Introduction: Jerry Can Cabinet

Picture of Jerry Can Cabinet

A few weeks back I came across an ad of a Jerry can. However, it was not just an ordinary jerry can but it was converted into a liquor cabinet. I liked the looks and the idea of it but there were some design features which I was not a fan of, such as a door that opened downwards. Furthermore the price, a bit over 700 USD, was to high for me. This is why I decided to try to make my own, which I managed to do for about 70 USD.

In this instructable you will be guided to create your own jerry can cabinet with an exchangeable shelve combination. I will provide you with the shelve combination which I have created for my camera equipment but feel free to customize it so it fits your needs. If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments and also post the results of your jerry can cabinet.

Step 1: What You Will Need

For this instructable you will need the following:


  • An old cleaned or new jerry can
  • Wood
  • Hinges
  • Knob
  • Rubber lipping
  • Screws + bolts + washers


  • Dremel with cutting blade
  • Angle grinder with cutting blade
  • Band saw (or a jigsaw)
  • Metal file
  • Whiteboard marker, pen
  • Try square (optional, ruler works as well)
  • Sandpaper
  • Plainer
  • (Pillar) Drill + drill bit

Step 2: Decide on the Door Size

Picture of Decide on the Door Size

Before cutting out the door of the jerry can, it is a good idea to decide on how large you want the door to be. I used a whiteboard marker taped to a try square to mark different door sizes. After having tried 3 different door sizes (25mm, 30mm and 35 mm in from the side) I decided to use the one that measured 30 mm from the outside of the jerry can.

I put tape over the lines to not accidently erase them while cutting as well as to be able to draw a thinner line on top of the thick whiteboard marker line.

Step 3: Cut Out the Door

Picture of Cut Out the Door

The door can either be cut out using a dremel or an angle grinder.

I started of using a dremel but quickly came to the conclusion that it would take much time which is why I switched to an angle grinder. Another advantage with the angle grinder was that it created a wider cut, due to the wider cutting wheel, which would have been needed anyway to be able to fit the rubber stripe and still close the door properly. When using an angle grinder, help to hold the jerry can in place is recommended, preferably not by just a foot as in this case but by an extra set of hands. In this case a foot had to do to be able to document the process.

Lastly, the corners of the door were cut using a dremel to be able to create as round corners as possible. As always when cutting metal, sharp edges form which is why one should watch their hands. Use gloves and a metal file to round and remove the sharp edges.

Step 4: Add Rubber Stripe and Adjust

Picture of Add Rubber Stripe and Adjust

Add the rubber stripe over the edges and test the fitment of the door. As can be seen from the third photo the door did not fit as expected right away, which is why the corners were adjusted and cut to have a larger radius using a dremel and a metal file.

Step 5: Measure and Design Inside of Jeep Can

Picture of Measure and Design Inside of Jeep Can

The next step will be to create the inside shelves of the Jerry can. Depending on what you want to store in your Jerry can you should think about how you design the inside. The design I used is for camera equipment and I decided to use locking joints to be able to remove and add another shelve combination later on if I want to.

Since the measures might vary slightly depending on the brand of the Jerry can, start by measuring the inside of the Jerry can and from this create your design. I used Autodesk Inventor to first cad the whole assembly to better visualize the inside.

To make sure that my measurements were correct, I made a template for the bottom piece to try the fitment in the Jerry can, and luckily it did ;).

The drawings I used to create my shelf are appended below.

Step 6: Build the Shelves (the Inside)

Picture of Build the Shelves (the Inside)

To construct your design, start by plaining the wood for the shelves; in this case it was plained down to 12 mm. Then use the templates to draw the outline of the various pieces onto the wood. Having done this, it is time to cut out the different pieces, preferably using a band saw. Since the Jerry can has an indentation in the middle on the short side, half a 20 mm hole was made using a pillar drill. In each corner, 6 mm in from the edges, a 3 mm wide and 8 mm deep hole was drilled for the support pillars. A tip is to put a piece of wood between the clamp and the wood for the shelf to not damage the planks for the shelf by the pressure of the clamp.

Following was some fine tuning by sanding the edges and the locking joints to make sure that they fitment was perfect. Remember to sand with the veins of the wood for the best result.

Finally, supporting pillars were made with a dimension of 12x12x(the length between the shelves) mm. A 12 mm deep hole was drilled into these, which could then be filled with a 20 mm long, 3 mm in diameter plug.

Step 7: Prepare and Assemble the Doors

Picture of Prepare and Assemble the Doors

The next step will be to fit the door and the door knob. To find good looking hinges took some time, but at last I found chromed hinges at a boat retail store. So if you, like me, want chromed hinges a tip is to look at your local boat store. Measure half the width of the hinges and decide on a suitable height and mark where you want to fit the hinges using a nail or something sharp. I fitted the hinges at 15 mm in from the edge and at a height of 100 and 270 mm.

