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what to do with old license plates

what to do with old license plates

Clever, decorative and practical ideas for old license plates

You have an old license plate or two — maybe a whole box of them — gathering dust because you don’t know what to do with them. Well, you’ve come to the right place! The easiest thing to do is sell or recycle them, but why not turn them into art? Read on for some great ideas—just remember to check with your local motor vehicle licensing office and make sure you’re not required by law to commission them before jumping into a project.

[Edit]things you should know

  • Turn an old license plate into a piece of vintage decor using a few basic tools and hardware.
  • Sell ​​fairly old, vintage, or specialty plates to collectors – if it’s in good condition, it can sell for a good amount.
  • Take the most recent old plates to a scrap metal location for recycling. Depending on where you live, your local licensing office may be able to do this for you.


[Edit]wall art

  1. Use an old license plate to make an interesting decorative piece. It would be easy enough to hang up the old license plate, which might be enough for you if it’s something that brings up good memories for you. But don’t be afraid to get creative—especially if you have a lot of old license plates.[1]
    What to Do With Old License Plates Step 1.jpg
    • For example, you can cut out several license plates and glue them together so that the letters spell out a particular word or message.
    • You can also make a collage of pieces from multiple license plates that represent the trips you’ve taken or the places you’ve lived.


  1. Bend the end of a license plate to make an interesting bookend. Since this project requires no cutting, it is something you can do with the kids. All you have to do is measure from the end, then fold the license plate over the straight edge of the table or countertop. Sticking the bowed end under the books and the rest of the license plates will hold them upright in place on the shelf.[2]
    What to Do With Old License Plates Step 2.jpg
    • Use a ruler and a marker to draw a straight line where you want the bend so you can make sure it’s even.

[Edit]dust pan

  1. Attach an old license plate to a handle for a unique dust pan. If you have some scrap wood, plastic, or metal that you can use as a handle, all you have to do is bend the edges of a license plate to create a unique dustpan that all your friends will be asking about. Just find some screws or other hardware that you can use to attach the bent license plate to the handle.[3]
    What to Do With Old License Plates Step 3.jpg
    • Use a block of wood to easily bend the license plate. Decide where you want it to bend, set the wooden block in place, and tilt the plate up with the block.


  1. Make old license plates useful for keeping notes and lists. Clean the old license plate thoroughly, then attach a decorative binder clip to the license plate with glue.[4] If you want something sturdier you can also use actual clipboard hardware that you bolt onto the license plate.
    What to Do With Old License Plates Step 4.jpg
    • If you want to be really fancy, you can even add pen holders to it.


  1. Turn your old license plate into a musical addition to your yard or patio. Drill some holes in the bottom of the license plate to make a wind chime. Hang objects with holes, such as old spoons or pieces of scrap metal or glass. Take care to find objects that make pleasing sounds when they hit each other. When you’re done, use the top hole you drilled earlier to attach a chain or some twine to hang your wind chime.[5]
    What to Do With Old License Plates Step 5.jpg
    • Pay attention to the spacing of your holes. The further away they are, the stronger the wind needs to blow for your wind chime to make noise.

[Edit]fridge magnets

  1. Cut up your old license plate and repurpose it as interesting magnets. It’s especially fun if you have a license plate that’s really colorful. Different letters and numbers make great magnets – all you have to do is stick a magnet square on the back and you’re good to go.[6]
    What to Do With Old License Plates Step 6.jpg
    • Remember to sand the edges after cutting- otherwise, they’ll be dangerously sharp.

[Edit]key holder

  1. Drill some hooks into the license plate and you’ll never lose your keys again. All you need are some metal hooks for this, although you can also use plastic hooks with strong adhesive. Thoroughly clean the license plate and hook yours down. Hang it by the door and your keys will always be ready to go when you are.[7]
    What to Do With Old License Plates Step 7.jpg
    • You can also mount the license plate to a piece of wood and use that for your hook if you don’t want to drill into the license plate.

