How to Make an Adorable Washboard From a Tin Can
Are you looking for a unique idea to recycle a large tin can? You are. Oh, that’s great, then we might have just the thing for you. This adorable, antique washboard doubles up as a shelf.
Isn’t it just the cutest? No one believes me when I tell them that we made it from an empty coffee tin and bits of scrap wood. It’s only 36.5 cm high and 18 cm wide (14 2/8″ x 7″), so it’s just perfect for a small space. If you have a really large tin can you can adapt the measurements below to make a bigger version.
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What You Need to Make a Tin Can Washboard
You’ll need 1 large tin can that’s rippled and at least 20 cm high (about 8″). The rippled, wavy bit is important. Not all tin cans are cut from the same mold and you may need to walk around the store stroking cans through the labels to find the right one 😉 Yup, people will probably think your nuts, but that’s okay.
Make your weird light shine bright so other weirdos know where to find you
You’ll also need some scrap bits of wood that are at least 2 cm (6/8″) thick, tin snips, a hammer, nails, wood glue, a rolling pin (optional), and something to cut the wood with.
Empty and wash the tin can before removing the top and bottom and cutting it in half. We’ll only be using the one half for this DIY antique washboard. You can save the other half to make this cute little outhouse that doubles up as a toilet paper holder.
Use a rolling pin to flatten the tin can. If you don’t have a rolling pin a rubber hammer or sneaker would also work. Just smack the tin can gently on a flat surface.
Once it’s nice and flat cut it into a square measuring 14 cm x 14 cm (5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″) and file away any rough edges.
For the frame of the washboard cut the wood into the following pieces:
- Inside Top – 1 x 13 cm x 2 cm x 2 cm (5″ x 7/8″ x 7/8″)
- Skirt – 1 x 13 cm x 6 cm x 2 cm (5″ x 2.5″ x 7/8″)
- Shelf – 1 x 18 cm x 6 cm x 2 cm (7″ x 2.5″ x 7/8″)
- Outside Top – 1 x 18 cm x 2 cm x 2 cm (7″ x 7/8″ x 7/8″)
- Sides – 2 x 34.5 cm x 2 cm x 2 cm (13.5″ x 7/8″ x 7/8″)
The next step is optional, but it does create a cleaner finish on the washboard. Measure 6 cm (2 2/8″) from the top of each of the side pieces and cut a slit that’s 14 cm (5.5″) long. Cut a slit all the way across the inside top and the side of the skirt. I’m hoping the photo below explains it better than I can in words. If not please let me know in the comments below. The slit helps hold the rippled piece of the tin can in place.
If you’re not keen on cutting the slits just skip that part. Your washing board will still look great, I promise.
Assembling The Tin Can Washboard
Okay, so now we can put it all together. If you went the “slitless” route (whoa that’s such a funny word, LOL), measure and mark 6 cm (2 2/8″) from the top of both the side pieces and attach the inside top on the 6 cm mark. Measure 13 cm down and attach the skirt and shelf. Finally, add the outside top and glue the piece of the tin onto the back of the washboard frame.
If you cut slits into wood pieces slide the piece of the tin can inside the slits, before assembling the frame in the same way.
For extra storage hang two little buckets underneath the shelf.
And add a gorgeous coffee-themed graphic from The Graphics Fairy to the top of the washboard.
The recycled tin can washboard is on its way to a guest house overseas, and I must admit I’m a little sad. I might just have to make another one to go with our oversized laundry tags 😉
I’d love to know what you think about the washboard. Is it something you’d put in your laundry room? Oh BTW, you can make teeny, tiny versions of this antique washboard too.
If you like the idea of upcycling a tin can into an antique washboard, don’t forget to pin it for later.
Sharing is caring 😉
Oh before I forget, if you don’t want to go to all that trouble to find some of the materials we used, we’ve got you covered. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below, means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more crafty ideas to share with you 😉
And as always, here’s wishing you a beautiful crafty week. Thank you for popping around for a visit.