To make sure that you drill the hole where you want, start drilling with a thin drill bit, preferably 1 or 2 mm in diameter, and then switch to the wider one (in my case 4 mm) which matches the bolts you have bought (M4 in my case).

Mount the hinges and cut the rubbing strip to correct dimensions. From this the placement for the holes on the door can easily be obtained by putting in the door with the rubbing strip mounted on it to get the correct position. Carry out the same drill procedure as presented earlier and Woalah! The door is mounted.

Lastly, but not least, mount the door knob, once more using the same drilling procedure. I mounted the doorknob at 45 mm from the door side and at a height of 180 mm from the lower side of the door.

Step 8: Assemble Shelves

Picture of Assemble Shelves

The final step will be to assemble the planks to form the shelves for the cabinet. Depending on how you designed your shelves this may be a very easy or simple step.

Step 9: Fill and Enjoy

Picture of Fill and Enjoy

Find a nice place to store and more importantly to showcase your new awesome cabinet.

Thank you for making it all the way to the end. I hope you enjoyed this instructable and that you will try to make your own jerry can cabinet. If you have any questions I will gladly answer them in the comments and be sure to post a few pictures if you make a jerry can cabinet in the comments!

Have a nice day, Tim


Budgiecake (author)2017-11-28

love this, i tried something similar with a smaller petrol Tim but didn't work out as well as o wanted, this looks really sleek. nice one!

joshpit2003 (author)2017-10-15

Dang, this thing is awesome! The only thing I would do different is attempt to hide the hinge by perhaps mounting it inside and securing with red rivets. very cool.

Thank you! It is nice to see that tastes are different, I actually liked how the chrome handle and hinges stand out from the rest.

joshpit2003 (author)2017-11-18

Looks like the original creators (?) are now on Kickstarter:

Yeah, this is the company at which I found selling them as bar cabinets for around 700 USD. Their cabinets look really good though ;)

Mickleblade (author)2017-10-10

I love it, and I've got one in the garage doing nothing 'cos the nozzle seal leaks and it's too heavy to use. But as a box or cupboard? hmm....

Thanks! Haha start the project and see how it turns out ;)

Dang dude, great job!!

Thanks! I like you knives!

Why thank you very much! :)

CraftAndu (author)2017-09-17

Now this is really cool. Good luck in contest!

timdekker1825 (author)CraftAndu2017-09-20

Thank you :D

Skyfinder (author)2017-09-01

REALLY REALLY REALLY beautiful, and I talk how photography lover... but considering the professional hardware used, the TIME of working, the CAD not so McGyver ;D

timdekker1825 (author)Skyfinder2017-09-01

Thanks a lot!

And I totally agree with you that the methods used not really are McGyver style, but I thought the idea was a bit McGyver which is why I added it into the MacGyver competition as well :)

skipernicus (author)2017-08-27

I wish you had red enameled hinges to match the can - nonetheless, you got my vote. Cool project!

Thank you Skipernicus! It is nice to see that tastes vary, I actually liked how the hinges and the door knob deviate from the red jerry can.

Starman2112 (author)2017-08-24

I saw one of these for $80 and didn't want to pay that much for it so thanks for posting yours! I wanted to ask what kind of rubber strip you used and where you got it.

I felt the same way. However, I only found them for $700, where did you find it for $80? And if you make it yourself you can be proud about it and get compliments from people ;)

I bought the rubber strip at a swedish store selling car parts and accessories (Biltema) but I managed to find what I believe is the same product on Amazon for a lower price.

I hope that this will help you!

ScottJ128 (author)timdekker18252017-08-25

Thanks! I ordered it and will have it Sunday so I'm looking forward to making one myself! Here's one I saw for $80 that I was looking at: I won't be doing anything that involved! There's this one as well but still a little pricey:

I paid $20 for the can and I'll have another $12 in the rubber strip so it'll cost less, I'll enjoy making it and will have pride in knowing that I made it!

timdekker1825 (author)ScottJ1282017-08-25

Sweet, be sure to post a picture of the final result and let me know if you have any more questions!

Ah I see, searched for it on google and came across this website
where they are really expensive haha.

That's the spririt! Good luck making it!

EnjeckC (author)2017-08-23

Wow. Nicely done

timdekker1825 (author)EnjeckC2017-08-24

Thank you Enjeck!

dan adams (author)2017-08-21

This is really cool. So creative! Great work Tim!

timdekker1825 (author)dan adams2017-08-23

Thank you for the nice words Dan!

