14 February 2007

Baby food jars as hardware containers

Speaking of reusing food containers...Ted's hack reminded me of the million-odd bottles of random hardware bits scattered across my dad's garage. My dad is well-known for NEVER throwing anything away. He's even got a few baby food jars in there, even though I haven't eaten baby food for about 37 years:

My hack happened after throwing out countless baby food jars. A while back I read (I don't remember the book) about one way to re-use them.  Use them as a way to store screws, nuts and bolts.  What I have done is I screw the lid to the bottom of my work bench that is in our garage, and when I'm done with the jar, I can just screw the jar back onto the lid.  It's great because the clear jar allows me to see what's in it at a glance, I also write the size of the screw (if I know it), on the bottom of the lid, and by keeping it under my workbench, it keeps things out of the way.

Anyways, I'm hoping you can post this on your site, and ask your readers if they know of other ways to re-use baby food jars, because I only have so many types of screws, nuts, and bolts, so I still end up throwing out a lot of jars.

My dad uses old baby food jars to store bulk spices. You can make cool mini snow globes out of them. Any other suggestions?

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We used baby food jars to hold a spice mix that we gave away as x-mas gifts. We hot-glued fabric to the lid, added directions for using the mix on a pretty ribbon, filled the jar with enough mix to make the recipe, and off they went.

the spice mix makes fabulous spiced pecans. :) you only need a few tablespoons, so the baby size jar is perfect.

Holding buttons. I have six million extra buttons that came with clothing that I no longer own--I've stored them in various baby food jars over the years. (why am I keeping the buttons when the clothes are gone? your dad would understand.)

As an art teacher, we used them as small mixing palettes or for water while painting with watercolors. They take up little storage room, clean easily and are the perfect size for one per child.

I use them for various sewing notions and small craft items like confetti or small foam stickers. We also have lots of the plastic baby food containers that I used to freeze homemade baby food when my daughter was still eating it. Now I use them to pack snacks in and to keep her barettes and pony-tail holders in. Use could put these in the jars too.

For older kids, you can make a nice "stained glass" votive candle holder. With white glue and tiny pieces of colored tissue paper, use a paint brush to flatten them against the outside of the baby food jar. Wrinkles in the paper actually look good, so don't worry about it getting smooth. When dry, fill it an inch with sand and put in a small tea light/votive candle.

The name of the forgotten book mentioned in the post is "Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff" by Lori Baird. It is a very useful book. I read it from cover to cover! It's a great book to keep in the bathroom for those short reading spells! :) Here is the Amazon link to it:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1579545122/squalorsurviv-20

Screw or nail the lids to a board. Hang the board over your work bench (I've seen them screwed right in to the floor beams of a basement workshop). Fill the glass jars w/ nails, screws, nuts, bolts, etc. then screw the jars to the lids. All of your "little things" are now in neat & easy-to-see/reach storage containers.

I use them to keep my jewelry making supplies in nice, neat order. It is much cheaper than buying a specially made bead keeper and they take up very little room in my craft area.

My dad used the jars much as you do, for screws, nails, brads, and the whathaveyou of the shop. But he nailed the lids to a low overhead beam, and reached up to get what he needed. He liked the 'no bending' part. :-)

I save pillar candles that burn straight down and then pick out the metal wick holder with a knife. I microwave them all together in a big glass measuring cup and pour them into baby food jars. I add lengths of wick and wick holders while the wax is still liquid and voila! more candles.

You can get the wicks and wick holders from any craft store.

By 'I've seen them screwed right in to the floor beams of a basement workshop' I meant the beams of the floor above.

This was a preferred technique in the shops on our farm when I was a kid, and I used to see this in all sorts of workshops. But has anyone noticed the way they've changed the threads on baby food jars? I assume it's to make it tougher to reuse them, since you can't really trust the seal and the lid doesn't really screw back on the way the lid of a jelly jar does. Someone must have sued Gerber when some homemade baby mayo made Junior sick. I've actually thought about hitting estate sales and watching for these in old men's workshops.

Besides all the storage potential mentioned above (and any other small things you can imagine), lots of people use them for crafts. Snowglobes and candles are nice, as above. A teacher I know has kids glue tissue paper pieces all over them to make a pretty container for small candies as a gift.

But if you are not crafty yourself - save them up and give them to a school or library for large-scale craft time. They will be delighted! One of the holdups on making crafts like these with a group is collecting the jars if you don't have your own baby. I have been a hero to a few for giving up a box here and a box there out of my stash.

INSTEAD OF THROWING THEM AWAY, FIND A RECYCLING CENTER TO RECYCLE THEM

My grand daughters baby food jars are plastic(this was news to me since all my experience was with glass) I use them to keep stuff separate in my tackle box without worrying about broken glass when the box is rattling around in the boat.

Rob from http://www.canvaspress.com

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