Making a Tin Can Robot

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June 9, 2014

Tin Can RobotA great way to reuse tin cans is to make a tin can robot! This particular robot took a few hours to put together. I will give step by step instructions for how I put this together, but no robot needs to be alike! Hopefully this project will give you a starting point to make your own, unique tin can robot.


Total Time: 2 to 3 hours

Yield: 1


  • 1 large tin can (the body)
  • 4 small tin cans (arms and legs)
  • 2 sardine cans (the feet)
  • 1 medium sized can (the head)
  • 1 squat tin can (the neck)
  • 1 aluminum pie tin
  • 7 wing nuts
  • lock nuts or nuts and split lock washers
  • 6 ft threaded rods
cans and supplies for making robot.

Imported: Make sure that as you are collecting your cans that you are using "smooth edge" can opener. It allows you to use all the lids that you collect as well as the cans!


  1. I started by assembling the head. I drilled holes in the center of the detached can lid and the bottom of the can.
  2. drilling holes in a can lid.
  3. I then measured a length of threaded rod that would allow me to put nuts on either side. This holds the head together.
  4. threaded dowels for making a tin can robot.

  5. I used a hacksaw to cut the threaded rod. Unfortunately, the side that I cut would often get marred to the point that I couldn't attach a nut and I can to spin the nut from the uncut side. This makes it preferable to buy smaller threaded rods, so that you don't have a lot of waste. You can also put a tin can robot together with heavy gauge wire!
  6. cutting a threaded rod with a hack saw
  7. Assemble the head with lock nuts or nuts and split lock washers.
  8. putting together robot head
  9. Assemble the body by drilling a hole in the top of the can for the head and sides to attach the arms. You will want to set the arm holes a little towards the front of your robot. This will ensure that your threaded rod for the body and head doesn't interfere with the threaded rod for the body. Also, having the arms set forward a bit works fine with the balance of the robot, since the feet extend forward a bit. Be careful drilling holes in the side of the can. It's easy to bend the can and the bit slips easily. Use a nail to pre-punch the hole to keep your bit from slipping.
  10. Attaching arms to the robot.
    drilling holes for arms
    drilling holes for the body rod.

  11. Now you figure out the placement of your legs. Leave enough room between the legs so you can fit the nut to hold the body together.
  12. Find the center of the large can lid.
  13. I used Sharpie to mark up my materials because I eventually will be painting the robot.
  14. Find the center of the can lid.
  15. Drill holes in the center of the top and bottom of 4 cans to form the legs and arms. Then take two of those cans and drill holes through the side, near the top of the can. These holes will be used to attach the arms. Also, measure and drill a hole in each sardine can, which will become the feet. If you want the body parts to be different colors, paint them before you assemble the robot.
  16. layout your robot parts

  17. Measure a rod wide enough to go through the body and both arms to attach the arms. Put a couple washers between the body and the arms so they can move freely. Then bend two lids to become the hands. When attaching nuts to the inside of cans I used a lock nuts, on the outside I used wing nuts, which look cool.
  18. Attaching the arms to the robot.
    bent lids make up the robot hands
    Tin Can Robot
    Tin Can Robot
  19. The body is done!
  20. Tin Can Robot
  21. The lid of the large can will be used to attach the legs. Measure two rods long enough to attach both the legs and feet.
  22. rods to attach the body to legs

  23. I then used a long rod that extended all the way from the head to the bottom of the large can (the body) using two wing nuts. It holds everything together.
  24. securing the head and neck
  25. Here are the legs ready for assembly!
  26. Getting feed and legs ready to attach.
    attaching the legs
  27. Now, thread the legs through the rod.
  28. putting together legs

  29. Using a pie pan, cut two bottoms out for you feet. Then attach the feet using a wing nut. Then you can glue the bottom on the feet.
  30. Tin Can Robot
    Photo of feet with bottoms.
    Tin Can Robot
  31. It's alive! This is the point where my wife saw how cool it looked and decided she was going to paint it.
  32. Tin Can Robot
    robot nearly finished
  33. She ended up painting it a solid color. If you want two different body parts to be different colors, paint the cans before assembly. We used bottle caps for eyes and foil for eyelashes. My once manly robot has become a girl.
  34. Painted robot with no eyes.
    bottle cap and thick foil used to make eyes and eyelashes.
    Attaching the eyes with a screw.
    Another photo with the eyes attached.
    Photo of the finished robot.
  35. But, she's cute! We added some pop tabs to the front, the possibilities are endless.
  36. Photo of the finished robot.
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2 Videos

February 9, 2017

Save your recycled tin or aluminum cans of all sizes to assemble this adorable robot. Learn how to make it in this short video.

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