Small wooden crates are very handy in any room of the house. In the garage, they can be used to store equipment, rags, or maybe even fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden. Inside the house they could be used for toy storage for the kids, or maybe even as a decoration piece. The great part about this project is that I was able to make my own cheap wooden crates instead of buying expensive ones.
If you are looking for the absolute cheapest way to build crates then it is going to take a little extra work. On the other hand, if you are willing to spend a little more on some finished lumber then the work you will have to do is much less.
The simplest way to make a wooden crate is to cut two end pieces and a bottom piece out of plywood. Then buy some ½in x 3in wood boards and rip them down the center to make them ½ in x 1 ½ in slats. Secure the end pieces onto the bottom and use the slats on the sides and you’re all done.
The thing about the plywood is that it isn’t very attractive. Unless you are painting the crate and want to apply a few coats to make it look ok, then you won’t want to use this option. It is really easy but the crates don’t look like something you’d want to display in the house.
For my project, I decided to make my own end pieces and cut my own slats without a complete bottom. Here is a list of the tools I used:
- DeWalt Plate Joiner
- 18 Gauge Brad Nailer
- DeWalt Sliding Compound Miter Saw
- DeWalt Sheet Sander
- Ridgid Portable Table Saw
The cut list for this project is as follows:
- 12-1/2in x 4-3/4in x 3/4in (QTY – 4) End Piece – You need 4 of these since 2 will be glued together in order to make a single end piece.
- 18in x 2-1/4in x 1/2in (QTY – 13) Slats – I did not use a solid board as the bottom and instead used more slats. If you want a solid bottom then you'll need less slats but have to create your own bottom board.
Cutting the Boards & Assembly
I cut the end pieces out of some 3/4in boards. These boards will be glued together to make a board that is 12-1/2in x 9-1/2in. I sanded the edges that would be glued together and made sure they had a good fit. The DeWalt Plate Joiner came in very handy to cut the biscuit slots.
Note: I prefer biscuits because they are hidden and this crate isn't going to see a lot of load, but you could very easily use another form of joint. Biscuit joints aren't always the strongest, so if you plan on your crate being abused, you may want to use dowels.
After the biscuit slots were cut, I glued in the biscuits and clamped the whole assembly to dry.
While the end pieces were drying I started to cut the slats. The table saw was used to rip a 1/2in board down to a width of 2-1/4in. I then used my compound miter saw to cut the board down to 18in lengths.
Once the end pieces were dry, I sanded them down. I prefer to do my sanding after joining so that I get a perfectly smooth joint. If I sand before joining, then I always need to do a little bit of touch up at the joint, so why not do it all at once?
I put some glue on the slats as I attached them to the end pieces. I then secured them with 1in brads using my brad nailer.
In the end this was a very simple and easy project to make. This was the best way to make wooden crates cheap and fast. The video below shows an example of the project that I made.