78 thoughts on “How to Make an Adorable Washboard From a Tin Can”
This just showed up in my Pinterest feed this morning. What a cool idea. I have literally no room in my little laundry area (not even a room…more like a pass-through to the rest of the house!), but there is one teeny tiny space just above the dryer, if I make the shelf about 2 inches wide. LOL But it would fit in my sister’s house beautifully. I already have a regular washboard that ends up in my sewing room for lack of space anywhere else, and I love it. Now I just gotta see if hubby has already burned all the wood scraps in the campfire, and if he hasn’t I might be able to scavenge a few before he does.
Our laundry room sounds like yours, Linda but the lack of space is due to me being a terrible housewife and hoping desperately that the clothes will wash themselves. It hasn’t happened yet, but a girl can dream ? I hope your hubby hasn’t burnt all the scraps yet and that you have loads of fun making the little washboard. Your sister’s going to love it.
I think this is adorable!! but why coffee ad instead of a laundry soap ad?? 🙂
Good question, Chris, and honestly, I can’t remember why I used the coffee one. A soap ad would have been so cool.
This is the cutest little thing. It is absolutely adorable.
Awww, thank you Debra
I love it we have a really small bathroom and it needs storage space and it will work in there. (we call it our out house) cause it is soooo small
? Love how you named your small bathroom an outhouse Joyce. That’s so cool
Love the Wash board shelf. I am gonna make it and put it in my laundry room for Decor.
So glad you like the washboard Deborah and that you’re going to be making one. That’s the best compliment ever
Oh my gosh!! I love it!! I’ve been searching for a simple DIY for a washboard.
Thank you so much!!
Soooo happy you like it Yolanda. It’s not the biggest washboard in the world but it sure looks the part
I am STEALING THIS! Minus the shelf, and smaller and with a different label, but it’s your idea I am ripping off.
I need to make accessories for an 18″ doll’s “Victorian workhouse orphan” outfit. Never thought to whack a can flat and use it for the “board”.
LOL, steal away. It always makes my heart happy when something we do inspires someone. We made teeny tiny versions too that might work for your 18″ dolls
Now that is my kind of wash board ….sure can’t use it to wash clothes but hang it as a reminder to some of us that have used a washboard before …..yes I have too !!! Makes my Knuckles hurt just thinking about using one of these again …..lol….Really cute and I think I am going to make one for my Laundry room and one for a Key holder …thanks for Posting .. Love it !!!!
LOL Maude, those were the days. Thank goodness we have washing machines now. Maybe I should stop complaining about doing the laundry and remember how lucky we are that we don’t have to do it by hand anymore ? Let me know how your little washboard turns out please
Nice! Been looking for an idea to use for a couple sets of keys near my front door. My tiny cabin (14’x24′) is very rustic, and this would fit in perfectly! Thanks for sharing!
That’s a huge pleasure Nancy, thanks so much for your lovely comment. Let me know how it turns out, I’m sure yours will look stunning in your cabin
Agree adorably cute. I like that it is functional too as a shelf.
Thank you so much for that Anonymous, I really appreciate it.
Just saw this – very imaginitive and what a great idea! Thank you for sharing your talents!
Thank you so much, I’m really glad you liked it
Michelle, You are brilliant…love everything about it!!!
Thank you Michelle 😀
That is super adorable, Michelle! I’m really amazed by your creativity. You’re one of a kind!
Aww Jas, thank you so much. I really appreciate that
Totally impressed! What an awesome diy!!
Thank you so much Brittany, I really appreciate that
Oh, how creative! 🙂 I would never have thought to use a tin can to make a washboard. I love old washboards but they’re so expensive here. So now I’ll just make my own! Thanks, Michelle! 😀
Ahhh my fav historical blog lady who’s such an inspiration. Thanks so much Lina, that means a lot coming from you
You are so creative Michelle! I love that! I can just see you in the store feeling up those tin cans! That will be me in the store next. I’m going to have to make this.
😀 LOL Florence, you’re going to have soooo much fun 😀
I like how made the wood pieces look old. Beautiful craft!
Pammy – joyfulsource.com
Thanks so much Pammy. We didn’t do too much with the wood other than give it a light sanding. I really wanted it to look like it had been around for a long time
It looks very nice so useful. Self-realization gives you a lot of satisfaction
Thank you Karolina and you’re right making something for yourself or someone else is so satisfying
Wow! this is so creative! I really admire your creativity and wish I could come up with things like this. It would have never crossed my mind to open a can and create something this neat.
