Timber crates are a favorite source of material for crafters who love DIY projects. The timber used for crates is often very strong and durable, and worn or weathered crates can offer a rustic look for your project. You might also be able to find these used crates for free if you live near any place that regularly ships with timber crates and might simply toss them out after their use. When you do collect these timber crates, note a few things that many crafters overlook so you ensure your project goes smoothly and the finished product lasts.
1. Prepping the crate
A used crate can look rustic and aged, but it can also be downright dangerous if the wood is splintered or there are exposed nails and other connectors. Before you start any DIY project with wood crates, be prepared to sand it down, fill in holes and cracks with wood putty, and replace nails if needed.
Thoroughly cleaning a crate is also needed even if you get a used crate from a warehouse and haven't picked it out of the trash. The crate might be holding bugs and insects or some type of residue from the warehouse or shipper, so be prepared to wash down a crate with wood soap before you bring it into your home.
Note too that some crates are made only for limited use by a shipper so they may not be properly sealed with a poly coating so the wood lasts. This can lead to chips or water damage as the wood absorbs moisture. After sanding the crate, add a coat of sealant, paint, or something else that will protect the surface.
2. Bracing it up
Wood crates can be strong depending on their intended use, but remember that they're not all alike. A wood crate made for shipping produce may be made with lightweight balsa wood, versus one made to ship liquor bottles and made with a stronger plywood. If you pick up lightweight crates and want to use them for storage, you need to be prepared to add a length of plywood or other bracing to the bottom.
Note too that if you attach the bottom of a crate to the wall for open shelving, a common DIY project, you are now using a side of the crate as the bottom of your shelf. This side may not be intended for holding anything heavy, so you might need to add a small sheet of wood or shims before putting anything on your new shelf.
Timber crates can be a great option for DIY projects; just make sure you take any preparation steps that may be necessary to make sure the project lasts.