5 Craft Projects You Can Do With a Hammer and Nails

A trio of string in red, white, and blue colors next to string art and a pile of nails on a wood board.

Have you ever had that crafting itch, but really didn't want to run to the store for supplies or get into anything super complicated or technical? If so, you'll love the projects we have for you below because you can do them with just a hammer and nails. All you'll need in addition to those two are a few basic things you'll find around your home such as string or yarn, tin cans, a strong cardboard tube, old picture frames, and scraps of wood.

1. String and Word Art

If you're not familiar with string art, it's something very easy to learn, especially for kids. To get started, first decide what artwork you'd like to create. It could be as simple as a heart shape or a name, or it can be more complicated and you can use a pattern printed off the internet. Next, you'll need a base that you can nail into. This could be an old cutting board or piece of wood.

To create your project, all you have to do is use your nails, which can be any size, and hammer them into the wood to create your pattern in whatever way you'd like. You can use as many or as few nails as you'd like as well as whatever types and colors of string you'd like to use such as crochet thread, twine, or yarn. Next, simply weave your string between the nails back and forth to create your artwork design. As you connect the string from nail to nail, you'll start to see your art take form.

2. Tin Can Candle Holders

A pair of cans with holes punched as a design and light shining through.

Image via Inhabitat

Creating tin can candle holders using a hammer, a nail, and a recycled can is a simple DIY project. After you collect some aluminum cans, remove the labels and wash them out. Using a marker, draw whatever pattern you'd like onto the can. Next, fill your can with water and freeze it. The ice will keep the can from collapsing as you punch the holes into your marked design with a nail. Once you're done, you can add a wax or battery operated candle for a beautifully lit look that will shine through the nail holes.

3. Aluminum Signs

A sign made of stamped metal.

Image via LivingSimplePunchTin

By using soda cans, a piece of wood, a hammer, and nails, you can make some interesting and creative signs. To start, carefully cut the top and bottom off of your soda can. Next, cut down the center of the can and unfold it with brand side facing down and make it as flat as you can using your hammer. Attach it to your wood base, plain side up, using one nail in each corner, one nail in the center top, and one in the center bottom.

Once it's attached to the base, use a marker to draw out your word, name, or design. Next, use your hammer and nail as a punch along the design lines. Add the pop can tabs to the top to use as wall hangers and to showcase just what materials you used to create your artwork from.

4. Rainstick

Making a rainstick is a great project for a party or as a fun activity with your kids. All you'll need in addition to your hammer and small nails is a strong cardboard tube (like the ones a poster comes in); some beans, beads, or other items to use as noisemakers; and some glue and paper to decorate it with. Tap the small nails into the tube at random so that there is one nail every few inches or so. The nails should be tapped into the tube so that only the top of the head is barely sticking out and the sharp point of the nail is in the inside.

Next, pour in your noisemakers and close off the ends with cardboard or plastic caps. Put glue on the cardboard tube and cover it with paper so the nails heads won't be sticking out—it may take two sheets. Once it's done, test it out! It should sound like heavy rain drops as you rotate the stick slowly.

5. Key Holder

Making your own key holder is the easiest project you can do with a hammer and nails. The only other thing you'll need is a base, which is whatever you'd like to hang your keys from. There's a multitude of things around your house that you could use—an old picture frame, a piece of driftwood from a vacation, or a mirror with a frame. Whatever you use, simply—but carefully—use your hammer to pound in each nail at an angle so that the keys will not slide off. Attach it to the wall, and that's it! You now have a new key holder!