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The Crate Bookshelf

stack of produce crates

I have always admired the crates they sell at the flea markets and have always wanted to do something with them. But they are like $40 each... To do a bookshelf out of those crates would be almost $500 - Let's be honest, that's not happening!

I found a listing on Craiglist for grocery crates for $5 each. I guess the guy had made friends with some of the local grocery stores, and they would give them to him for free! Some were in better condition than others, but I picked the best 8 i could find.

Then, I went to Lowe's to pick up some stain and found some dark walnut Rust-oleum stain in the "As Is" section for $2.50! I was looking for a darker stain to make the rough crates look richer. Here's a link to the same stain if you're interested!

rustoleum walnut wood stain

My mom had gotten some wooden wine crates and given them to me for the project. (She was always keeping her eye out for potential craft project supplies - that's where I got it from!) So in total, I ended up using 13 crates for the whole shelf.

First things first, I sanded down the edges of crates to get rid of any really rough spots. Since they are made out of pallet wood though, it's impossible to get them smooth, so I just wanted to smooth out the worst parts (but I still wouldn't want to run my hand along them ;-) Once they were sanded down, I took them out back at our townhome and spread out some towels and got to work staining. I just used a standard paint brush, but it sucked the stain up like nobody's business so I had to dip the brush in the stain constantly - it didn't go very far!

This is what they looked like before we screwed them together!

stack of stained crates

empty finished crate bookshelf

Once they dried (I waited a few days to be sure they were fully dried), we started playing around with the placement of the crates. I wanted them to look "random", but still cohesive. We ended up with the arrangement to the right.

Then I got some help from my hubby and the new drill I got him for Christmas! We used black screws and began screwing them together. It was a little difficult in some places, but it helped that the slated crates had reinforced corners. So we tried to screw most of them through the thicker corners. We used about 4 screws per crate (depending on the placement of the crate).

It's definitely not the sturdiest shelf on the planet, but we have moved it a few times without major issues. Once we have kids, we may need to screw it to the wall so they don't pull it on top of themselves, but it works quite well now!

All in, we spent less than $50 on the shelf between the crates, stain, and screws! I'd call that a win!

Here it is fully decorated and in action in our home. I added some baskets for storage to make it a little more practical, but it's mostly filled with fun little knick knacks and deocorative pieces!

decorated crate bookshelf

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