dil·i·gence:careful and persistent work or effort

Proverbs 13: 4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Custom wooden crates

Alternate title:  Oh my gosh, I successfully made something!  Like built it from scratch with my own two hands, and it works and doesn't fall apart!!
If you follow me on Instragram (emilysteplowski), you might have seen this picture pop up on your feed a week or so ago.
And, if you're smart you probably figured the plywood was for the second installment of the closet to mudroom transformation, but what about all those wood slats?  32 of them, to be exact.  Well, now you know they were for a couple wooden crates I built.  Okay, here goes with another attempt at a tutorial.  Regular disclaimers apply.

Since I was making these crates specifically for under the bench that my Dad and I had just built in the closet, I had exact dimensions that I needed to use for my crates.  But, the beauty of this project is that you can build these to any size you want.  I needed my finished product to be 22 1/2" wide, 22 1/2" deep, and about 12" tall.  Here's a shot of the lumber I used for each crate.
This consists of 16 slats (1/2" x 2 1/2" pine boards), 4 corner pieces (2x2), and a sheet of 1/2" birch plywood.  The slats were cut to two different dimensions:  the 4 front and the 4 back slats were cut to 22 1/2" long.  The side 8 slats were cut to 21 1/2" long.  The corner pieces are approximately 11 1/2" long, and the plywood is 22 1/2" square.  Turning this pile of wood into a crate was pretty simple and only required a nail gun, which I borrowed from a friend.

I started by building the sides of the crates.  I laid out the corner pieces flat on the floor and spanned a slat from one side to the other.  Since the height of our already-built bench dictated the height of these crates, I left some space between the slats to get to the required finished height.
 Once I had the two sides built, I started building the front by standing the sides up on end.
 One by one, I added the front slats, and then the back ones.  Pretty soon, I had a box!
Here you can see the way I constructed the box, and this should explain why the side slats were cut shorter than the front and back ones. 
From there, I attached the plywood bottom, slapped on a coat of Minwax stain in Ebony, and added some rope handles.  I went back and forth about adding any sort of protective finish but eventually decided against it, as I don't really mind if these crates become more distressed looking over time.  After a couple days outside to air out, I brought my sturdy crates back in and slid them into place.  And, well, it was pretty much love all over again.
I love the way they fit the space perfectly.  I love the dark finish against the crisp white of the molding.  I love that they are super relaxed looking and feeling. We are keeping our shoes in them already, which is super convenient right here by the front door.  Colin uses one bin, and I use the other.
I want to show you the million other pictures I've snapped, but I must resist or else I won't have anything left for a final reveal of the coat closet to mudroom!  So, here are a couple other shots of the bins being used for storage.

 I could totally imagine using these crates throughout my house for various things.  How cute would one of these be in a kids room or a playroom?!
Now, I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to 2 people with regards to the construction of these wooden crates.  Because while I did build them all by myself, I did have help with the project.  You see, I don't own a miter saw.  All I have is a handsaw and a miter box.  And, while I do make that work for cutting molding and such, I cannot imagine if I had to cut all 32 of these slats by hand.  I'd have carpel tunnel for sure.  So, my dad cut half of the slats for me and a friend's husband cut the other half for me.  And, they each also cut a piece of plywood down for me- one with a circular saw, and one with a table saw.  So, to Dad and Nate:  thank you!  I couldn't have done this without your help!



**sharing with the girls at


  1. Emily- Congratulations! They turned out great. It is wonderful that you have someone willing to help you out- that is a LOT of mitering work- xo Diana