53 Old Items Fantastically Fit for Repurposing
Old milk jugs and pool noodles are standard materials for repurposing, but check out what you can do with items like books and gutters.
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Pipe insulation for baby-proofing
Pool noodle wrist rest
Save your containers
Save all your glass and plastic containers for your shop. Glass jars work well for liquids. Clean brushes in an old tin can. Brush on glue from small containers of all kinds. Sour cream/cottage cheese containers work for just about everything. Clear plastic containers are great for miscellaneous storage because you can see what’s in them. Just label everything with a permanent marker. Check out these household uses for vinegar you never knew about.
DIY dog feeder
Make a tough, self-filling dog feeder from a couple of 5-gal. buckets. With a saber saw, cut the bottom off one bucket to create a serving tray, and cut a food dispensing hole in the food storage bucket (as shown). Cut part of the lip off the bottom of the food storage bucket to flatten it, then use silicone to glue the two pieces together. NOTE: Don’t build this dog feeder unless your pooch can exercise some self-control.
String-dispensing CD bins
Power cord coilers
Light-duty extension cord storage
To keep light-duty extension cords organized, slide them into toilet paper or paper towel tubes. Write the length of the cord on the tubes before you put them in a drawer or bin. You’ll be able to find the right cord easily with this extension cord storage hack, plus you’ve made good use of the tubes. Check out these extraordinary uses for the junk in your garage.
Double-lid cord reel
Make this handy cord reel using extra bucket lids. Cut a 5-in. length of 4×4 and then cut a groove in the side the same width as your cord. Fasten the lids to the 4×4 with 1/4 x 2-in. lag screws. Make handles from an old 1-1/8 in. diameter broom handle and drill a 1/2-in. hole through the center. Fasten the crank to the lid with bolts, nuts, and washers, and apply Loctite sealant to the end nut. Fasten the handle to the 4×4 through the lid with a 6-1/2 in. lag screw. Just insert your cord and reel it in.
Organize your wrenches in your toolbox by stringing them onto a large, bright-colored carabiner (sold at camping and discount stores). It will keep your wrenches together and make them portable and easy to spot.
Pull-tab picture frame hook
If you’re hanging pictures and run out of those sawtooth hangers, just grab the nearest pop can. Bend the pull tab back and forth until it breaks off. Then screw it to your picture frame. Bend the free end out slightly and hang the picture. —Reader Carrie Tegeler
Scour off grime with an electric toothbrush
Now that discount and dollar stores carry cheap electric toothbrushes, you can add a modern twist to routine cleaning. Rapid vibration will quickly scrub out stubborn dirt, while the long handle can get to hard-to-reach places without all the elbow grease. Don’t miss these 7 other ways you’re probably cleaning your bathroom wrong.
Tennis ball bottle opener
Milk jug scoop
Cut off the top of an empty gallon or half-gallon milk jug with sharp scissors. It helps to draw the cut line with a marker first. Clean up the cut to make sure there are no sharp or rough edges. Replace the jug cap and you have a handy (and pretty much free) scoop for pet food, potting soil, etc. Remove the cap and you can use the scoop as a funnel!
Grass seed broadcaster
Paper towel roll bag storage
There are many uses for plastic grocery bags in the workshop. You can use them to seal up brushes and rollers during a painting project, so you don’t have to wash so much stuff between coats. The point is, it’s worth keeping a handful of plastic grocery bags on hand in the workshop, and here’s a great tip for storing them: Stuff as many plastic grocery bags as possible into an empty paper towel roll. Then toss the roll in a drawer or cabinet. The cardboard tube keeps the bags contained, and it’s easy to pull one out at a time when you need it.
Greenhouses from the salad bar
Paint stick to clean lint buildup
Hot glue gun uses: fix wobbly furniture with a penny
Use a pool noodle inside a drawer
Flour sifter flower pot
If you have an old flour sifter you no longer use, try turning into a planter. If you don’t have one, there’s a good chance you’ll find one at a thrift store or garage sale to use for repurposing ideas. Get the best deal at thrift stores with these shopping secrets.
Oil-bottle hardware tote
Here’s a fun little project to keep your screws, nails, nuts and electrical whatsits handy and neatly organized. To make one, you’ll need:
- Six quart-size motor oil bottles (empty!)
- One 9-in. x 7-3/4-in. floor made from 3/8-in. or 1/2-in. plywood
- One 7-3/4-in. x 6-in. plywood handle
- Two 3-1/2-in. x 9-in. plywood sides
With a utility knife or snips, fashion the oil bottles into bins with 15-degree angled sides starting 2-1/2 in. up from one side. (If your bottles have hash marks, the 12-oz. hash mark is great for the low end of the angle.)
