How to Make a Coffee Can Racer

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Things You'll Need

  • Coffee can

  • Can opener

  • 2 plastic coffee can lids

  • Nail

  • Rubber band

  • Large paper clip

  • Tape

  • Bead

  • Pencil

Recycled coffee can racers are based on a simple wheel-and-axle design. Moreover, the items needed to make them are easily found in most homes. Once built, a coffee can racer acts like a wind-up car. Children and adults alike can spend an exciting afternoon together constructing and racing these neat contraptions.


Step 1

Remove the bottom portion of the coffee can with a can opener.

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Step 2

Punch a hole into the middle of each of the plastic lids with the nail.

Step 3

Hook a large paper clip onto the rubber band.

Step 4

Push the rubber band through the hole on one of the coffee can lids. Keep the paper clip attached to the rubber band on the outside of the lid.

Step 5

Tape the paper clip flat onto the lid to keep it from pulling through the hole.


Step 6

Place the lid on one end of the coffee can.

Step 7

Pull the rubber band through the coffee can and through the hole of the other lid. Set this second lid in place on the coffee can.

Step 8

Push the rubber band through the hole in a bead. Slide the bead down the rubber band so it sits against the lid.


Step 9

Pass a pencil through the loop in the rubber band on the opposite side of the bead.

Step 10

Adjust the pencil so it sits centered against the bead. The pencil should be shorter in diameter than the coffee can lid.


Step 11

Twist the pencil around the lid to wind the rubber band inside.

Step 12

Set the coffee can on a flat surface, and release the pencil to send it rolling.


Paint your coffee can racer in your favorite color. Acrylic paints usually work best on metal. Add a racing number or a unique logo that represents you. Create distinctive designs, draw pictures or add stickers.

Create heats with your friends based on both distance and speed. Try racing on different surfaces, indoor and outdoor, or uphill. Create a coffee can trophy for the best overall racer.


Use caution when punching the holes and removing the base of the coffee can and have an adult do this portion if the racer is for a child.


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