Pallet Recycle – Garden Crate

Pallets are a great source of weathered wood slats for rustic DIY projects. Thankfully, most pallets are free if you just ask (behind strip malls is a great place to check – but always ask, because some stores reuse their pallets). I will warn you, however, that taking them apart is not always easy, so do your research. I spent hours breaking my back to tear them apart so it’s time to get something in return for all my labor.

I have a habit of taking walks around my garden in the evenings to say hello to the plants and I inevitably pick some veggies. Cherry tomatoes and herb bundles drop from my arms all the way back to the house because I always forget to bring a basket out with me. So I figured it would be perfect if I had a container that could withstand the elements so I can leave it outside indefinitely.

A wooden crate is super easy and a laid back rustic style to fit perfectly in the garden. It can’t be difficult, right? I mean, I can figure out how to build it just by looking at one. I seriously thought it would take me 30 minutes to get one cranked out…..so I dropped off the boys at soccer practice and drove home to start cutting and building.

I had no plans – no measurements – no specifics. All I wanted was something capable of holding some squash, lettuce and tomatoes – not asking for much. So, I started by cutting my 4 corner posts. I picked those up at Home Depot for 87¢ each and cut them in half….there is my height for the crate.

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My plan was to build two sides and then attach the other two sides and then, the bottom and some handes. BOOM! Seems simple, right?

Sure. In theory.

The first problem I came across was that not all pallet wood is equal. Some of them are thicker and some of them are thinner. Some of them are soft and some of them are hard. I couldn’t even drill through one board it was such hard wood. I bent 5 nails trying to hammer through it. I was flabbergasted. I yelled at the board and at myself and then I had to go get the boys at soccer practice. I am not going to finish this tonight. Dangit.

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Continued later… I picked a different board and a different drill bit. FYI: my crate was made with a hammer and nails because I got impatient. But, I honestly suggest the screws and will be doing that for the next one. Moving on. This is how you make a crate:

TOOLS AND SUPPLIES:

  • measuring tape
  • power drill & drill bits & screws
  • 1-2 pallets for the wood slats
  • circular saw or miter saw
  • 4 “corner” pieces – I used 2 87¢ balusters that I cut in half so I got 4 corners

STEPS:

  • Decide the height, length and width of your crate. cut the short sides first (width) and the corners (height)
  • Attach the slats to the corner pieces by laying them out on the driveway or a solid table – I placed the top slat flush against the top of the corner piece and the bottom slat flush against the bottom of the corner piece then I lined up the third slat so that it was equally spaced between the top and bottom slats. Drill pilots holes and then screw them all in. Do again for other side. You should have two sides now.
  • Take those two sides and set them up so you can attach the long sides to them. Drill Pilot holes and screw together. Repeat on other side. I did my best to line up the slats on the corners, but because my pallets slats were varying sizes, it wasn’t perfect and just added to the charm of the rustic crate. #creativeexcuses

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  • You should now have 4 sides and no bottom! Congratulations! I hope you didn’t run into any weird hardwood slats like I did.

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  • Now it’s time to add the bottom – measure the length first and then cut the slats. This is where I came into more trouble…..because I didn’t really have much to screw into since my slats were pretty narrow. So, if you have narrow slats as well (if they are thick, you won’t have this issue) you may need to add a small piece of baluster running across the bottom between each short end of the crate. It’s basically just something for you to screw into. But, you will also need to screw that small piece in too.

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  • See what I mean about it not being as easy as I thought?
  • After the bottom was completed, I used a large drill bit and drilled 2 holes on the sides and wove the roping through and tied knots of the ends to create handles. Make sure they are both the same length.

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In the end, I have a functioning crate and it’s pretty damn adorable. Did I learn something? Absolutely: Never try to get projects done while your kids are at soccer practice. Now bring on the veggies!

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