DIY Vintage Wooden Crates

Megan Elford

Those ugly stacks of bottled water in the kitchen were driving me nuts, and I needed a solution fast.  So off to Michael’s I went!

I found these two wooden crates – half-crates, to be exact – for $8.49 each. I also picked up some Minwax and some chocolate.  Because every project needs chocolate. 

With the help of the Minwax and chocolate, I was able to come up with a couple of vintage-looking wooden crates that could be used for almost anything! Can you imagine these crates with a newborn’s name and birthdate as a baby shower gift? Or how about using them to keep the remote controls contained in the living room?

I figured that, like everything else in this house, these wooden crates would quickly become very well-used. The distressed, vintage look works well in our house for exactly that reason — if it isn’t already distressed, it will be soon.  So why not make it look that way in the first place?

With the help of my husband and my 7-year-old, I put some bumps and dings in the crates. We used a fork and a can opener (because that’s all the searching I wanted to do) but you could use a hammer, nails, screws, chains, an awl . . . basically anything that leaves a dent and looks interesting.

I used the power sander to smooth out the wood and round the edges and corners. Word to the wise: sanding outside at -20C is not recommended. While it keeps the mess at bay, it does tend to get a bit nippy. Especially when you’re wearing thin gloves.

Anyway, then I rubbed Minwax WoodFinish in Golden Oak into every surface with an old towel. I tried to make sure a little extra stayed in the divets and holes that we had created. The Minwax dries quickly, so even though the directions say to rub off the extra with a clean towel, mine had already soaked in and dried by the time I got back to the beginning.

I left the crates to dry for a few hours, but they already looked amazing! Exactly the type of aged, worn look I was going for.

And then came the fun part!

A few years ago I discovered, probably on Pinterest, a super easy way to do ink transfers onto wood. All you need is a printer, a graphic or design, wax paper, cardstock, tape and a flat-edged spatula or ruler for rubbing the design.  This method is perfect for vintage wooden signs, crates (of course), or anything else you can think of.

1. Prepare your transfer paper. Lay a large piece of wax paper down and place a piece of 8.5″x11″ cardstock on top of it. Fold the edges of the wax paper over the cardstock. The cardstock is only there to help the wax paper go through your printer, but because of that, you’ll need to make sure your edges are folded down tightly. Tape the folded edges down.

2. Design your graphic or the text you’d like to put on the wood and reverse it. I used PicMonkey to type out my text (“Elford Family Since 1996″).  I inserted it into a blank Word document and reversed it. This step is essential. You’ll be transferring the words or image directly, so you’ll need to print it out the opposite of how you’d like it to appear. I suggest printing out a test copy on regular white paper so that you can line everything up and make sure it’s going to look the way you want it to.

3. When you’re ready to print, make sure everything is close at hand. The ink dries quickly, so you’ll need to be prepared. You’ll need your prepped transfer paper, your wooden crate (or other wooden object), and your metal spatula or ruler.

4. Print the design onto your homemade transfer paper. Quickly place it facedown on your wooden crate and rub the back of it firmly with the spatula or ruler. Try to go over the entire surface at least 4 or 5 times.

5. Take the transfer off and admire your work! If you wipe off your transfer paper, you should be able to use it a few more times.  I ran mine through the printer four times in total, using each end twice.

You may want to add a coat of clear polyurethane to protect the transfer.

There you have it — an easy way to add to your decor (and hide less pretty things) with a DIY Vintage Wooden Crate!


DIY Vintage Wooden Crates

 This post was syndicated with permission to BonBon Break Media, LLC.

Megan Elford is a work-at-home-mother who enjoys her job as an Administrative Assistant, stalking her three children at school under the guise of "volunteering" and taking on DIY projects that exceed her skill set. She maintains a blog at Welcome To The Zoo, and loves to write about her experiences with running her in-home daycare, the crazy genius things her kids teach her, and all of the steps that she and her husband are taking to expand their family through domestic adoption.