Ideas for old wash tubs

Written by tony oldhand
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Ideas for old wash tubs
Washtubs aren't just for doing laundry. (laundry image by Ragne Kabanova from

At first glance, a wash tub is just a boring utilitarian object with only one purpose: to do laundry. A wash tub has, in fact, many other functions, and using it to do laundry is just the beginning. Some pretty individualised ideas are applied to wash tubs, transforming plain old tubs into works of art. With a little ingenuity, a myriad of possibilities exists for a wash tub.

Outdoor Planter

Prime and paint the exterior of the washtub with good quality exterior paints made for metal. With contrasting colours, paint some colourful and decorative designs on it. Mount 5 or 6 small wheels on the bottom near the rim and you have an outdoor planter. Fill the planter up with dirt, and place some plants in it to make an attractive addition to your patio or deck

Washtub Upright Bass

Folk musicians commonly make upright basses out of washtubs by turning the wash tub upside-down, and threading a thin rope through a hole in the bottom. A steel pipe about 4 feet long rests on the lip of the upside-down tub, and the rope is tied off to the top of the pipe. String tension is provided by pulling back on the pipe. These musical instruments are very simple to make, and plans are readily available.

Ideas for old wash tubs
Make a primitive form of a bass with a washtub. (Acoustic Bass Guitar image by Bruce MacQueen from

Parts Cleaning Bin

A wash tub makes an ideal parts cleaning bin if you like to work on cars. Due to its large size, it holds many parts nicely, and you can use parts cleaning solutions, available at any auto parts stores, to clean your parts without making a mess.

Barbecue Grill

You can make a barbecue grill out of an old washtub. You need some metalworking tools, a 1x1-inch angle iron and grates, either out of an old refrigerator or bought at the camping supply section of many large stores. Cut, fit and bolt on sturdy legs with cross braces, and cut and fit the grates in, using some angle iron or angle brackets as supports. Punch or bore 8 equally spaced holes (about 1-inch diameter) around the sides near the bottom to allow for air draw. If you do not have the tools or equipment to do this, any metalworking shop can do this for you.

Steel Drum

Make a steel drum, which is often used in Caribbean music. Turn the tub upside-down. Build a sturdy framework out of a 1x1-inch angle iron to support the upside-down tub about waist high. Prime and paint the tub in bright colours, and you have a steel drum.

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