Reusing discarded items in crafts is an eco-friendly way to stretch your creative muscles without expanding your carbon footprint. Oil drums are often carted away to rust in landfills, but a keen creative eye sees the potential for a variety of art and craft projects that transforms the industrial objects into useful or decorative pieces for your home or yard.
Standard oil drums are a suitable size for a variety of furniture crafts. After your oil drum has been professionally cleaned, an angle grinder is appropriate for making cuts to adjust the shape and height of the drum. An oil drum with the top cut off and a U-shape cut from one of the long sides needs only a stack of padding or cushions in the bottom of the drum to serve as an adult seat. For children, cut the drum in half first before using the grinder to slice away a U-shaped section from one side. Drums that are cut and painted are also useful as small side tables or footstools. Before you use the drums as furniture, sand and coat the edges with epoxy or adhesive rubber strips to avoid cuts from sharp points.
Emptied oil drums are an unexpected surface for painting images or messages. Metal paints are specially formulated to react and adhere to metal for a permanent, chip-free finish. Oil drums painted with natural scenes such as plants and flowers are useful as community recycling bins in schools or offices. If you are a more advanced crafter, consider creating an interactive oil drum painting in which the inside of the drum is painted with an image or colour that opposes the outside of the drum so that the viewer must look into the drum for a complete view.
Large yards are ideal for outdoor parties, and oil drums offer one method for lighting your outdoor space. An angle grinder cuts the drum into several hollow cylinders several inches to several feet wide. Use a permanent marker to sketch a simple design made of out small dots. Consider whimsical shapes such as abstract suns or geometrical designs for the best effect. At each dot, hammer a nail through the spot so that it leaves a hole. When you've finished hammering all of your holes, line the bottom of the cylinder with a circular piece of wood. Place several candles or battery operated LED lights inside the cylinder for a romantic country craft that will light up your yard.
Though oil drums may be associated with potential harm to the environment, an oil drum repurposed into a planter promotes a healthy environment and vibrant garden. An angle grinder cuts the drum in half lengthwise, leaving you with two hollow troughs suitable for holding soil and seeds. If you don't like the industrial look of the drums, give them a coat of sparkly spray paint or paint your own design using metal paints to add colour to your garden. Use a hammer and nails to create drainage holes in the bottom of your drum, and then fill the drum halves with your favourite pebbles, soil and plants. If you are particularly handy, you might also opt to suspend the drums from a porch roof or free-standing awning using copper or stainless steel chains, but ensure the integrity and strength of the structure before filling the troughs with soil.