials
4 Days
Taking a vintage milk can off the farm and giving it a new purpose as a side table to use in your living room, bedroom, guest room, entryway or on your porch.

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Step 1: Prep your milk can for paint. Spray the milk can with a vinegar/water 50/50 mix solution and wipe away any loose rust, dirt, and grime. Let dry.

Step 2: Choose your paint color of choice and add to the bottle of a spray gun. We find using a spray gun gives you even coverage. For this example we are using our Case IH red paint.
Step 3: With a stencil trace an 18" round circle on your slab of wood. Cut your table top out with a jig saw. To round your edges use your router. We use our palm sander to smooth out the edges.
Step 4: Select your stain color of choice to stain the wood top. For this example we use an espresso stain.
Step 5: Seal your wood top with a polyurethane to protect it from any scratches, dings, dents, and spills. On the side that will be your top add a second coat of polyurethane.
Step 6: Center your table top on your milk can and secure with 3 braces - evenly space them apart.

You're finished! The paint tends to bring out the lettering in the can that sometimes can be hard to read with the rust and dirt- -This is one of my favorite things to see with a finished can. Now your table is ready for any room in your home or on your front porch.

To BUY this vintage side table, click here

Here is how our top turned out.
The overall project takes around 3-4 days to complete. Having to give layers of paint, stain, and polyurethane coats time to dry - as directed on the cans.

Suggested materials:

  • Vintage milk can
  • Wood - for top
  • Paint
See all materials

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

3 of 18 questions
  • Thi28565522 Thi28565522 on Jul 30, 2017
    What kind of fastener's did you use and will a L bracket work.
  • Linda Latoski Linda Latoski on Nov 26, 2017
    How would you recommend to remove several layers of paint on an old can? I've tried paint remover, scraping and even sanding. Its still a mess. I'd love to do this table, but stuck with the paint removal from the past! Thanks
  • Gina Flammang Hooper Gina Flammang Hooper on Feb 18, 2019

    I have milk can and I like the aged and rusted look. Can I just clean with a brush and put a sealer on it ? Looking for old round tray that I can add a ring to rest on top of milk can lid. Hate to drill holes in lid.


Join the conversation

2 of 139 comments
  • Janine Janine on Sep 18, 2019

    Yes, I saved the round bottom of a wine barrel, stained it and will use it for the top. The can needs a little rust removal, but I'm keeping the painted number on the can. It just so happens that it's my wedding anniversary!

  • Maureen Miller Maureen Miller on Apr 23, 2020

    I have 2 old milk cans that I’m going to make one into a bird bath and the other one for butterflys. I’m excited to start my project.

    Thanks for the great ideas on the old milk cans.