Making a Metal Lunch Box Look Brand New, A Recycling Project

I started with a really ugly lunch box that I bought at a thrift store. Near the end of the video, you’ll see a cardboard insert that was in the lunch box that shows you what the outside of the box looked like before I spray painted it. To spray paint a lunch box, you need to put masking tape around the handle and the metal closure on the front. Let it dry thoroughly and make sure it’s open when you spray it and let it dry. If you have made some mistakes with your spray paint, it won’t matter, as no one will see it.. Pick a napkin pattern that you like…You’ll need up to four napkins to finish this lunchbox if you use the longer dinner size.  If you use the small square napkins, you might need up to six of them.
I separated the plies of napkin by putting a piece of washi tape on the back of the napkin and rubbing it so it’s well adhered. I gently pulled the tape while holding the top of the napkin and the two will separate. To adhere the napkin, I used a Mod Podge like product, called Art Minds Decoupage Glue and Sealer (from Michaels) in a mat finish–link: sure you use a coupon at Michaels that you can always find on their website and take to the store with you, or download on your phone. I brushed the glue on with a foam brush starting on the top of the box, and covering the whole top with glue. Don’t be shy about adding the glue, there should be a generous coat on the lunch box…lay your napkin on the top and starting from the center, gently laying the napkin down so no wrinkles form. If you like some wrinkles, leave them in. You can also add some Distress Stains (link: on the wrinkles if you want to make the project look more antique. I didn’t cut the napkin until after I glued around the edges down to the lip and once this is glued down, cut the excess napkin off. It’s a lot easier to trim the napkin if you wait for the glue to dry, but I’m not that patient.  If you tear the napkin or a small piece tears off, simply find another piece of napkin that looks similar to the spot that tore, and glue it in place. Once you’ve got the napkin glued down, add another coat of glue on top of the napkin so it’s well coated. Make sure you don’t glue past the opening, or you won’t be able to open your lunch box again.
Let the top dry with the lunch box open so the glue doesn’t glue the top shut.…make sure it’s well dried before you flip it over. This time I cut the napkin so it didn’t have a lot of excess before gluing it down, then glued it the same way I glued the top. I only glued napkin to the spot on the lunch box that is raised (about 1/2″ from the bottom.) After I laid the napkin in place and trimmed it to fit, I added another layer of glue to the top of the napkin. For the center section, I cut the center length out of two napkins that were roughly the same height as the middle of the lunch box about 2 1/2″ (that had no napkin on it.) If you have a guillotine paper trimmer, it’s easy to cut the napkin before you take the back off the napkin. I started by cutting the napkin on the right edge, so I could slide it around the metal piece that holds the handle, put glue down and then laid the napkin in place and wrapped it around the left side of the lunch box and around the back. I had to cut a second napkin to finish wrapping it around the lunch box, glued the lunch box and laid the napkin around to the front.   I cut a piece out of left end of the napkin where the metal piece that holds the handle on the lunch box would be as well as the spot under the handle that stretches to the other handle (and kept the piece I cut out) so I could lay it around and under the handle.  Then glued under the handle and laid the strip I cut out under the handle and then put glue over the napkin on all four sides.  Make sure the lunch box is open when it’s drying, to ensure you don’t glue it shut.
There’s a cardboard insert inside the lunch box that had a white side…I put the glue on the cardboard piece (on the white side) then laid the napkin over it and then trimmed the edges. After it’s trimmed, I added another layer of the Art Minds Decoupage glue on top of the napkin so it is sealed.
You can add another layer of the glue to ensure a great water tight seal if you choose. This was fun to do and will turn last year’s lunch box into something new and different….and doesn’t take much time or money to do….

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