Turn Old Crates into Industrial Shelving

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Turn Old Crates into Industrial Shelving

Upcycling Crates into Chic Industrial Shelving

Have you ever looked at a stack of old crates and thought, “There’s gotta be a better use for those than just taking up space in the garage?” Well my friends, I’m here to tell you that with a little elbow grease and a few power tools, you can turn those drab wooden boxes into stylish and functional industrial-inspired shelving!

I’ll be the first to admit, when I inherited my grandfather’s collection of old fruit and vegetable crates, I had no idea what to do with them. They were just taking up valuable real estate in my workshop. But then I had a lightbulb moment – why not use them to create some unique storage solutions? Let me tell you, it was one of the most rewarding DIY projects I’ve ever tackled.

The great thing about using crates for shelving is that it gives your space an instant industrial vibe. There’s just something about the raw, utilitarian look of exposed wood and metal hardware that I find so appealing. Plus, it’s a super budget-friendly way to add some personality to your home or office. And the best part? It’s a project that anyone with a basic set of power tools can take on.

So if you’re ready to breathe new life into those old crates taking up space, grab your safety goggles and let’s get to work! In this guide, I’ll walk you through the entire process, from selecting the right crates to customizing your shelves. By the time you’re done, you’ll have one-of-a-kind storage that’s not only functional, but a real showstopper.

Choosing the Right Crates

The first step in this upcycling journey is finding the perfect crates to work with. Now, you might be tempted to just grab the first weathered wooden box you can get your hands on, but trust me, taking the time to select the right crates can make a big difference in the final product.

When I was scouring local thrift stores and antique shops for my project, I had a few key criteria in mind. First and foremost, I was looking for crates that were in relatively sturdy condition. No need to be rebuilding everything from scratch, you know? I wanted ones that still had solid sides and bottoms, without any major cracks or damage.

Secondly, I focused on finding crates that had a nice rustic or industrial aesthetic. You know, the kind with that perfect patina of wear and tear. Smooth, unfinished wood is ideal, but I was also open to crates with a bit of paint or staining – as long as it added to the overall look I was going for.

And let’s not forget about size! Depending on where you plan to use your new shelving, you’ll want to choose crates that fit the available space. Personally, I opted for a mix of different dimensions so I could play around with different configurations. But you do you, boo!

Once you’ve scoped out a few promising candidates, it’s time to do a quick quality check. Give each crate a good once-over, making sure there are no major structural issues or safety hazards. If everything checks out, congrats! You’re one step closer to your dream industrial shelves.

Preparing the Crates

Alright, so you’ve got your hands on some killer vintage crates – now what? Well my friends, it’s time to get your DIY hat on and start the transformation process. Don’t worry, it’s not as daunting as it might seem. With the right tools and a little elbow grease, you’ll have those babies prepped and ready to go in no time.

The first order of business is a good old-fashioned cleaning. I know, I know – not the most exciting part. But trust me, taking the time to remove any dirt, dust, or debris is crucial for ensuring a smooth finish. Grab a rag, some all-purpose cleaner, and get to work scrubbing down those crates until they’re sparkling.

Once they’re all nice and clean, it’s time to assess the structural integrity. Give each crate a thorough inspection, looking for any loose nails, wobbly joints, or other potential weak spots. If you find anything that needs a little TLC, now’s the time to bust out your trusty power tools and make the necessary repairs. A little wood glue and a few well-placed nails or screws can work wonders.

And let’s not forget about the finishing touches! Depending on the look you’re going for, you might want to consider sanding down the crates to achieve a smoother surface. Or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you could even stain or paint them to really make them pop. Just be sure to use products that are safe for wood and won’t compromise the integrity of the material.

By the time you’re done with this prep work, your crates should be in tip-top shape and ready to be transformed into the industrial shelving of your dreams. Time to move on to the fun part – the actual assembly!

Assembling Your Shelves

Alright, now that we’ve got our crates all cleaned up and prepped, it’s time for the main event – putting them together into some killer industrial-style shelving. This is where the real magic happens, my friends.

