How to Make A 3-Tiered Tray Using Vintage Tins

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Square feature image of a tall 3-tiered tray made from candy and cookie vintage tins on a desk with vintage postcards in the background.

Learn how to make a 3-tiered tray using vintage tins!

In this DIY I’ll show you how to make a beautiful tiered tray using vintage tins that you can pick up for just a few dollars at almost any garage sale or flea market.

As a base for my tray, I decided to use an old wooden paper towel holder that I found at the thrift store. I actually see these a lot at Goodwill and other area thrift stores in my area but not to worry if you can’t find one! Just pick up a wooden dowel from the hardware store.

Photo of three tins and a wooden paper towel used in this 3-Tiered Tray DIY.

Another thing to think about is a stable base for your tiered tray. Tin has a little give to it so adding some kind of base will help stabilize things. You can use anything from a square of plywood to a round disc of woodcraft board.

So gather up your vintage tins and take a look at the photos and detail below to learn how to turn them into a fun 3-tiered organizer!


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How to Make a 3-Tiered Tray Using Vintage Tins – 5 Easy Steps

Horizontal photo of a finished 3-tiered tray made out of vintage tins with postcards and clipboards in the background.

STEP 1: Cut The Dowel

If you’re using a wooden paper towel holder, take it apart by unscrewing all of the pieces.

Next, cut the center dowel down to size using a chop saw. My two dowel pieces are 5 inches long which gives me plenty of room between tins.

Note: If you’re using a wooden paper towel holder like this one do not cut the screw ends. Cut the dowel in the middle. We will be using the original screws and parts.

Center dowel cut with a chop saw and drill and drill bits shown to make a hole that will work for a 3/16 x 2-inch dowel screw.
Photo of supplies used and a dowel cut to size.

STEP 2: Drill A Hole In Each Tin

Drill holes into the center of each tin.

Photo of drilling a hole in the center of each vintage tin.
Drill a hole into the center of each tin.

STEP 3: Pre-Drill Dowels

Pre-drill a hole (straight down) into the center of both dowels (the ends that you just cut). Drill at least 1 inch deep.

Note: You want to drill a hole that is slightly smaller in diameter than your dowel screw so the screw will go in easily but have wood to catch onto. I found that a 9/64 bit worked well when using a 3/16 x 2-inch dowel screw.

Photo of a pilot hole being drilled into a dowel to make a 3-tiered tray.
Pre-drill a hole into both dowel ends at least 1 inch deep.

Tip: Use two cellulose sponges to protect your dowel from damage when using a vice grip.


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STEP 4: Add A Dowel Screw

Use pliers to screw the dowel screw into the end of one of the dowels that you pre-drilled.

Horizontal photo of a dowel screw.
Dowel Screw
Photo of pliers hand twisting a 3/16 x 2 inch dowel screw into a pre-drilled hole in a dowel to make a tiered tray.

STEP 5: Assemble

Now it’s time to assemble everything! Here, I used the existing screws on my paper towel holder to secure the top and bottom tins and a dowel screw in the center to connect the two dowels that meet in the middle.

Photo of bottom tin placed on the existing paper towel holder wood base.

Screw the top dowel in place by screwing it onto the end of the dowel screw.

Photo of the top dowel being screwed in to make a 3-Tiered Tray.

Secure the top tin. Here I used the topper from my paper towel holder but if you are using candle holders or dowels, pre-drill a hole and secure the tin with a long Philips head screw and add a metal washer for more stability.

Photo of the top tin in place and the original wood screw top to the paper towel holder being screwed back in place.
Secure the top tin.
Vertical photo of a finished 3-tiered tray made with vintage tins to Pin to your Pinterest craft boards to come back to later!

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