I thought to start with one of my favorite projects so far, the simple and easy to make Rustic Crate Shelf. I’ve seen many blogs making bookshelves out of old apple crates, which require no aging. However, if you’re like me and have no access to wonderfully aged apple crates, I offer another solution. Make your own!
Here’s what you need
- 4-Unfinished wood crates
- Steel Wool
- Tea (optional)
- 1 Polyurethane Satin Clear
- Paint brush
- 4-4 Bag Mending Plates
- Flat black protective enamel spray paint
- 1/16 drill bit
I headed to my local Michaels and picked up four of their unfinished wood crates, found in the wood craft supplies section, for about $12.99 regular, but I got mine for $9.99 on sale.
I wanted to make a movie storage stand so I placed the crates where I wanted them to go and then decided on a finish. I was originally planning on white but then thought a more rustic worn driftwood look would fit my decor a bit better. So I turned to a method I had heard about, but was not entirely convinced would work, a steel wool and vinegar stain.
In the picture below, the bottom crate is untouched wood, the middle crate has just the tea, and the top crate has been stained with the tea and then had the steel wool and vinegar coat applied. The steel wool ad vinegar solution, seen above, is clear when left to settle but when painted on the wood the reaction will still take place. The reaction can be seen immediately in certain places, but I found with this wood it took a little while for the reaction to take place, most likely because these were pine boxes.
I didn’t think it was changing enough, so I put a second coat of the steel wool and vinegar on. I wish I hadn’t now since it did deepen the color considerably. I don’t have a picture of the crates before I put the polyurethane on, but it was a much more muted grey/brown. If I did this again I would skip the tea and only 1 layer of the steel wool/vinegar so I would get a more greyish color.
To add a nice finished look to the bookcase I did add Minwax Clear Satin Polyurethane from Home Depot. Adding this, did give the shelf a nice finished look, without being too glossy, but it did darken the color up a considerable amount. I would suggest trying the finish on a stained part of the back of the crates to see if you like how it darkens it.
Once they were all stained, I needed a way to fasten them together so they wouldn’t fall apart or fall victim to small hands tugging on them. I found 2 inch Mending Plates at Home Depot, 4 to a bag for $2.48. For this project I used 16 total, so four bags. These plates do not have screws with them but they were simple enough to read the size they recommended and then find them. I noticed that cheaper screws had some writing/engraving on the heads and I didn’t want that so it may be something to watch out for if a detail like that would bug you. I didn’t want shiny silver hardware on my freshly aged bookshelf, so I bought Rustoleum flat protective enamel black spray paint and went to work. I found the easiest way to paint them was to use a cardboard box. I stuck the screws straight up into the cardboard and laid the mending plates down flat and gave them a good coat.
I decided that I wanted there to be two brackets on each side holding the two crates together.
I first held up a plate about where I wanted it and then used a pencil to mark the center of the top hole.
I then used a 1/16th drill bit (the size recommended on the bag of screws) to drill on my mark and screwed the top screw almost all the way in, I then lined up the drill bit in the center of the bottom hole and drilled the hole to help ensure the hole would be in the right spot.
Then repeat this for every junction on both sides for a good sturdy shelf!
Now you are ready to fill and enjoy!