How to Make Old-Time Wooden Crates

Written by linda donahue
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How to Make Old-Time Wooden Crates
Wooden crates can store everything from produce to CDs. (angled perspective of old wooden fruit crates image by Bo Widerberg from

Old-time wooden crates have been around for years. They are often envisioned packed with fresh produce at local grocery markets on street corners. These crates were reused to hold everything from newspapers to household items. Smaller versions have made popular designs for storing CDs and DVDs. You can make your own old-time wooden crates with just a little effort, building them the size you require.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Plywood
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Saw

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  1. 1

    Cut out ends for your crates from plywood, using a saw. Cut them square or slightly rectangular, making them the dimensions you require. For a usable crate size, make the ends approximately 12 to 14 inches wide by 10 to 12 inches tall. If you are making your crate for something smaller, such as a CD, make the ends slightly larger than the CD.

  2. 2

    Cut out the side rails from more plywood. For a basic crate, you'll want the rails about 18 inches to 2 feet long. For storing CDs, make the length according to the space you intend to fill. The rails themselves are slats of wood about 2 inches to 2 1/2 inches thick. For smaller versions, such as the CD holder, you can use 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch thicknesses. The number of rails you'll need for each side depends on how tall you made your basic crate and how far apart you want to space the rails. Assuming you made your ends 10 inches tall and the rails 2 inches thick, five rails would completely cover the side without any gaps. So four rails per side would space out nicely, meaning you'll need eight rails.

  3. 3

    Cut out a bottom rectangle to match the depth of the ends and the length of the rails. So if your crate ends were 12 inches deep (and 10 inches high) with rails 18 inches long, you would need a bottom piece 12 by 18 inches.

  4. 4

    Hammer nails into the end sides and bottom to put them together. Although nails will have more of an old-time look, you can also use a staple gun.

  5. 5

    Nail on side rails, starting at the top, making the top rail flush with the top of the end pieces. With the crate lying on its side, lay out the remaining rails, spacing them out. Mark where each will go with a pencil before nailing the remaining rails into place.

  6. 6

    Finish the crate with wood sealant or paint. Or stencil on designs or lettering, labelling the crate if desired.

Tips and warnings

  • Finish the crate with wood sealant or paint or stencil on designs or lettering, if desired.

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