Create a Unique Picnic Caddy Made of Upcycled Cans

5 Materials
30 Minutes

With the weather heating up, it’s always a fun afternoon activity to go out for a picnic! I wanted to create something useful that also recycled items people normally throw away. This upcycled picnic caddy was the perfect solution! Using six tin cans and some scrap wood I created the perfect picnic caddy to hold all of the silverware and napkins we needed for lunch. I kept mine simple but you can decorate it any way you want, the sky's the limit. Check out my tutorial to get started!

Tools and Materials

  • Six empty tin cans
  • Spray paint
  • If you don’t have spray paint you can use regular paint (make sure you get one that sticks to metal)
  • Paintbrush
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • Screws
  • Two blocks of wood
  • Handle for the caddy
  • Wood stain
  • Rag
  • Oil based paint pen
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue sticks
Prep the Cans
Prep the Cans

You’ll need six cans for this picnic caddy. Try to use cans that are all the same size, as it will look nicer and it will be easier to properly space them on the caddy. Make sure to completely remove the label and as much of the glue as you can. 


Coconut oil is very useful when it comes to removing labels from cans and jars. Simply mix it with some baking soda to form a past. Then rub a bit of it on the label or glue that you’re trying to get off and it should come up easily.

Once the cans were as clean as I could get them, I used white spray paint to get a good few coats of paint on my tin cans quickly. If you can’t get your hands on spray paint, you can use acrylic paint, just make sure that you find one that sticks to metal, as not all of them do.

Create Holes in the Cans
Create Holes in the Cans

You don’t need a screwdriver to create holes in the cans. I’ll show you an easy way to create these holes with materials you probably already have at home. Lay two blocks of wood on top of eachother, with one being a bit longer than the other. 

Use a Nail

Then insert the wood into the can, making sure to have the side with imperfections from the label facing up, and nail a hole through the can. Repeat this on every can.

Can with Hole
Create a Handle for the Caddy
Create a Handle for the Caddy

I created a handle for the caddy using a piece of pine and my scroll saw. This allowed me to create a handle from the piece of wood without having to attach anything to it. However, if you’d prefer, you can use a simple block of wood and attach a drawer pull or a leather strap as the handle. 

Stain the Handle

I wanted my caddy to be a bit darker, so I stained the handle that I had made for the caddy. When staining wood, make sure to rub it all over the piece so that you get an even coat.

Use a Sticker as a Template
Decorate the Cans

Using a sticker, I marked where I wanted the label to be.

Trace the Sticker

I used an oil based paint pen to write on the can because the spray paint I used was oil based. If you use a water based paint pen over spray paint it won’t be permanent.

Use an Oil Based Permanent Marker

Then I wrote “knives” in the rectangle that I had traced on the can. The way you choose to decorate the cans is totally up to you. I think that a gingham design would be super cute, especially for picnics.

Mark with a Nail
Attach the Cans to the Handle

In order for the cans to be evenly spaced, I started with the center one. I centered it on the board and made sure that the bottom was flush with the bottom of the handle for the caddy.

I made sure that the hole that I had already created in the can was facing done and marked the wood through it with a hammer and nail.

Add Pilot Holes

Then I measured to make sure that the hole was in the exact center of the board. I marked where I wanted the other two cans to be and drilled pilot holes. Pilot holes are useful because they make it easier to screw the cans in place later. 

Screw in Place

I used a thin screw to attach the cans to the boards because it needed to fit through the hole I had punched previously with a nail.

Attach the Cans to the Handle

Using a phillips head screwdriver, I screwed the can in place. Make sure that the screw that you use isn’t so long that it comes out the other side.

Secure with Glue

For additional security, I also hot glued the cans to the board. Do this before the can is completely screwed into place so that you can swivel it to the side to add the glue. Additionally, make sure that your paint is completely dry, because if it’s not it may not adhere to the glue.

Then I finished screwing the can in place. 

Repeat on the Other Side

I repeated the process with two more cans and then moved to the other side. When attaching the cans on the other side I used a block of wood to help me prop the caddy up on its side to prevent the once I had already attached from getting crushed.

DIY Picnic Utensil Caddy
DIY Picnic Caddy

And that’s it! You can fill this caddy with silverware, napkins, flowers, straws, whatever you need for your picnic. If you want you can even keep this on your kitchen table so that your kids don’t have to go rifling through drawers to find their silverware for dinner. 

Resources for this project:

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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  • Monique Monique on May 13, 2020

    I would have painted or decoupaged the cans to make it look better, but otherwise, great project/idea!

  • Mary Ann Mary Ann on May 13, 2020

    Great project. Something that I will try. Thank-you.