😀 Thanks so much Brooke, tin cans can be so useful.
This is such a great idea and such a nice craft for the home
Thanks so much D
Michelle, I am in awe of your creativity! What a magnificent project! You always make things look easy but I know you put a lot of effort into this from making it, to taking fantastic photos! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!
Awww Maya, thank you so much. You just made my day 😀
Oh my goodness, you are just so creative! I love what you did with this; I would never have thought of it; that’s why I have creative friends to help me 🙂
😀 Right back at you Amy, without all your recipes I’d be a bit stumped 😀
This is extremely adorable but it seems pretty easy for me to do! Gonna try it out!
I’m so glad yo hear that Jia, let me know how it turns out
You have outdone yourself. The washboard is darling I thought you found one and added hooks.
😀 I’m so glad to hear that Debra, thank you so much
This is such a great idea! I am all about DIY, and never thought about doing anything like this. It seems easy enough for me to do too ?
I’m glad you like it Clair and it is real easy to do 🙂
What an incredibly clever DIY project! The end result makes such an attractive wall decoration.
Thanks so much Shelah, I’m really glad you like it
I thought this was a refurbished old scrub board until I read the post. Your ideas are so novel and new. This is gorgeous Michelle you amaze me every week.
Oh that’s great. We can never seem to find the real thing here in South Africa. Thanks so much Leanna
I don’t know how you come up with these ideas—they are brilliant!!
My hubby says it’s coz I’m weird and I love him for it 😉 Thanks Jodie, hope you have a happy week
That is so cute! I remember when my Nana had the real ones around and used them to decorate the farm house. They are awesome! Love how well you create things and share. Thank you!
What a beautiful thing to say Emily, thank you
Why are you so awesome Michelle?? Your washboard is the coolest on Earth because it started with an ordinary tin and some scrap wood and ended up looking like that. Love the graphic you added too. It is definitely worth people’s look at the supermarket.
😀 hey Pili, thank you so much my friend
Michelle, this is so cool. I am amazed with the way you think and envision the end product. Seriously, how do you look at a can and see this cool washboard? So inspiring. I love it. You could use this in so many ways, love that it can be used for magnets and notes and reminders or in the laundry room to use as decor.
Awwww where’s my blush emoticon when I need it Nikki. Thank you
No way Michelle! This is seriously awesome!!! Who would have thought to make a washboard from a tin can!? Well obviously you because you did. I’m still in awe, just wow! Great job lady! 🙂
😀 Thank you Keri. Now I just have to figure out what I can do with the other half.
What a genius make – looks adorable. I’ll be one of those odd people examining cans at the supermarket now!
LOL, people gave me so many funny looks. Thanks so much Sarah
I’m always scared of tin cans because of the sharp ends, but now I look at them in a totally different way. I need one of these Michelle, this is so amazing, I’m really blown away! You did it again!
You’re right Katrin, those sharp edges can be a little scary. We found that if you use a tin snip that’s really sharp the cut lines are pretty smooth. Wearing gloves is probably a good idea just in case
That turned out so well! What a fun project!
😀 Thank you so much Carlee
Oh my gosh, I love this! It’s just too cute! I’d love to try and make one too!
Oh that’s great Carolann, I’m glad you like it. Thank you so much
This is just to cool Michelle! I LOVE it!!! Yall did a fantastic job on it! It makes an adorable little shelf.
Thank you Linda. Love that I could actually hear your voice in your comment. Have a happy week my Southern friend
Oh my that is one original use for tin cans. I never would have thought to open it like that and roll it out. I love the way your “weirdo” mind works. Keep it like that and just as bright. This is really adorable. I can’t blame you for not wanting to give it up.
LOL, Mary, us weirdos have got to stick together, right? Thanks so much, I’m glad you like it.
This is so cute Michelle! It looks exactly like a washboard. Your creative mind never ceases to amaze me 😀
Thank you Angie 😀 Don’t you just love old washboards, but they’re becoming so difficult to find now.