This week, I’m continuing with the transformation of our guest bedroom into a craft room. My wife has a lot of knitting and quilting magazines and books that need a home, so we decided a bookcase was in order. Since the design of this room and most of its colors are rather quirky, I knew I didn’t want to make a standard bookcase, so decided to make wood crates and use them as a bookcase.
I also thought this would be a good opportunity to bring some dark stained wood into the room as a visual break from all the bright colors.
These crates are quite simple to make and are very sturdy. I used 3.5″ (9 cm) wide pine boards for the slats and 3/4″ (19mm) plywood for the sides.
Cutting the boards
All the boards are the same size, so I set up a stop block on my miter saw. The fence on my saw isn’t very long, so I extended it by clamping a board to it, and clamping a stop block to it.
The actual measurements of these slat boards really isn’t critical, just so long as they are all identical.
The only other wood to cut to size is the plywood for the crate sides. If you don’t have a tablesaw. you can cut these using a circular saw.
If you don’t have any Forstner bits, just draw out the shape of the handhold, drill a small entry hole, and cut it out with a jigsaw.
Soften the sharp edges of the hole. I used a 1/4″ (6 mm) roundover bit on my router. Alternatively, you can just sand them smooth with hand sandpaper and a lot of patience!
Assembling the crates
The most difficult part of putting these together is the first board. I clamped it to the bottom edge of the plywood side pieces. In this picture, you can see how the crate is on its side and the pine board is flush with the edge of the plywood side.
Its almost always a good idea to drill holes before inserting screws, but it’s especially important to drill pilot holes when the screws are as close to the end of a board as these are. This will prevent the board from splitting. Plus, it will ensure that the long screws go straight into the plywood edges.
I used 2″ (5 cm) screws, driving them into the edges of the plywood. Using long screws provides a very strong joint.
Once the first board is attached to the bottom, you don’t really need to use the clamp anymore, unless a board isn’t lining up correctly and needs some persuasion. On all three sides, attach the two end boards first, then center the middle board by eye. Screw them all in as before.
Ta-da! that’s all you need to do to make a wood crate. This version is very strong and will take a lot of abuse. There are so many uses for the lowly wooden crate!
Making the crates look authentic
I stained the crates with a dark Provincial stain using a disposable foam brush. I work quickly and splash it on without a lot of finesse. The most important part about applying stain is to wipe it off with a rag once it’s been applied. If you don’t wipe off the excess, it won’t dry but will just become sticky. Stain works by soaking into the wood, not sitting on top like paint.
Vintage fruit crate labels
I did a quick Google image search for “Vintage fruit label” and printed out four I liked. They look best when printed on regular paper, not photo paper.
I also Photoshopped in “aged paper” backgrounds to them, using a blending mode. If you are not a Photoshop user, just printing out the labels themselves will look great
I sprayed on a pretty thick coat of spray adhesive to the backs of these prints.
And pasted them to the sides of the crates. This part is so fun and rewarding! Instantly, the crates take on a cool new look.
To protect the paper as well as the wood, I sprayed on several coats of spray lacquer.
Finally, I mounted all four crates to the wall of the craft room, staggering them. I attached them to the wall using lag screws driven directly into a stud, and toggle bolts for the sides without a wall stud.