NepgearGo (author)2017-08-21

I wish I could make one, but I just read a horror story of someone trying to grab a running belt sander that flew of the desk and I'm a bit scared that it would happen to me if I use a grinder too.

timdekker1825 (author)NepgearGo2017-08-21

I understand your concern but since the jerry can is quite thin the angle grinder is easy to controll. However, if you have not used an angle grinder before it is a good idea to do some test cutting on something else before. That is what I did, and after having cut a few test pieces I think I mastered it good enough to use it as I did in this instructable.

NepgearGo (author)2017-08-19

This is one of the coolest stuffs I've ever seen.

timdekker1825 (author)NepgearGo2017-08-21

Thank you, it makes me very glad to hear it!

NepgearGo (author)timdekker18252017-08-21

I wish I could make one, but I just read a horror story of someone trying to grab a running belt sander that flew of the desk and I'm a bit scared that it would happen to me if I use a grinder too.

Millie-Feuille (author)2017-08-18

This is so fantastically quirky! Looks like something you'd buy in the stores, I would if I had my very own garage! Great job! :)

Thank you very much for the kind words! Yeah, I'm also very satisfied with how it turned out :)

Fritsie (author)2017-08-17

This is great. Whish I could make such nice cabinet. It is perfect!

timdekker1825 (author)Fritsie2017-08-19

Thank you for the kind words Fritsie!

sean.finch.92 (author)2017-08-16

Cool idea, I need some thing like that

Thank you. You should give it a try!

KathyD85 (author)2017-08-15

This is so cool, I love you decided to make an Instructables plus it's a double exciting one for me because you made a CAMERA case out of it, BRAVO DUDE LOVE IT

timdekker1825 (author)KathyD852017-08-16

Thank you very much, it makes me glad to hear it!

Capt Caveman (author)2017-08-15

Very cool idea, well planned and effectively engineered although I would of used piano hinges and hid them inside the unit.

Well done and a vote for you is going on as I type...look forward to seeing much more from you, again Well Done

Thank you very much for the kind words. Yeah piano hinges could also be an option, however, I liked the way of matching the door knob with the hinges. That is the thing with this instructable, it is easy to add your own touch and customize it as you prefer.

kylegilbert (author)2017-08-16

Really nice instructions here. The project turned out great!

Thank you very much! Yes I'm also really happy with how it turned out.

Eh Lie Us! (author)2017-08-15

damn clever idea. I have an old jerry can and this might be the thing to do.

one thing that I'm going to change up is that i'll drill the holes for the hinges BEFORE cutting the door out with an angle grinder. I learned that the hard way.

timdekker1825 (author)Eh Lie Us!2017-08-15

Yeah, you should do it, makes for a great decoration piece while it helps with organizing!

Just make sure it is empty and cleaned properly before you start cutting so no fuel gets exposed to sparks.

That is a good point which should make the process quicker.

brad ley (author)2017-08-15

Did you make a latch or magnetic catch to hold the door closed? Or does the friction from the rubber seal suffice?
Awesome instructable!!! Thank you. Voted...

timdekker1825 (author)brad ley2017-08-15

Thank you for the compliment and votes!

At first I was thinking that I would add a bracket with a magnet but later in the build I realized that the friction from the rubber seal was enough to keep the door shut which is why I went with that solution.

caofcaof (author)2017-08-14

Awesome! It's a fantastic idea. But i think you should add some foam into the cabinet for anti-shock purpose.

DodgeD (author)caofcaof2017-08-15

Your thought on the anti-shock to me is the most important comment of all; of what should have been addressed in this other wise nice project because with out protection whats the point of it all? The whole theme is to transport; expensive camera equipment safely in this application.This was an important ingredient in this cake that was missed . I give your comment a 10 out of 10 .

timdekker1825 (author)DodgeD2017-08-15

Thanks for the reflection! However, for me this project was about organizing my camera gear at home and not about transportation of camera gear.

If one would like to transport their camera gear in a jerry can they should definitely add padding as well as having a lock/mechanism on the door to keep it shut better and maybe wheels at the bottom to more easily transport it since it will get quite heavy. But that is a project for another instructable.

timdekker1825 (author)caofcaof2017-08-15

Thank you!

That is a very good point
if the cabinet would have been used as a mean of transportation for
camera gear, since you will probably destroy your gear if you would walk
around with it as is. However, for me this is a cabinet to organize my
gear and not to move it around so that is why I have not added padding
to have more space for storage :)

DutchieBfd (author)2017-08-14

There are few people I want to be perfectionists, but you just made the best case possible for DIYers!
Your tutorial is very well laid out, and the jerrry can cabinet beautifully and superbly made.
(I do love your mother's workshop, too!! :-)
This is the best documented and executed project I have ever seen. As interesting to read (and watch) as some of the best thrillers!

About This Instructable




Bio: Student, currently studying for my masters degree in Automotive Engineering. Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. Car nerd living in Sweden.
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