DIY Décor: How to Customize a Wooden Storage Crate

Posted by: on February 11th, 2013 | 37 Comments
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Finished DIY wooden storage crate with pillows and blankets inside


On our website (and in some stores), you can find unfinished wooden storage crates that are often handy for out-of-sight storage, like in a garage. But their unstained finish may not make them a great storage option for your living room. With a bit of stain and some cabinet pulls, however, we were able to customize a DIY wooden storage crate to give it a more finished look.


Supplies needed to build a DIY Wooden Storage Crate


For this project, you’ll need the following supplies:

Image of sticker residue left on wood


Start by removing the sticker residue from the wood using a residue cleaner, and then sand the area thoroughly.


Hammer being used to tack scrap wood to the inside of a wooden crate


Next, use a couple of small shims or scrap wood (I used cut pieces of paint stirrers) and gently tack them to the inside of the crate. Because you’ll be filling the hand hole with wood filler, you’ll want a flat, even surface on the inside of the hole to fill.


Image of wood filler layered over hand holes in wooden crate


Next, fill the hole with wood filler. I wasn’t careful on this side about getting the filler onto the surrounding wood, and unfortunately this can leave you with unevenness when you start staining later. If you want, be a bit tidier with the wood filler!


Sanding wood filler with a sanding block


Let the wood filler harden overnight, then begin sanding the side of the crate. I prefer to use a sanding block rather than a piece of sandpaper because of its hard, flat surface. The block ensures the flat crate front will be smooth. Go “through the grain,” starting with a low-grit sanding block and slowly moving up to a high-grit (fine) sanding block.


Smooth-looking area on wooden crate where wood filler was sanded


The side of your crate should look like this — smooth, with no bumps or unevenness.


Brown stain being applied to wooden crate with a staining pad


Next, begin staining! I used Minwax Jacobean stain and applied it with a staining pad.


Clean staining pad being used to wipe away excess stain


Wipe the stain onto the wood, then use a clean staining pad to wipe away any excess.

Because I was filling my crate with pillows and throw blankets, I did not stain the inside of the crate. If I had stained the inside and any stain residue remained, it would have ruined my pillows and blankets.


Pencil being used to mark where cabinet pull screws will go


Once your stain is fully dry (I suggest waiting at least a full day), mark where you’ll need to screw in your cabinet pulls.


Electric drill being used on outside of wooden crate to drill holes for the cabinet pull screws


Drill holes where you’ve marked, being sure to drill all the way through the wood filler.


Electric drill being used on inside of wooden crate to drill holes for the cabinet pull screws


You may need to drill from both sides.


Screws being inserted into holes for cabinet pulls


Next, begin screwing in the screws for the cabinet pulls with a screwdriver.


Cabinet pulls being attached to wooden crate


Finish screwing in the pulls, and you’re done!


Finished DIY wooden storage crate with pillows and blankets inside


DIY Décor is a series about small, affordable design and décor projects for home and garden.


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  1. Heather says:

    Hello- I have purchased these crates from my local Home Depot and was planning on staining and modifying them to use them for shoe storage. I have a really tight entrance way and I want each crate to be 7 inches deep. I was planning on popping the slats off the back, cutting the sides down, re attaching the slats and using the 2 side slats that I don’t need on the front to add storage. I want to eventually stack them on top of each other at the entrance way so you can pop shoes in them. The slats that I will put on the front will allow the crates to hold more. The problem is, is that when I am trying to pop the slats off they are just splitting. Do you have any suggestions as to how I could get them off without damaging the wood? Or does home depot ever make custom crates?

  2. Jeanne Hare says:

    Loved the project and am thinking about making this for our home.

  3. Rachel says:

    I’m definitely trying this! Also, where are those pillows from? I MUST have the turquoise!


  4. Chelsea says:

    This is fantastic! I am definitely doing it!

  5. Carolyn says:

    Love it ! Which tint of minwax did you use ? Thank you for your tips !!

