DIY tin can table numbers

Categories   DIY Projects

Jillian came up with this super cute table number idea after dinner at a restaurant that had something similar on their tables. Such an excellent way to make cute, but inexpensive (and recycled!) numbers for your tables. Plus they glow and we all know that you positively cannot have too much candle light on a dinner table.


Here’s what you need to get started. The tin cans (obviously). We suggest stopping by a local restaurant and asking if they have any empty tin cans they could part with. Just tell them you want them for your garden or something… no need to go into the whole story, you know? The nice thing about commercial cans is that they’re way bigger than regular soup cans from the store.


Then you’ll need:

drill (with an appropriately sized bit)
gold spray paint
a ruler
letter size colored paper
spray mount
exacto knife
cutting mat
and your number stencils, which you can download here.


Step 1: Tape off the inside of your cans so no spray paint gets inside. Spray the outside of each can with the gold spray paint (or any color you like). Be sure you don’t hold the spray can nozzle too close to the tin can, which can make for drippy, runny lines down your pretty table numbers and no one wants that.

You may need to do two or three coats depending on how opaque you want to the color to be.


Step 2: Once your cans are dry, wrap your printed number stencil around each tin can.

Step 3: Drill. Yay! Start by drilling the outline of the number first (following the stencil line), and then work your way in. It certainly doesn’t have to be perfect, but the more holes you can drill, the more light your can will give off.

Step 4: Slide your colored paper into the can on the opposite side as the number. Mark the paper with the appropriate height and width (you don’t want it to cover your numbers. Next trim the paper to the correct size using your cutting mat and exacto.

Step 5: Spray mount the trimmed paper to the inside of your can (opposite the number). And you’re done! We used red paper but you can of course use whatever color you like. If you’re using a color you’re not sure about, consider doing a test can first and lighting it that night to make sure you like the look before you finish the rest of your numbers.


Voila! Pretty, recycled table numbers.

Download the number stencil template here.

Social Love

[email protected] Pretty Chicky on Jun 23, 2009

Great project! I would do this.

TanSwan on Jun 23, 2009

SO CUTE! I made a Christmas votive holder like this in elementary school. We filled the cans with water and froze them so we could use a hammer and nail to make the holes. I still have mine 25 years later!

Brenda on Jun 23, 2009

Such a cute idea, I love the modern look with the cans.

Michelle on Jun 23, 2009

What a great idea! This would be nice with a floral pattern for everyday as well.

Joyce on Jun 23, 2009

Awesome idea! It's like table numbers and candles in one but still looking very classy!

kiss my spatula on Jun 23, 2009

brilliant idea! perfect for a summery outdoor special day!

laura on Jun 23, 2009

I love new ways to recycle tin cans!

FireFlyNad on Jun 23, 2009

Thank you for sharing the tutorial, love the idea of recycling tin cans. You definitely can never have too many candles.

Kate on Jun 23, 2009

This is a GREAT idea. You could use alphabetical stencils, too .. I want to make some of these!

April on Jun 24, 2009

I love these DIY table numbers. They would be perfect for a garden wedding.

Does the Dress Fit on Jun 24, 2009

What an awesome idea and very budget friendly. Where was this idea when I was getting married?

paula on Jun 24, 2009

what a beautiful idea!

rachel baker on Jun 24, 2009

just a cute, unique idea!!!!!

Kim on Jun 24, 2009

This is adorable! I'm not getting married, but I would definitely put something like this in my kitchen! Maybe switch the numbers with letters and spell out something cute! =) Thanks a million!

Erin on Jun 24, 2009

This is so clever - perfect for summer!

Bonnie Bell on Jun 24, 2009

I like that you are using cans that are commercial size. They will add weight to a nice table centerpiece. I also like that you can use any paper inside to create a look and feel that will match your wedding style.

victoria on Jun 24, 2009

These are awesome--so creative! I'm going to make some for our back yard BBQs. :)

EventStyle101 on Jun 24, 2009

love love creative

nina on Jun 24, 2009

This is such a unique & cool idea...

julianne smith on Jun 24, 2009

love this idea! you could paint the inside of the can instead and then put little tea lights inside. adorable!

robin pulsifer on Jun 24, 2009

such a fabulous idea! really for any occasion. you could do it with letters too and spell out fabulous words. really great!

christina on Jun 24, 2009

love it! might do it for my wedding... i'll let you know how they turn out!

newlydomesticated on Jun 24, 2009

omg, how adorable. my friends did something similar for a party; they nailed personalized designs into the lids of mason jars and everyone took theirs home at the end of the night.

