made with love: stripping tin


Kitchen counter space is in short supply in my apartment (I have about 10” total!) so I’ve been taking every opportunity to maximize wall space for storage. On the design*sponge team’s recent trip to Boston, I found an old wall mounted letter holder to store my kitchen utensils. While I loved the shape (and the little trim around the top) I was less enamored of the new yet dingy aqua paint job. While we all love to do to a good old-fashioned glossy paint job to hide a multitude of sins, sometimes it’s a refreshing change to instead reveal metal’s patina lurking underneath all that paint. -amy m.

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

To strip metal, you’ll need:

– nontoxic paint stripper

– gloves

– scraper and razor blade

– trash bag, tarp or newspapers for work surface

– paint brush

– metal polish

– clean rags


– old toothbrush

– medium grade steel wool

– finishing grade sandpaper

photo 2

1. Brush on paint stripped, following manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t forget to provide proper ventilation.

photo 3

2. Using scraper, remove paint after allotted time. With razor blade, carefully remove any residual paint. For curved or decorative edges like mine, I used an old toothbrush to remove paint from cervices.

photo 4

3. Remove all traces of stripper and if needed lightly scrub with steel wool to remove rust spots. Sand off any scratches.

photo 5

4. With a clean rag and polish.

photo 6

Stephanie May*

Very cool – love the look of it! Are these steps only for tin – or other metals? How do you know if it’s tin or not?

Lydia, Clueless Crafter

While I like the result, I must say I quite liked the white paint. With the back already stripped, it looked like a swirling ying yang and that’s always a powerful visual.


I love Amy’s posts about old things/history. I’ve done a lot of stripping in my day (heehee).
I love the way her little holder turned out. She brought it back to life and didn’t mess with it. Plain and simple and well done. Plus, beautiful little beaded trim on that thing. Lovely detail.


I have been avoiding my next big DIY- stripping paint off a metal cabinet- I had already decided to leave the metal “natural” underneath whatever I remove… so when you say “Polish” what do you mean? And also- I have gotten advice to seal the natural metal with a clear lacquer type product- thoughts? I am ready to go tackle the world now- or at least my project…

amy m.

When i say polish- i mean, just using metal polish (available at any hardware store or grocery) with a rag as per the directions.

It’s a must to seal metal with an oil based poly when it’s going to be exposed to water or humidity. Otherwise, it’s up to you!

You can use the directions for all types of metal!


I like the idea of having a metal utensil holder like this on the kitchen wall. You could use magnets to post a recipe card to it while you’re cooking.


This project gives me hope! I’m mid-way through my own paint-stripping project, and to be frank, right now, it looks like a small mammal exploded inside a vintage medicine cabinet. Guh.


Definitely an improvement – well done! And I admire you taking such effort over a small detail like that – it makes such a difference and I’m so glad you cared enough!


I quite like the look of the stripped back plus painted front too, but I’m a sucker for distressed paintwork. I love the beaded edge on this… a very good find!