How to build a reclaimed wood crate

Learn how to build a simple and stylish rustic wood crate out of reclaimed wood, to store tools, grow plants, or for anything desired! Easy instructions.

Learn how to build a simple and stylish rustic wood crate out of reclaimed wood, to store tools, grow plants, or for anything desired! Easy instructions.

Hello there old crate woodworking friends!

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

I LOVE collecting vintage crates or wooden boxes for decoration. Who doesn’t? Old crates are also fun to use as shelves, shadow boxes, flower boxes and to store anything desired.

But sometimes you just can’t find the right size, or at a price that’s affordable. Or perhaps you wish to modify a crate to suit, however you don’t want to tinker with the value of old wooden crates.

So that’s where making your own durable wood crate comes into play. And this little wooden crate box turned out really cool! Using whatever scrap wood you have.

Here’s the tutorial on how to build a DIY wood crate with a rustic look that has you believing it’s the real antique deal!

This post contains some affiliate products in which I earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. I only endorse products I love to use. All opinions are my own.

How to build a reclaimed wood crate


Supplies needed:


Reclaimed wood

Cordless drill, drill bits and screws

Orbital Sander with sandpaper

Miter saw

Measuring tape

Wood glue is optional. I didn’t use any.

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

Building the frame


1. Cut 4 boards (2 sides, front and back) to the desired width and length and height of your crate.

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

Now… if you study vintage crates, most have thicker ends and thinner fronts and backs. So if you have the choice, you can follow those guidelines.

However being that I used pallet wood, I used 4 boards of the same thickness.

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

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

Reclaimed wood tends to be brittle. So to avoid the wood splitting when using screws, pre-drilling holes is encouraged.

If you use a Kreg Jig or air nailer, you can skip this step.

Read why I prefer to use screws for building HERE.

Start the screws / How to build a pallet wood crate /

Assembling the crate

3. Load screws into the holes.

Starting the outer frame is always the trickiest part because there’s nothing yet stabilizing it.

So loading in your screws, then driving them in just a little before the build really helps.

I use screws just long enough to do the job.

Any longer and you attach your project to your table. Ask me how I know.

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

Hold or clamp the corners together, and pump the screws in slowly with a cordless drill.

Drill in the screws just enough to secure the wood.

Crate framework / How to build a pallet wood crate /

Installing the bottom of the crate

5. Select wood for the bottom.

Anything will do. I nearly did these tongue and groove planks I had painted. But then decided I needed more woodsy wood. So I chose simple cedar strips instead.

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, right?

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

  1. Place frame good side down.
  2. Position bottom planks across the top of the crate.
  3. From underneath, pencil the wood along the outside of the crate frame. Or simply measure each plank to the proper length of the crate.

7. Sand before attaching.

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

If using screws, pre-drill 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.

Note that each cedar slat was staggered to take advantage of their different shades.

Screw cedar strips into bottom of crate / How to build a pallet wood crate /
Just make sure you drive the screws 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 this mix of wood gorgeous?

Now that’s a sturdy looking crate! Or to use as sturdy wooden boxes!

Farmers Market stencil on a crate / How to build a pallet wood crate /

Finishing the crate


At this point, you could add details to the crate such as:

Pallet Stamps stencil by Funky Junk's Old Sign Stencils

Where to find crate stencils

Funky Junk's Old Sign Stencils store

HERE are plenty of crate-styled stencils to choose from!

Highly suggested: Pallet Stamps / Shipping Crate Stamps / Organic Coffee


I ended up stenciling this crate with a small Farmers’ Market sign.

HERE is how I stencilled it.

Learn how to build a simple and stylish rustic wood crate out of reclaimed wood, to store tools, grow plants, or for anything desired! Easy instructions.

The finished crate


This little crate happened to be the perfect size for legal sized paper, so I choose to use it for paper storage beside the computer. It’s perfect, and makes the cutest file box ever!

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

However crates can be used for absolutely anything! And this isn’t’ the only one I’ve built. Here’s a few more to make or how to use them!

Think you’ll give a hand made crate a go?

More crate projects to make:


DIY wood crate snack box for serving nuts Chestnuts stencil

Chestnuts themed DIY crate snack box

Build an Orchard themed fruit crate from scrap wood

Make an orchard themed crate HERE / Used as a window box HERE

Rustic Fresh Coffee appliance garage

Build a coffee themed appliance garage HERE / See the Hot Cocoa version HERE

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
Christmas crate shadow box

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

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

View many other crate projects HERE

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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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