The great thing about using crates for shelves is that the assembly process is pretty darn straightforward. No complicated instructions or head-scratching required. In fact, if you can stack a few boxes on top of each other, you’ve basically got the whole thing figured out.

I like to start by laying out all my crates in the configuration I have in mind. This gives me a chance to play around with the arrangement and make sure it’s going to look just right in the space. Once I’ve settled on a design I’m happy with, it’s time to get to work.

The key is to make sure each crate is securely stacked on top of the one below it. I usually achieve this by adding a few sturdy L-brackets or corner braces between the levels. This not only keeps everything stable, but also adds a nice touch of industrial flair.

And don’t be afraid to get a little creative with your shelving setup! One of my favorite things about this project is the ability to mix and match crates of different sizes and shapes. It allows you to create truly unique storage solutions that are tailored to your specific needs.

For example, you could try alternating horizontal and vertical crates to add some visual interest. Or experiment with staggering the levels to give your shelves a more dynamic, asymmetrical look. The possibilities are endless, my friends!

As you’re assembling your shelves, just be sure to keep safety top of mind. Double-check that everything is securely fastened and won’t wobble or topple over. And of course, don’t forget to use proper protective equipment like safety goggles and gloves.

Once you’ve got your shelves assembled, the final step is to load them up! Grab your favorite decorative accents, plants, books, or whatever else you want to display and start styling. Trust me, the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you step back and admire your handiwork is unbeatable.

Customizing Your Shelves

Okay, so you’ve got your sturdy industrial shelves all assembled and ready to go. But the fun doesn’t have to stop there, my friends. In fact, this is where you can really let your creativity shine and make these shelves your own.

One of the best things about using crates for shelving is the endless possibilities for customization. Whether you’re looking to add a pop of color, incorporate some unique hardware, or put your own personal stamp on the design, the world is your industrial-chic oyster.

Take the hardware, for example. Sure, you could just stick with basic L-brackets and call it a day. But why not get a little more adventurous? Maybe try mixing in some eye-catching metal corner braces or rustic pipe fittings for an extra touch of industrial edge. Or if you’re feeling really bold, you could even experiment with hanging the crates from the ceiling using chains or thick rope.

And the finishing touches don’t have to stop at the hardware, my friends. If you really want to take your shelves to the next level, consider adding a custom wood topper or even a sleek metal lip around the edges. Not only does it give the whole setup a more polished look, but it also helps to keep your precious cargo from sliding off.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – all of this customization sounds great, but isn’t it going to be a ton of work? Well, let me put your mind at ease. With the right power tools and a little bit of elbow grease, most of these DIY upgrades are actually pretty straightforward. And the end result is so worth it, trust me.

So don’t be afraid to get a little creative and make these shelves your own. After all, the true beauty of this project is that it allows you to infuse your personal style into every nook and cranny. Whether you keep it simple and streamlined or go all-out with the industrial flair, the final product is guaranteed to be a showstopper.

Styling Your New Shelves

Alright, so you’ve built your killer industrial shelves, customized them to perfection, and now you’re ready to style them up, am I right? Well, get ready for the fun part, my friends, because this is where you get to let your inner interior designer shine.

The great thing about these crate shelves is that they provide the perfect canvas for all sorts of styling magic. Whether you’re going for a modern, minimalist look or something a little more eclectic and boho, the raw, rustic materials lend themselves to endless possibilities.

Personally, I love to start with a solid foundation of books, plants, and other practical storage pieces. These provide a great base that you can then build upon with all sorts of decorative accents. Think sleek ceramic vases, vintage trinkets, or even some funky retro lamps. The key is to mix and match different textures, shapes, and heights to create visual interest.

And don’t be afraid to get a little playful with your styling, either. After all, these shelves are meant to showcase your personality, right? Maybe you want to add a few quirky figurines or hang some cool wall art above them. Or if you’re feeling extra creative, you could even try incorporating some DIY elements, like macrame plant hangers or hand-painted ceramic pieces.

