I can never have enough wood crates, especially those vintage farm and orchard wooden crates. However, it is not easy to find the right sizes and perfect designs when you want 100 of them…
Problem solved: now we can easily make free wood crates inspired by vintage crates. They are perfect for organizing, decorating, or sharing as gifts!
BONUS: I also made some collage sheets of old stamps, images and phrases used on these vintage inspired pallet wood crates which you can download at the end of this tutorial!
Instead of settling for cheap wood crates, or spending years trying to find the perfect vintage crates, why not make your own free wooden crates from discarded pallets, and add beautiful designs to them using an easy image transfer method?
This detailed DIY vintage-inspired wood crates tutorial has 3 parts:
Part 1: How to make your own wood crates from pallet wood.
Part 2: How to transfer image to wood easily using only wax paper, water and inkjet printer. I will share some fabulous failures so you can get a more consistent result with this technique.
Part 3: How to make home-made non-toxic furniture wax / natural wood finish for your wooden crates.
Now let’s start with building some wood crates using pallet wood.
Materials and tools to make wood crates from pallets:
( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )
I think wooden pallets are like Cinderella, they are beautiful no matter in a dumpster, or being transformed into thousand dollar furniture. The natural variations of the wood, the stamps & nail holes, the little and big imperfections, are all gorgeous. Your pallet crates will have these rustic characters that cheap wood crates won’t have!
If you plan to make a lot of things with pallets, then our favorite method is with this tool – a Duckbill Deck Wrecker, which makes it 20 times quicker and easier to break apart pallets . This tool lifts those boards easily, and you can take out the nails with a hammer.
The most important thing when selecting a pallet is to look for the HT stamp, which means it’s heat treated instead of chemically treated. ( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )
For this project, one easy way is to cut the 1×4 or 1×6 boards from the rails using a circular saw or jig saw . First cut down the edge of each pallet as close to the end rails as possible to maximize the length of each plank. Then remove the center nails of the pallet using a hammer and a pry bar.
Step 1: Start with the basic structures of wood crates
Wooden crates have three basic parts, see diagram below: bottom, ends (in blue), and sides. There are variations in which the ends are the same length as the bottom, and the sides and ends cover the bottom edges.
Step 2: Measure and cut wood
Determine the length you want on the wooden crates, and mark the bottom and 2 side pieces(yellow) at the same length. Next, use these pieces to determine the end pieces(blue). Sand each piece with either a sanding pad, or a electric sander.
Size and cut the wood pieces for each crate – see diagram below.
Depending on the size of the crate you want, you will need 2 or 3 boards for the bottom.
We used a Makita Multitool to trim and sand smaller irregular edges of the pallet wood.
Step 3: Assemble the wood crates
After all the pieces are cut and sanded, nail or glue the 4 side together first, then nail or glue the bottom to the sides. You can also use pocket hole screws to attach the pieces. We chose nails because of the rustic look we want. If you do use nails, a little pre-drilling helps to prevent cracks.
Don’t these free wood crates already look better than cheap wooden crates?
Now we are ready to add our personal designs to our pallet wood crates! Go to Part 2: easy and fun image transfer to wood tutorial.
This wax is non toxic, and so nice to work with. It’s actually a great hand lotion! You can see from the photos that the color of the wood and images become richer and deeper once you apply the wax.
Here are the collage sheets of stamps, images and phrases used to create these pallet wood crates. DOWNLOAD here.