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DIY $1 Manhole Cover

Create a DIY $1 manhole cover for your favorite little Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan!

DIY $1 Manhole Cover for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans
I know what you’re thinking… why would you want to make a manhole cover??

Well, if you’ve seen my last couple of blog posts you know we recently had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party for my oldest’s 5th birthday.

And with TMNT’s comes the need for some manhole covers!

They make for great party decor, and we even used one as a serving tray on the party table.

Today I’m going to show you how to make one of these manhole covers for a mere $1!

4 steps for diy manhole cover
You can create the manhole cover in 4 simple steps.

I will show you how!

I whipped out 2 of them in a couple of hours!

diy manhole cover supplies
Let’s look at the supplies needed to make the manhole cover:
1 pizza pan (Dollar Tree!)
scrap cardboard cut into 1.5″ x .5″ strips
3-D alpha letters
large-size aluminum foil
two shades of gray paint
roller (Amazon affiliate link)

I had all of these supplies on hand except for the pizza pan!

diy manhole cover step 1
Find the center of the pizza pan and place the 3-D letters there to spell out “sewer.”

My letters are self-adhesive and stick in place. Glue yours as needed

Arrange the cardboard strips into a manhole cover-like pattern around the letters.

For the strips shown above outlined in red you will want to trim the strips down to 1″ x .5″.

Once you have all of the cardboard arranged where you want it, go back and glue the strips to the pizza pan.

diy manhole cover step 2
Place a piece of the foil over the pizza pan and loosely fold over the edges.

Keep the foil loose so that it is not stretched to breaking when you begin the embossing process.

diy manhole cover step 3
To emboss the foil, use the Q-tip to gently outline the letters.

Use the roller then the Q-tip to bring out the shape of the cardboard strips.

If the foil breaks at any time don’t freak out!

Simply place a small piece of the foil under the broken space and keep on working.

You will never see it in the end!

On the back of the pizza pan, trim any excess foil for a nice finish.

diy manhole cover step 4
The embossing alone isn’t enough to truly bring out the look of the manhole cover.

That is where the paint comes in!

Gently brush a coat of the lighter gray paint all over the foil.

The upper left corned of the manhole cover has paint. The rest of the foil is unpainted.

We’re already beginning to see the look of the manhole cover coming through, not to mention a more grungy look a manhole cover would have (have you ever seen a super shiny and clean manhole cover?).

diy manhole cover step 5
After allowing the paint to dry, use the darker gray paint to fill in the deeper areas of the manhole cover.

The paint will not be smooth, but the rough look adds to the grunge effect.

DIY $1 Manhole Cover
And there you go!

We have a custom manhole cover for your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle birthday party or, you know, for whatever!

Not bad for $1.


Would your TMNT fan love this DIY $1 manhole cover?


>> See where I party! <<

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Friday 20th of October 2023

This is such an awesome idea! I'm giving it a try for my son's 3rd birthday and this week be such a cool addition. Thank you!!

Tina V

Tuesday 21st of February 2017

Doing a TMNT themed kid's bathroom and I'm making this to hang on the wall by drilling 2 tiny holes and attaching string or a picture hanger before the tin foil step, brushing on a thin layer of mod podge over the pan and cardboard, doing the rolling and embossing, then craft glue on the back edges to hold it down, and finally the 2 painting techniques. Thanks so much for the idea and directions...I've been searching for a real man hole cover to purchase for 3 years and this is so much cheaper!


Tuesday 28th of June 2016

I just happened to see this today and made one for my brother (birthday today) who photographs man-hole covers . . . your direx were great. I did change the painting process by covering the whole surface with the darker gray first - drying it - then dry-brushing the lighter gray over the relief letters and design. I then dry-brushed a lighter almost white over that. It took me about 5 hours to make the whole thing. Luckily I had the supplies needed . . . didn't have a pizza pan but used a straight edged tray. I have photos that I will post on my flickr page. Thanks again !


Wednesday 22nd of July 2015

This is awesome!!! I'm planning a TMNT birthday party for my son's 3rd bday. Can I pay you to make this for me? I know mine will not come out like yours.

Michele McDonald

Wednesday 22nd of July 2015

Thanks, Melissa! I wish I could make one for you, but the pizza pan is so large I don't even want to think of what the shipping would be. You can do this!! :)


Wednesday 15th of July 2015

I don't have an embossing tool. How do I keep it laying flat and staying put.

Michele McDonald

Sunday 19th of July 2015

Hi Sara! Once you begin the embossing the foil should start to stay in place. You can do this with just a Q-tip. If you do not have a roller, you can use any smooth cylindrical surface that you may have in the house.

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