Rachel on Jun 24, 2009

LOVE this! What a great idea. I'll be linking.

Melody @ Sweet & Saucy Shop on Jun 25, 2009

What a great idea!

Rely on Jun 27, 2009

I love recycle ideas !! So cute! Thanks for the tutorial!!

Mary Kidwell on Jun 30, 2009

I've got to echo everyone else on this, I absolutely love this idea. I've been seeing it around the blogs and I think it's the most creative, most easily diy-ed idea for a centerpiece. I love that it's so easily personalized, and that you can alter the colors to match your own preferences. Thanks so much for posting this!

Secret Leaves on Jun 30, 2009

This is such a cool idea. And if I found cans with graphics as great-looking as these Bazzini Nuts cans, I'm not sure I would even paint the outsides. Lovely. Sharon

girlwithblueballoon on Jul 8, 2009

I LOVE this idea....could you just paint the inside of the can rather than put colored paper inside?

100layercake on Jul 8, 2009

Hi there, Yes, you could spray paint the inside. If you do that I'd spray the inside first then spray the outside. You can't just use regular paint b/c it won't stick. I tried that at first.

christina on Jul 9, 2009

This is a great idea. Can you please tell me what the volume is on these cans? Thanks

girlwithblueballoon on Jul 10, 2009

Okay thanks so much!

Vera Devera on Jul 15, 2009

Jillian - you rock as always. I just came across a huge stash of BRAND NEW paint cans for 30 CENTS each at Urban Ore in Berkeley. I picked them up trying to figure out what I could do creatively with them (use as succulent pot holders or centerpieces) and voila, I came across your post. Grazie, bella! :)

tammyk on Jul 21, 2009

I love this! I'm already married, but I think I'll make it with our house numbers and line them up on our front porch.

Jaclyn on Jul 23, 2009

Loved the idea so much, I posted it on my blog :) Thank you for sharing your creativity!

Fiona (A Matter of Wedding Photography Edinburgh) on Nov 3, 2009

This is such a fabulous idea. I love the way it turns something so ordinary into something lovely.

ChelleCara on Aug 12, 2010

such a great idea..could be used for alot of different things - its got me thinking of now

ChelleCara on Aug 12, 2010

such a great idea..could be used for alot of different things - its got me thinking of now :D

Nicole @ Glo on Sep 21, 2010

What an adorable and eco-friendly idea!

Andrew Davis on Nov 2, 2010

Those are awesome looking! One of my favorite places here in Portland is Flatbreads, and they have tomato can shades over their lights, which look pretty cool.

Dave Henry on Dec 19, 2010

These are a great idea, I am making them for our wedding at the moment. I am painting the inside as well as outside and found that if you pre-heat your electric oven to about 50-60 degrees C you can dry them in about 20 minutes - Similar to car spray painters. Great when you are doing a big batch of them (Try one first though if using gas oven as not sure how it would go). Also a good idea to put a piece of timber inside the can to give it a bit of strength when drilling, also gets rid of most of the sharp burrs on inside.

Mandy on Apr 2, 2011

Hey guy, Fujian Xiangda Can Making here, exporting Tin Cans and Tin Lids with good quality and low price in China. Call me or send me email, let's talk details. Rds, Mandy Tel.: 86-596-2133022 Fax: 86-596-2133016 Cell phone: 86-18759235015

fine little home on Apr 20, 2011

i love making a simple tin can votive, but never thought of putting a color on the inside, brilliant! i love this idea so much so that i had to feature you on my Earth day DIY post today, thanks for bringing a new modern twist to a very well loved crafty DIY.

Promotional gifts on Aug 12, 2011

They are awesome looking! One of my favorite places here in Portland has buns, and are in shades of tomato can be more light, which seems pretty cool.

Melida on Oct 16, 2011

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cheap promotional bags on Dec 29, 2011

Those are amazing looking! One of my preferred locations here in Tigard is Flatbreads, and they have tomato can pigments over their signals, which look fairly awesome.

Jamie B on Apr 25, 2012

These tin can luminary table numbers are gorgeous... what a super idea for wedding receptions! I hope it's okay, I just couldn't help but feature them on my tin can crafts round-up I just finished. You can see it here: Thank you so much for sharing the tutorial with us :)

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