Surprise Dad with the Smallest Toolbox Ever!
Altoid Tin Mini Toolboxes for Father’s Day
I’ve been wanting to craft with Altoid tins since forever. Have you ever googled all the things you can make with them? It’s mind-blowing. It makes me wonder if Altoid stays in business more for their tins or for their curiously strong mints. I vote for tins. But then I’m not a real big fan of curiously strong mints.
I thought about it and thought about it and decided these tins would make a great caddy for holding collections of little odds and ends. Like screws and nuts and bolts and stuff! Things that dads need. Why not make an Altoid-Tin Nuts and Bolts Screw Organizer! And THEN I thought of making it look like a little red toolbox! I love miniature things with a passion. Give me anything at five percent of its actual size and I will swoon. Seriously.
While I realize that dads might not be into little mini toolboxes as much as I am, I still thought it would be a fun craft to do for Father’s Day. Why not? A dad who gets this as a gift could stick it in his big huge honkin’ toolbox and every time he lifts that lid to grab a socket wrench or something, it would remind him that somebody loves him enough to make a toolbox out of an Altoid tin just for him. Think of the effort and thought that goes into such a gift! Sure, you could just make a photo magnet and that would work the same, but then what fun would that be for all of us handy-crafter types?
Let’s get crackin’, shall we?
First off a disclaimer: I realize that this is not exactly a craft that you can do with your small kids. Yes, there will be sharp objects involved and some spray paint too. I recommend that you do this craft with older children (like maybe teenagers or very mature 10-and-ups) and let the little ones stand by and watch. They can add a card later or help you select the nails and screws to put inside. Do not be sad. I have a small-kid-friendly craft at the end of this post. If this is not your cup of tea, skip on ahead.
These are the materials you will need:
- At least 2 Altoid tins
- A metal eye strap. These are actually used on boats for attaching chains and clips and line, etc. We will use them for our little itty bitty tool box handles. Ask your local hardward store employee to help you find these.
- Two blunt-ended very small sheet-metal screws. I don’t know the size exactly but you want them small enough to not take up too much room inside the tin.
- 20-gauge beading wire or something similar
- Spray paint for metal, one can of primer and one can of glossy red. (use outside or in a very-well-ventilated area)
- a hammer
- a big nail
- a little nail
- a flat screwdriver
First you will need to gather your Altoid tins. To create the traditional double-decker model you will need two tins. If you want to make a bigger toolbox just add more tins. If the dad in your life is an auto mechanic with one of those really big roll-around style toolboxes then you might want to stack four or five, depending on how much time and work you want to put into this. The single model is still quite cute and functional in my opinion.
After you empty your tins of the Altoid mints, you can disassemble the lid from the bottom if you like, by simply prying open the simple hinges on the back with a flat screwdriver. I tried detaching the lids and leaving them attached and it worked both ways for me. Detaching them gave me better paint coverage but leaving them attached caused less wear and tear on the hinges. So it’s up to you.
Next you will need to create the holes that you will use to wire the boxes together (if you are creating multi-drawer toolboxes) and to attach the handle. For the handle holes, use a large construction nail and a hammer to gently tap a hole through the lid. Measure first by scratching a circle through the screw holes of the handle with your large nail. Then tap your holes.
For the smaller holes that you will use to wire the tins together, use a small picture-hanging type nail or brad. It’s important that your holes match up, so do this carefully. Make sure that the holes inside the top tin match up with the holes that will go through the lid of the bottom tin. I actually tapped my holes through both tins at the same time and that made it a bit easier.
Now it’s time to spray-paint! Outside, or in a very well-ventilated area paint all your tins with a primer coat. Let that dry and then paint with the red. I did two coats. This part is easy enough. Just make sure you let them dry long enough so that you don’t create any tacky fingerprints.
After the paint has thoroughly dried, it’s time for assembly. Resist the urge to call your kid’s father for help. That will completely blow the surprise. You can do this. It’s not as hard as it looks. If you need a little help ask for a little foot to help you hold your tool box still. Just be careful not to stab that little foot with your screwdriver.
It doesn’t really matter if you wire the tins together first or attach the handle first. The only thing that matters is that you make sure your tins are facing the right direction. You don’t want your mini toolbox to open accordion style. For the wiring part you will need to cut a short length of wire, probably three to four inches. Lace it through the holes, twist and then bend your ends down and cut them short. Attach your handle with screws and a screwdriver. Be gentle though because you don’t have a lot of room for error. If your screw hole becomes too big, you’ll probably be stuck glue-gunning the handle on or just starting over.
And that’s it! You now have the world’s cutest Altoid-tin mini toolbox! Fill with your bits and bolts of choice and you’re done!
So let’s say you’re not into this whole girl-gets-down-and-dirty-with-manly-man-tools thing, you don’t want to use a hammer and a screwdriver and God forbid some wire-cutters and spray paint. Well, do not fret! I have just the craft for you! OR maybe you need a little something-something that the kids can make just for Dad.
Here is a downloadable pdf that you can print out, let the kids color and then use a decoupage sealer (like Mod Podge) to the top of your Altoid tins. Decoupage sealer is the easiest way to affix paper to the top of something metal. It goes on thick and white and can be a little scary but when it dries, it’s clear and holds better than contact paper.
If you don’t want to color my funky designs then use the plain template and make up your own cover. An old photo, a small rectangle from a map of a favorite place, your kid’s art… anything that can be glued down will work for this.