How to build a reclaimed wood crate

Slats of wood on bottom / How to build a reclaimed wood crate /
Hello there crate woodworking friends!

If this doesn’t describe you today, I sure hope it will tomorrow! Because making your own old crates is fun, easy and oh so very cheap! 🙂

I LOVE landing a great old vintage crate! Who doesn’t? But sometimes you just can’t find one you want in a size you need (or can afford).

So that’s where making your own comes into play.

Bear with me, as I had a few things go wrong on this given day. And I aim to tell you about it. Because on my survey you said you wanted to hear some ‘oh ohs’ too.

A little friendly drama makes the world go ’round, yes?

If you wish to miss the rambling, just read the bold text for a quicker read.

Predrill holes for crate frame / How to build a pallet wood crate /

How to build a reclaimed wood crate

1. Cut 4 boards to desired size.

This is your frame, which creates the 4 sides of your crate.

Now… if you study crates, most have thicker ends and thinner fronts and backs.

Being that I used pallet wood, I used 4 boards of the same size all the way around. Because free works for me.

Tip: It’s ALL about the wood patina. New wood will not result in an old looking crate unless you really work it over. Old is best.

2. Pre drill holes in all four corners on two of the opposite ends.

Because I use screws, I predrill holes.

I was going to use my nail gun but I couldn’t get the nails to load right, and then I blew a breaker that I couldn’t fix. The hose is still strung like spaghetti all over the workshop floor because I couldn’t deal with how unfriendly it treated me.


Screws and cordless drill it is! Which I prefer anyway.

Read why I prefer to use screws for building HERE.

Start the screws / How to build a pallet wood crate /
3. Load your screws into the holes.

Starting the outer frame is always the hardest because there’s nothing yet stabilizing it. So loading in your screws, then driving them in just a little before the build will make you believing you know what you’re doing, vs. scrambling off the ground for your wood.

I use screws just long enough to do the job. Any longer and you attach your project to your table.

Crate framework / How to build a pallet wood crate /
4. Screw the frame together.

You’re already nearly done!

Crate framework / How to build a pallet wood crate /
5. Select wood for the bottom.

Anything will do. I nearly did these strips I had painted. But then decided I needed more woodsy wood.

Take apart part of your funky kitchen cupboards in order to get it if you must… because you have lots of spare time to redo the kitchen anyway…

Marking where to cut wood / How to build a pallet wood crate /
6. Measure, then cut the bottom wood to size.

I ran the pencil along the underside of the wood to mark my cutting line. Brilliant, right?

7. Sand before attaching.

Screw cedar strips into bottom of crate / How to build a pallet wood crate /
8. Attach bottom wood from the bottom.

If using screws, predrill holes first.

If your nail gun works, you are most fortunate. 

For true authenticity? Use rusty nails with big heads! Too bad I couldn’t find mine.

Screw cedar strips into bottom of crate / How to build a pallet wood crate /
Just make sure you drive them in all the way. I can see a few here that could use a little more attention.

Cedar strips on bottom of crate / How to build a pallet wood crate /
Isn’t that gorgeous?! It’s a shame to cover that up!

I staggered the plank shades for added variation.

Farmers Market stencil on a crate / How to build a pallet wood crate /
And then I showed you HERE how I stencilled it.

Funky Junk Interiors Old Sign Stencils Store.02 PM
Crate paper tray and gear pencil holder / How to build a pallet wood crate /

Vintage ironing board light for office / How to build a pallet wood crate /

I’m not quite done with this little guy… it’s getting a couple more layers. 

But I wanted this post out there to refer to because this easy tutorial can get you sooooo many other cool things. You wait and see… from trays to toolboxes to most any build.

Here’s why I adore crates so very much…

Crate kitchen phone station on a wall / How to build a reclaimed wood crate /
Kitchen phone station on a wall

Crate and license plate toilet paper storage via Funky Junk Interiors
Crate toilet paper holder

Shadow box snow scene crate / Funky Junk Interiors
Crate Christmas shadow box

vintage cart coffee station potato bin / Funky Junk Interiors
Crate coffee pod organizer

Vintage cart beverage station / Funky Junk Interiors
Hot cocoa station in a crate / Funky Junk Interiors
Hot cocoa station on a wall

hot chocolate station kitchen / Funky Junk Interiors
Compact hot cocoa station on a counter

Soooo… have I inspired you to go make a crate? 

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Categories: DIY, Junk Drawer, Old Sign Stencils, Reclaimed wood projects
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17 thoughts on “How to build a reclaimed wood crate

  1. What a great tutorial Donna! Crates are really fun and unique to decorate with. And you definitely got that mastered.

    Thanks for sharing with us!


  2. you have no idea how many times i screwed something to the table ha ha and most of the time it was just a smidge off, this is a great tut thanks xx

  3. Oh, this is such a great tutorial…I can picture clearly each step in my mind…I may just be able to do this IF I can get someone to cut the wood to size for me. hehe! I just love how yours turned out…and you’re right, using the pallet wood gives it an aged patina so it looks like a genuine vintage crate! I can’t wait to see where you take this project next!

  4. I do believe I will be making a crate this weekend so I can store the leftover rolls of wallpaper that I sometimes use for my projects. Once they’re open, they seem to unroll all over the place. Once again, thanks for the inspiration Donna!

  5. I was just wondering why you didn’t use wood glue. I always want the extra security of glue along with nails or screws. Do you feel it isn’t necessary because of the security of using screws or maybe you like the fact that you can disassemble your project–just in case you want to turn it into something else, lol.

    A woodworker once told me that nails/screw are only for holding the piece together while the glue dries. Glue is supposed to be what holds your piece together. Any thoughts?

    • Hi there!

      I’ve actually been taught the opposite… if you use screws, you can always take something apart or fix it again.

      That said, I’m not a master woodworker by any means. My builds are simple, decorative things, very rustic and perfect for beginner builders. I’ve personally never found the need for glue, and LOVE the fact that I can dismantle anything I build and reuse the wood again. Which I very often do. 🙂

      • I made a box similar to your crate to use in my sewing shop. It is for people to step on so I can pin their pants to the proper length without me having to bend clear down to the floor to do it.

        I used rough cut wood left over from another project to make the box. I am so glad that I didn’t use glue that time, because the boards shrunk over time(they must have still been ‘wet’).

        Now I can take the screws out and move the boards closer together. I need it to function well so that when a woman steps on the box wearing high heeled shoes, that her heel does not get stuck between the boards in the gap.

        Just like everything else in life, one method does not fit in all situations and one size does not fit all, lol.

  6. Just my 2 cents. I like to counter sink the screws, and also the crates make great carry all trays, just ad 2 holes and rope to each side.

  7. Hi Donna!

    Loved to see your creativity and seems to me that you are very much professional on this activities. Though you said that you are not a master but I think you are already got this master designation. So really good one and learned something about interior design with antique materials:)

    Best wished

  8. Just found your site while looking for easy wooden crate tutorials to build as a gift. I am so inspired, excited and blessed to have found you and your story! As an aspiring Artist/wood and furniture repurposing business owner, I have struggled for the past year to find the niche to actually do what I love and be prosperous. I am still taking it a day at a time but now allowing God to lead. Your life story gives me hope and thank you so for sharing!

    • What a kind message to leave, Sheila! Thank you! So glad my story could help guide your own way. It really is a day to day process, isn’t it? Keep praying, and doing what you love and it’ll all make sense one day. 🙂

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