The DIY CanFrame: Transform a Tin Can into a Simple Photo Frame in 15 Minutes

Photo cans!Beautiful! Simple! Cylindrical! All the qualities you look for in the finest photo frames, now available in the CanFrame — a simple DIY photo frame project from Photojojo.

Our tutorial will step you through an insanely simple way to show off your photos for the price of a 79 cent can of beans. All you need is the aforementioned can, some glue, a photo, and 15 minutes!

The Ingredient list

  • A great photo — Panoramas work best, but regular photos that can be cropped wider than they are tall also work well.
  • Metal can — Soup, beans, oatmeal, anything with a label should work. We’ve used tin cans and plastic/glass jars.
  • Acid-free rubber cement — We used rubber cement, but stronger stuff will give better results with heavy photo paper.
  • Scissors or cutting blade
  • Tape measure (or a ruler and a calculator)
  • Rubber bands

Step 1: Measure your can

Measure your can's height and widthUse a tape measure to measure the height and circumference of your can. These will be the approximate dimensions of the image you need to print.

(Of course, you’re a smarty and you’ve already figured out that a ruler and a calculator can take the place of a tape measure–just measure the height, then measure the diameter of the top of your can. The can’s circumference is Pi x Diameter of the top.)

Step 2: Print your photo

Use your favorite image editing program to resize your photo to the dimensions you measured earlier. Your image height should match the height of your can, and the length should match the can’s circumference.

To give yourself some wiggle room later, make your image a smidge taller and about a half inch to an inch wider than you measured. Giving yourself extra width is particularly important, as you’ll want some overlap to help the glue set properly.

Finally, the thinner the paper your photo is printed on, the more willing it’ll be to conform to the curvature of your can. We used plain paper with great results, though glossy photo paper worked, too.

Step 3: Cut your photo to size

Cut your photo to sizeOnce printed, use scissors or a cutting blade and ruler to trim your photo to match the height and circumference of your can.

Remember to leave yourself at least a half inch of extra width for overlap and a little extra height. (You can always trim away the excess later if you need to.)

Step 4: Glue your photo to your can

Glue your canTo affix your photo to your can, you can use any kind of strong glue that will bond paper.

Here’s how to form a strong bond if you’re using rubber-cement: Apply your cement to your can and let it dry. As it dries, apply a good coat to the back of your photo. Make sure to glue the overlapping part of the photo so it’ll stick to itself, and press the wet photo to the dry can.

Step 5: Tie it tightly and wait

Rubberband your canTo help the photo bond to the can label, wrap the can tightly with several rubber bands. Make sure you’ve worked out all the air bubbles, and leave the rubber bands and can overnight to ensure a good, solid seal.

Ta da! You’re done!

Where to go from here

So you’ve mastered this simple project. Here are a couple more ideas to take you further…

  • Use your image editor to chop your photos into multiple pieces and use a stack of cans to display them. Each photo needn’t be long enough to wrap around a can, and you can build a whole wall of cans if you blow up your photos large enough.
  • Open and empty your CanFrame and use it as a vase! Taller cans work great.
  • Alternatively, use your CanFrame or a row of CanFrames as a mini planter.
  • Check out these awesome can stacking examples.

Photo Credits: Kevin O’Mara, Rachel Devine, and Marius Mihalache.