Saw a handle slot in the vertical piece, and saw 15-degree angles on the sidepieces. Glue and nail the six-pack together. Add solid wood strips along the open sides to keep the bins from falling out and to make it easy to pull one out as needed.
Pie plate storage pockets
Screw cut-in-half pie tins and heavy-duty paper plates to a shop wall and you’ve got space-saving storage for the sanding discs, circular saw blades and abrasive discs that like to hide in a drawer. Be sure to tape the sharp edges on the cut pie plates to protect your fingers!
Use soft socks to clean blinds
Onboard glue spreader
For years I used my finger to spread glue beads on the edges of boards. Then, in sweaty haste, I’d wipe my fingers on my pants and another pair of nice jeans would become ‘work-only’ attire. To make the job less messy, all you need is an old credit card (or new, your choice), a 3/4-in.two-hole EMT conduit strap (about 50? at a home center) and two 1/8-in.nuts and bolts. Crook the conduit strap in a vise to level the conduit strap wings with the bottle cap. This way the credit card stays flat when you bolt it on. Drill a couple of window holes in the middle of the credit card so you can monitor the size of the glue bead, then drill bolt holes at the end of the card, snap the conduit strap onto the bottle cap and bolt on the card. Practice applying glue on a scrap board and in a few minutes you’ll get it down (pun intended). Be sure to use fresh glue—the lightly bending card will spread it like butter.
Safety glasses insurance
Protect safety glasses by storing them in an old sock. Hang the sock on the wall in your workshop, and they’ll remain scratch-free, dust-free and easy to find. If you don’t have a pegboard wall in your shop, it’s time to build one! In just two hours you can make a versatile pegboard wall with a handy storage bin beneath.
Pallet wine rack
Wallpaper is making a huge comeback in home design, as long as it’s unique and limited to an accent wall or two. There is no more unique statement than wallpapering with book pages. Once you figure out the basics of hanging wallpaper, you’ll have this unique feature wall complete in no time.
Fabric and electrical conduit divider
Here’s a clever way to use electrical conduit: Attach some fabric and you have a modern DIY room divider. For a how-to video of the process, visit here.
Instead of tossing that cardboard milk or orange juice carton in the recycling bin, cut off the top, wrap it with fabric and use it as a planter for herbs or flowers. It’s one of the items you didn’t know you could recycle or upcycle. For more repurposing ideas, visit Cut Out + Keep.
Stuffed animal storage
Some of the oldest and most hard-working pieces can be transformed into works of art with repurposing ideas. This old cart is now used as a flower planter.
If you have woodworking skills, you can build this hinged room divider. You will need a table saw for furniture-quality results along with some wallpaper or fabric to match your room’s decor. Here are even more budget-friendly ways to decorate your house.
If you come across some old window shutters at a resale shop or garage sale, consider using them as a DIY room divider. Just paint or stain and add some hinges. You can get a similar look with salvaged closet doors, too.
Here’s yet another project that uses an old wooden pallet. You’ll need some landscape fabric to attach to the backside of the pallet, then fill with soil and plant your flowers. Prop the planted pallet up against a wall or fence.
If you’re up for cutting glass, try using empty wine bottles as planters. You’ll need to cut either the side or the top, depending on the look you’re going for.
Try using an old coffee mug or teacup to grow some small plants. Try an oversized mug to hold flowers on your dining table. Your houseplants will last longer if you know these hacks for healthy houseplants.
Cut your cheap downspouts into short sections, about 6 inches long, then stack and bind these sections so you have several rows of openings. You can store these downspout storage slots in a work bag for quick access, or mount them on a table. It’s a great DIY project for hobbyists with supplies that are tough to store and organize.
A hollowed-out book is an age-old space to hide valuables, but it also looks great on display as a jewelry box. Get creative and add wooden feet or several stacked boxes for optimum effect. These boxes would also look great in an organized closet space which would make it feel like a luxurious dressing room, even in a small footprint. There are a few other closet organizing mistakes you can easily remedy with some DIY tricks.
Those plastic milk jugs can be cut and used as planters. Try hanging them from a fence with wire coat hangers, as shown here.
All you need to create this amazing hidden storage box is glue, a sharp knife, and a simple box frame. This is one home security hack that looks as good as it works.
Alternative to plastic bags: mesh produce bag
New life for broken shop vacuums
Next time an old shop vacuum dies, don’t trash the whole thing—just toss the lid and motor, and then use the canister as a roll-around trash can. Just nudge it with your toe to move it wherever you need it.
Organize paperwork with a pot lid holder
Repurpose a dresser
Repurpose an old dresser as a printing station. Keep wire baskets near for printer discards and store ink and paper supplies in the drawers for easy access. Drawers also make for a sturdy storage solution for extra notebooks, binders, and books. Getting rid of your file cabinets? Use them in the shop! Next, find out the extraordinary uses for some more ordinary things you have in your house.