One of my favorite styling tricks is to use the varying crate sizes and configurations to your advantage. Try staggering the levels or mixing horizontal and vertical orientations to create dynamic, eye-catching displays. It’s all about playing with the shapes and proportions to achieve that perfect balance.

And let’s not forget about functionality, my friends. While these shelves are certainly made to be admired, they’re also meant to serve a practical purpose. So be sure to reserve some space for your everyday essentials, whether that’s kitchen gadgets, office supplies, or good old-fashioned books and magazines.

The key is to have fun with it and let your creativity flow. After all, the beauty of this project is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. So go ahead, get a little crazy, and create a shelf display that’s as unique and special as you are. Trust me, the end result is going to be nothing short of show-stopping.

Real-Life Inspiration

Now, I know what you’re thinking – all of this sounds great in theory, but how do these industrial crate shelves actually look in real life? Well my friends, let me tell you, the before-and-after transformations I’ve seen are truly jaw-dropping.

Take my buddy Jim, for example. He had this old shed in his backyard that was just a cluttered mess, filled to the brim with random junk and forgotten treasures. But with a little bit of elbow grease and some killer DIY skills, he managed to turn it into the coolest home workshop you’ve ever seen. And the centerpiece? A set of gorgeous crate shelves that he custom-built to fit the space.

The way Jim tells it, he spent weeks scouring local thrift stores and antique markets, hunting down the perfect mix of crates. He ended up with a variety of sizes and styles, everything from smooth, unfinished wood to weathered, paint-chipped boxes. Then it was just a matter of assembling them into a sturdy, multi-level shelving system that perfectly complemented the industrial vibe of the space.

But the best part? Jim didn’t just stop at the shelves themselves. Oh no, he really went all out with the styling. He loaded them up with all sorts of cool vintage finds – old tools, rusty metal accents, even a few quirky knick-knacks that he’d collected over the years. The end result is a workspace that’s equal parts practical and downright drool-worthy.

And Jim’s not the only one who’s completely transformed his space with these crate shelves. I’ve seen similar projects popping up all over the place, from cozy home offices to trendy boutique retail stores. It’s amazing to see how versatile and adaptable this DIY concept can be.

One of my personal favorites is the shelving system that my friend Sara built for her small-but-mighty urban apartment. She managed to squeeze in these killer crate shelves in the most unexpected places – under the stairs, in her entryway, even flanking her tv. And the way she styled them? Pure perfection. A mix of sleek modern decor and rustic, vintage-inspired accents that come together in the most effortlessly cool way.

So if you’re still on the fence about tackling this industrial crate shelving project, let these real-life examples be your inspiration. With a little creativity, the right tools, and a whole lot of elbow grease, you too can transform those humble wooden boxes into showstopping storage solutions that are guaranteed to impress. Trust me, your friends and family are going to be begging you to spill your DIY secrets.


Well, there you have it, my friends – everything you need to know about turning those old crates into chic industrial-inspired shelving. From selecting the perfect raw materials to customizing your finished product, I’ve walked you through the entire process, step-by-step.

And let me tell you, the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you step back and admire your handiwork is truly unbeatable. These shelves aren’t just functional storage solutions, they’re bold, one-of-a-kind design statements that infuse your space with tons of personality.

So what are you waiting for? Gather up those crates, grab your power tools, and let’s get to work! With a little bit of elbow grease and a whole lot of creativity, you’re going to transform those humble wooden boxes into the star attraction of your home or office.

And don’t forget – the styling possibilities are endless. Whether you keep it simple and streamlined or go all-out with the industrial flair, these shelves are guaranteed to be a showstopper. So have fun with it, my friends, and let your inner designer shine.

Who knows, you might just end up with the coolest DIY project your friends and family have ever seen. But hey, that’s half the fun, isn’t it? So what are you waiting for? Let’s get to work and turn those old crates into something truly spectacular!

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