[Edit]pencil cup

  1. Organize your desk with whimsical license plate pencil cups. If you have a spare piece of wood, cut it into a circle, then fold your old license plate around it and saw-A pencil cup with a little personality and vintage flair. Find some way to attach the license plate to the piece of wood. Strong glue may work, but you can also use nails or bolts.[8]
    What to Do With Old License Plates Step 8.jpg
    • If you have the equipment and want your cup to look more polished, weld the two ends of the license plate together to seal the cup.


  1. Give your plants an interesting new home that can also be a conversation piece. Cut a circle out of wood and fold your license plate around the wood to make a planter. Bolt the license plate to the wood so it stays securely in place. Drill a hole in the center of the wood to drain water and, if you want to set the planter on a solid surface, add an old lid to the bottom for the water pot.[9]
    What to do with old license plates Step 9.jpg
    • If the planter is going to hang outside, attach chains to the pre-drilled holes in the top of the license tags.
    • If you have multiple license plates, you can even make multiple planters and link them together to make a large hanging basket.

[Edit]license plate box

  1. Build a box to turn your old license plate into something useful. This project is a bit more complicated, but if you’re already familiar with basic woodworking and know how to make a box, it’s pretty easy. Instead of using wood for the long sides of the box, just use the license plate.[10]
    What to Do With Old License Plates Step 10.jpg
    • You can simply bolt the license plate to the side of a wooden box that you have already made to give it a vintage vibe.

[Edit]sell to collectors

  1. Join a plate collecting club or sell your plates online. In North America, see Automobile License Plate Collectors Association. In Europe, see Europlate. These organizations have lots of resources to ensure that you get top dollar for your old license plates.[11]
    What to Do With Old License Plates Step 11.jpg
    • Use the grading guide to determine the condition of your plate. It can help you peruse online listings and figure out what your plate might be worth.
    • Online auction and classifieds sites, such as eBay and Craigslist, often have collectors’ listings.


  1. Take your plate to a scrap metal location near you for recycling. Typically, you can’t drop a license plate in your curbside recycling bin—you have to take it to a scrap metal yard. Before doing this, scratch, bend or break the plate so that it cannot be used again.[12]
    What to Do With Old License Plates Step 12.jpg
    • There are some curbside recycling programs that take old license plates, so it’s worth calling to be sure. If you can toss the plate into your recycling bin, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort.[13]
    • Some motor vehicle departments are willing to take care of the recycling for you—all you have to worry about is postage. Call or visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles website to see if this is a service they offer.[14]


  • Always call your local licensing office before doing anything with an old license plate to make sure it shouldn’t be turned over.[15]
  • The law requires certain types of plates, including US government plates, to be given back to the government. You can’t keep them or do anything with them.[16]


  1. https://www.hallmarkchannel.com/home-and-family/how-to/diy-license-plate-word-art
  2. https://www.al.com/bargain-mom/2012/06/bargain_mom_frugal_craft_how_t.html
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waQAjr4fqlM
  4. https://youtu.be/1y-FQZ2x2qI?t=750
  5. https://colormethrifty.com/how-to-make-a-license-plate-wind-chime/
  6. https://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/handmade/how-to-make-magnets-from-old-license-plates
  7. https://cutediyprojects.com/diy/35-great-diy-gifts-for-men-who-love-to-be-surprise/attachment/license-plate-key-hanger/
  8. https://www.scrappygeek.com/diy-license-plate-pencil-cup/
  9. https://www.recyclart.org/turn-old-plates-license-plate-planters/
  10. https://thecavenderdiary.com/2014/03/16/a-texas-license-plate-becomes-a-box/
  11. https://www.autoweek.com/car-life/a1703421/7-things-know-about-collecting-license-plates/
  12. https://dmv.ny.gov/plates/how-disposerecycle-old-vehicle-plates
  13. https://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/platedisposal.html
  14. https://www.mvd.newmexico.gov/vehicles/license-plates/
  15. https://www.garlandtx.gov/3674/Waste-Wizard#!rc-cpage=364326
  16. https://www.alpca.org/faq/


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