DIY Repurposed Vintage Match Box Grit and Egg Shell Dispensers

I love using repurposed items and turning something rusty and dented into something wonderful. This easy DIY project uses vintage metal match boxes that can be found at antique shops, yard sales or on amazon HERE for just a few dollars. I found two match boxes that were nearly identical, and would work perfectly to turn into a pair of matching grit and egg shell dispensers for my chickens.

-I found these three match boxes on ebay for less than $9 each, including shipping-
Metal matchboxes were introduced in the mid-19th century, when 'friction' matches were first invented. At that time, stoves needed to be manually lit, so housewives would store matches in a metal box usually hung on the wall near the stove. Many times, there would be advertising on the front panel of the box or a space for a business to apply their own  paper ad. 

[Fun fact: Match Box cars were named because the original boxes they came in looked very much like the vintage match boxes, or so the Hasbro execs thought.]

This project is so easy and only takes a few minutes of actual hands-on time, a few hours start to finish, which is mostly because of the drying time for the paint.  Here's how to make your own dispensers.

What you need:

Two metal match boxes (check antique shops, amazon or ebay)
Small piece of scrap metal 
Spray paint
Cardboard or paper bags
Chalkboard paint (here's what I used)
Small paintbrush
Permanent chalk pen (here's the one I used)
Clear polyurethane spray (here's what I used)

What you do:

Cut four pieces of the scrap metal to wedge against the sides of each box to cover the holes and keep your grit/eggshell from falling out. 

Stuff the boxes with cardboard or small pieces of paper bag so the paint doesn't get inside your box. Spray with at least two coats of spray paint. I chose a glossy red for my boxes. When completely dry, remove the paper and using the chalkboard paint, paint the front panel of each box with two coats of chalkboard paint, waiting at least an hour between coats.

When the paint is dry, write "Grit" on one box and "Shells" on the other. Attach a short piece of wire to the hole in the top of each box and hang them in your run or coop so your girls can eat as much or as little as they need.

-cut metal pieces to cover up side holes-
-stuff inside with paper bag to prevent paint from getting on the inside surfaces-
-coat with several thin coats of spray paint-
-paint front with chalkboard paint-
-write 'Shells' on one box and 'Grit' on the other with permanent chalk marker-
-Tessie seems to be checking to be sure I spelled everything right!-
-Ophelia digs right in to the eggshells-
Your chickens shouldn't bother with the paint, but if it starts to fleck or peel or they are pecking at it, remove the dispensers or sand the surface and apply a new coat of paint.

For more on how I collect and dry eggshells for my girls' calcium needs, read HERE.

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  1. Kristi@StoneFamilyFarmsteadJune 10, 2015 at 7:55 AM

    Oh, cool idea using red because of its attractiveness to chickens. I started some chicken aprons for my girls and read a comment not to use red because it would attract other chickens to peck at the wearer. This is a perfect use of red in the coop!

    Kristi@<a href=">Stone Family Farmstead</a>

  2. Carole West @ Garden Up GreenJuly 1, 2015 at 5:38 AM

    I like this project- we have a red theme on our farm and these little boxes would match perfectly. Currently seeking a new container idea to feed my little emus, they're 5 months old. Something like this could work if I hung it where the rain doesn't mess with it. Great project!