How to Build a Simple Home Decor Crate
I made a built-in shelf for our front room last year and the shelves have remained relatively empty since. My wife and I struggled with how to make the space both functional and visually appealing. My wife was inspired by one of her friends to use a few crates to hold things like binders that would otherwise look cluttered on the shelves. My wife tasked me with building the crates after searching a number of stores without finding anything that would work. She decided on two crates and wanted them to fill most of the 30” wide shelves. After reviewing several material types (barn wood, oak stained to match the built-in top, or pine) we decided to go with rough pine so they would have an authentic look. Her friend encouraged us to make them gray to coordinate with a metal “V” that is in the middle of our photo wall above the built-in. So with that I was off to the workshop.
I debated for a while on whether I wanted slats on all side with corner supports or if I wanted solid side with handles. I decided that the solid sides would be easier to make and would be more durable. I reviewed the materials I had on hand and decided to use an edge glued pine board that I salvaged from the side of the road and a couple of relatively straight 2x4s.
Cutting the Pieces
I ripped two 8 foot 2x4s down into 3/8” strips using a band saw, three per board. I intentionally used on older blade with a low teeth count so the saw marks would be visible. Then using a table saw I ripped the strips down to 3” wide. Lastly I cut them to length using a miter saw, twelve at 30” for the side slats and six at 23.25” for the bottom slats. Note: if you don’t recess the bottom slats then they should all be the same length. I used a foam sanding block to lightly sand the edges of each slat.
To make the sides, I cut the edge glued pine board down into four 10” x 11.25” boards. I wanted the bottom slats to be recessed, so using a straight bit and a router table, I made a 3/8” x 3/8” cutout on the inside bottom edge of each board. Note: you could also do this on the table saw with a dado blade or by taking a pass from each edge with a standard blade. Then, using a template that I had made previously, I marked the handle slots on each board with a pencil. I drilled holes slightly smaller than the final opening on the ends of the slots and then cut the remaining material slightly inside the pencil lines with a jig-saw. Once all the rough openings were cut, I clamped the template in place and cut the handle slots to size with a flush bit. To break the sharp edged of the handles I used a ¼” roundover bit.
The crate assembly was actually pretty easy. I started by setting two of the side on their side. I applied glue to the inside ends of three side slats and used a staple gun to secure them in place. Note: you could also just use a hammer and finishing nails if you don’t have a nail gun or staple gun. I made sure the top and bottom slats were flush with the top and bottom respectively and centered the middle slat by eye. I flipped it over and repeated the process on the other side. Then I flipped it upside-down and installed the bottom slats, spacing them by eye.
Once the two crates were built it was time to figure out how to make them gray. I experimented with a black water-based dye stain and black water-based paint. After getting the appropriate approvals from my wife I ended up using the paint because it had more a blue tint that matched the room better. I watered down the paint with a ratio of approximately two parts water to one part paint. To apply the finish I used an old wash cloth to rub the mixture onto the wood. I intentionally left the coloring a little uneven. Once the crates were dry I put a small adhesive backed felt pad on each corner and brought them upstairs to try them out.
I am quite happy with the end result, and more importantly my wife is happy! Overall each crate only ended up costing about $3 (cost of the 2×4 and felt feet), which isn’t too bad compared to the $15-$30 they charge at the stores we searched. They would have been another $3 or so if I would have had to buy the edge glued pine board, but that still seems pretty reasonable. You could also build these from pallet wood or other reclaimed wood.
If you’re interested in building your own crate and have any questions please let me know. The dimensions for these crates are available as a free downloadable pdf on my Shop Page. Any suggestions or other comments are also welcome.
My next post will be about a basic frame that I made to coordinate with the crates.
Tool and Material List:
- Band saw (or table saw)
- Table saw
- Miter saw (or hand saw)
- Nail gun or staple gun (or finishing nails and hammer)
- (2) 2″ x 4″ x 90″ boards
- (1) 3/4″ x 12″ x 48″ pine board (edge glued or standard)
- Wood Glue
- Silicone Glue Brush (optional)
- Foam Sanding Block
- Black dye stain or black water-based paint
- Cotton rag
- Nitrile gloves
I created an amazon store that includes most of these items.