How to Build a Wood Crate

Friday, July 26, 2013 -

I love the vintage look of wooden crates. Even if they are brand new, they bring a bit of nostalgia to a room. If you take a look around the internet, you can find some awesome inspiration on how to incorporate wood crates into your decor.

Finished DIY wooden storage crate with pillows and blankets inside

crate coffee table
baileys wine crate shelfing1.jpg
These crates are really easy to build! I've built multiple crates, in various sizes, using these same steps. I even taught a bunch of teenage girls from church how to build one themselves.

(If you don't have a pneumatic nailer, you can either drive finish nails by hand of even use wood screws)

When I posted the Cottage Style Coffee Table last week, I promised a tutorial on the crates and the finish I used. The tutorial for the finish is on it's way. Here's the rundown for the crate.

I used pine 2x2's and reclaimed pallet wood for mine, but you could use any type of wood. Pallet wood is very rough and lends itself to the "rustic" look. It also works well with a "driftwood" or "weathered" finish well. If you would like the same look, but don't have pallets you can pull apart and use, a good substitution would be pine fence pickets or even 2x3 furring strips. Both are readily available and inexpensive at a home improvement store. For purposes of the tutorial, I will  give instructions based on using lumber approximately 3/4 inches thick.

Start by determining your finished height. Next, cut 4 pieces of 2x2 lumber the length of your finished height, minus 1/4 inch. I used a compound miter saw for this step, but you could use almost any saw. Just make sure to cut the end as square as possible.

Now, you get to decide which sides are going to run long, and which will run short. I ran my narrow ends short. Either way will look good, but you will want to start with the sides you run short.

The finished height and the width of your lumber will determine how many slats you need to cut. My crates were around 13 inches tall and each slat was around 4 inches wide. I like generous spacing between my slats, so I decided to construct my crate with 3 slats per side. Lets continue pretending you are going to use my same dimensions.

Determine your finished width, and cut 6 slats your finished width, minus 1 1/2 inches.

On a flat surface, lay 2 of the pre-cut 2x2's parallel to each other. Take one of the short slats and square up the corners with a 2x2 on each end. I would recommend using a speed square if you are very experienced with woodworking.

Apply wood glue.

 Press the slat firmly in place and tack in place with a brad nailer or staples 1 1/4 to 2 inches long. Only drive one nail per corner.

Repeat the same process on the other end of the 2x2's. With only 1 nail per corner, you should be able to shift the wood as needed and use a speed square to make sure the whole piece is square. Once you have all the corners square, drive at least 2 more nails into each end on the slats.

Center the middle slat, and secure with wood glue and brads/staples. You now have one end of the crate done. Build a second one following the same steps.

Once you have both short ends built, its time to attach them together with the long sides.Follow the same process to construct the short sides, but make sure to run the slats all the way past the 2x2, covering the end of the short slat.

Once you have the slats attached on all 4 sides, its time to add a bottom. I used a scrap piece of 1/4 plywood for my bottom. I simple laid the crate on the plywood, traced the shape, and cut it out on a table saw. A circular saw would also work well.

Flip the crate upside down, apply wood glue to the bottom of the slats and 2x2's, then line up your pre-cut plywood. Pre-drill several small holes around the perimeter and attach the plywood to the crate with 1 inch wood screws, making sure to slightly counter-sink the heads.

Why screws you ask? Why not just nail the bottom on as well? Because nails have very little hold when force is being pulled straight down. The only thing keeping the nails in place is the kinetic friction (or pressure) of the wood on it's self. Nails would easily pull out when a load was place in the crate. Screws actually grip into the layers of wood, creating a very good hold, even when being pulled straight down.

The last step is to drill 2 large holes on either short side, and your crate is ready for finish and handles of your choice!

Keep posted for the finish tutorial

Linking at:

Designed Decor

Elizabeth and Co. On Display Monday Keeping It Simple Three Mango Seeds


  1. SWEEEEET!!!!!! I really want to build one of these (NOT have hubby do it for me!). Looking forward to the finish tutorial. :)


  2. I LOVE wood crates, too! So happy you posted this and it looks so simple (gotta get the hubby to do the cutting for me though) and I love the finish! I'll be sure to check back on how to do that! Thanks!

  3. Great Tutorial! I can't wait to see how you did the finish!

  4. Awesomeness! Thanks for the tutorial and for linking to my party.


  5. Great tutorial, Elisha! I so wish I could use power tools... sigh.
    Thank you for linking up at Brag About It this week!
    ~ Megin of VMG206

  6. What a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

  7. I love this! i might have to make one for myself because I'm looking for something specific! I want a long narrow crate for the center of my kitchen table to house my little herb pots!

  8. Awesome tutorial!! Thanks for sharing. Linda

    Come share at What to do Weekends.

  9. I love crates! How nice to be able to build your own!

  10. Beautiful. There really are so many uses for a good crate! I'd love for you to link up to The DIY'ers!

  11. this is amazing! i came across your blog randomly and fell in love! you have such great ideas!!

  12. Thank's a lot for sharing this type of important information. It's a very useful information.Fire Engine Kids Bed

  13. Screws are good for attaching the bottom plywood to the case but screws should not be used for attaching the slats. Why? because solid wood moves with humidity and nails allow some give. Screws are rigid and the slats would split instead. This is a good design, though the dimensions look a bit awkward. Perhaps it's a bit too tall. 3 slats would seem more appropriate.

  14. Very nice. If I had some extra wood lying around I would try to make some outdoor wood furniture.

  15. Your table made out of crates is so cute! You could stain it any color to match the room. Plus, you could have some extra storage. I love the basket of books, and the plant in the middle is really cute! My living room is so boring. and something like this would really spruce it up.

  16. I remember this was the first DIY project I did! It was super simple and cheap but ended up looking so stylish as a mini storage box inside our living area!

  17. I love this blog and all the awesome tips you give us. I love this type of woodwork, gonna ask hubby for his tools and try something new ^^

  18. Loved your awesome blog with some awesome pic. Can I use your 3rd pic in my site with credit?


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