  6. Nada waking says:

    Such useful and great DIY ideas. Thank you for the details.

  7. Shelley says:

    Oh yeah, I forgot to say Thank You HD for teaching me so much through your website; your in-store classes; and your helpful staff. I wouldn’t have such a beautiful home without all your help and wide selection of great products. You changed the way hardware stores used to operate. From just selling basic hardware to much bigger selections of great products; ideas; and DIY Projects, and your tutorials showing people it’s possible to DIY and save money too. You are Americas #1 store. That’s why I love the Home Depot!

  8. Shelley says:

    This is such a cute idea and useful too. I have learned a lot of DIY projects from Home Depot (HD). I’m always looking for the next fun idea from HD. I just love the Home Depot.

  9. [...] this tutorial from the Home Depot blog you can rough up a crate in the prettiest way possible and use it to store your cozy throws and [...]

  10. [...] Photo Credit [] [...]

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  12. [...] DIY: how to customize a wooden crate (via The Home Depot) [...]

  13. [...] DIY and photo credit to: [...]

  14. Morgan says:

    I bought two of these from Home Depot.

    Would I have to sand the wood first? Before I stain.

    • Craig Allen says:

      Caroline only sanded where there had been a sticker and where she used some wood filler. Otherwise, it’s probably not really necessary to sand the rest of the crate before staining. The naked wood should be ready to go as is.

      -Craig, from The Home Depot

  15. [...] more stained wooden crates for things in the living [...]

  16. [...] DIY Décor: How To Customize A Wooden Storage Crate [...]

  17. [...] Want to learn how to make this wooden crate? Click here.  [...]

  18. Ginger says:

    I’m a bit baffled at why Home Depot would feature such a badly done project. The stain is uneven, and it looks unfinished without the interior being stained. A mat varnish would keep the stain from rubbing off and improve the way the crate looks. Doing a terrible job of using wood filler is really not acceptable if you’re staining rather than painting. It would have made more sense to find a pull wider than the finger hole.

    • Hi Ginger,

      You’re right, you could certainly find a pull that is larger than the existing hole in the crate. That’s a really great idea!

      The purpose of this project was just to remind people that you can customize our unstained storage crates to suit your functional needs and your style. I didn’t stain the inside of the crate because I knew it would always be filled with blankets and pillows, so you’d really never see the inside. But, if you were to fill it with other items like kids toys or magazines and you want the inside to be finished, then you’re right a stain with a topcoat is a great option.

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Senior Editor,

  19. Alissa says:

    I love the pillows! Where did you get them?

  20. I really like this cute little crate. I’m actually alerting you that this site has scraped your tutorial. I just found it when I was alerted that they scraped one of my tutorials too: [link removed]

  21. [...] Outfitters Polka Dot Boxes/ Pillow & Blanket Crate/ Column Bookcase/ Tea Cup Jewelry Storage/ Bathroom [...]

  22. SHIRL SMITH says:


  23. Mary says:

    I would suggest using some thin wood (like underlayment) for the outside and wood putty on the inside only for a cleaner look. I’m sure someone at Home Depot would cut it to size for you.

    • Hi Mary,

      That’s a great idea as well! Thanks for the tip!

      Senior Editor

    • Mary L. says:

      Mary…That was my first thought too. I also wondered why the crate had only one cutout for a hand hold…doesn’t make functional sense to me. That would have simplified the whole project but, alas, it had only one
      The paint stirrer step could have been reversed. I would have securely taped the paint stirrer to the outside of the crate with painter’s tape (no nail holes) and filled the cut out hand hold from the inside for a much neater finished look. Of course, a scraper or putty knife could have been used to level and remove the excess wood filler before it hardened. The stain did give a nice rustic look. Painting or an antiquing treatment Iinside and out) would have worked well too….better coverage for hiding flaws. All in all, a fun and functional project.