How to Make Wooden Soda Crates | i should be mopping the floor
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How to Make Wooden Soda Crates

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I love all things vintage, chippy and full of history. 
So, when a big mistake turned into my very own collection of DIY Wooden Soda Crates, I wasn't even a little bit sad. See how to make your own wooden soda crates below.

How to Make Wooden Soda Crates

I've always enjoyed those classic vintage soda crates (the ones from Squirt and Coca-Cola are my faves with their vintage advertising look). But, crates like those can run up to sixty bucks apiece these days (even at flea markets). That's a bit too spendy for the number of these boxes I really want. After a BIG accident in our entry way, I found a way to upcycle another item and make my own old soda crates. And now, I can't quit making these things. They're fantastic for storage and a bit of vintage home decor.

Wooden Soda Crates

Vintage Soda Crate Uses
These wooden soda crates turned out a bit better than I initially expected. The uses for them are really endless. Here are a few thought-starters, though:

Uses for Vintage Wooden Soda Crates

  • store crayons, pencils, pens and office or craft supplies (use cute cups inside to compartmentalize)
  • hold supplies/homework/important papers for kids
  • corral leashes, treats, and other small items for pets
  • set a crate atop a wooden stump for a fun outdoor side table
  • pack a couple of crates full of snacks and drinks for a casual outdoor gathering
    • Above, you can see how I have root beer bottles in one of my crates. I liked it with bandana fabric to keep the bottles from bumping around if I picked the box up. I think the fabric also adds a nice bit of texture and pop of color, too.
  • use a bigger crate to hold larger items like blankets and pillows in a family room or even inside a linen closet
  • Be sure to check out a couple of the ways I've used some of the crates I've made below.
DIY Wooden Soda Crate Tutorial
Here's one of the boxes used on my Iced Coffee Bar from last week. As I mentioned above, vintage crates and boxes are perfect for entertaining, decorating, storing (in a fun, attractive way) or whatever. The possibilities are endless. When entertaining in this matter, I think grouping items in boxes and such makes the serving space more visually appealing. 

How to Make a Ring Toss Game
I took one of our wooden soda crates and upcycled it a step further into the above DIY Ring Toss game. This is one of my favorite projects to date and gets used and loved regularly in our backyard.

How to Make Wooden Soda Crates

Spilled Paint
Back to the day my entire neighborhood heard me yell some choice words. Remember when I decided I needed a kelly green front door? On that fateful last coat of paint, my big patootie turned too fast to knock a 3/4 full gallon of paint off of the top of the step stool. Holy guacamole. What a ridiculous mess. This photo above is actually well into the clean up process. I'm pretty sure the entire inside of my shop vac is green (probably not the proper way to clean a paint spill...but, desperate times, y'all). 

I had a stack of wooden wine boxes that were splattered with the paint (as you can see on the right-hand side of the above photo). They were destined for the trash...

Wine Box Uses
I ended up setting them in the garage for a few months so I could figure out what in the heehaw to do with them. They were almost toast when we did a big garage clean out in March, but I hid them under the bed so nobody could trash them. I'm not really a hoarder. Maybe just on the road to becoming one...

I ended up using the paint-splattered boxes for these wooden soda crates. It sort of just came to me when I saw some cute vintage wooden crates at World Market...I realized I could duplicate and put my own spin on them.

Supplies for Wooden Soda Crates

  • wine boxes or plain wooden boxes
    • While I do have a plethora of wine boxes on hand (my brother is a wine distributor and collects them for me...his job has a laundry list of benefits...hiccup), you can easily purchase these or even get them for free at your local booze box...errr, liquor store. The ones in my city usually have stacks of them for sale. They go for anywhere from $3-$12 depending on their size. In a city we used to live in, one of the liquor stores gave them away for free. Sometimes, they'd stack them up by their dumpster. These are easy-peasy to come by and there are so many fabulous ways to repurpose them. They are almost always in good condition, too (well sanded and solid).
    • If you prefer, you could also use a plain wooden crate or box from the raw wood aisle in the craft store. Ikea has a great crate, too, that comes in natural wood ready for paint/stain.
  • joint compound or spackle
  • sandpaper (I used several grits, but mostly 60)
  • paint supplies (I actually use my Chippy Paint Technique for painting these)
  • vinyl or vinyl lettering 
  • wood stain

Making Soda Crates

Creating Your Wooden Soda Crates

  • Remove the top of your crate (I'm saving mine for sign-making).
  • The lettering on most wine boxes is actually branded into the wood, so it actually creates an indentation into the surface. It makes it hard to just slap some paint on it and go from there. 
    • Use your spackle or join compound to cover your wording. Spread it on the lettering and allow it to dry. Then sand it smooth (pictured above). I prefer to use an electric sander, but sanding by hand will be fine, too.

Milk Paint Crackle Finish
  • Again, please refer to my Chippy Paint Technique for painting these. The important thing to remember is to use chalk paint as your base will have more "sticking" power and won't get as easily sanded off as the layers on top of it will.
  • I did a good rough-up sanding before applying my letters. You can go as heavy or light as you prefer. The heavier the sanding, the more old and funky it will look. 
DIY Vintage Beverage Crates

  • Again, sand before putting lettering on. If you wait to just sand after the lettering is on, your lettering will be removed too much to be readable. We'll sand again, but get that initial sanding in before lettering. 
  • After that initial sanding, wipe your piece to remove the excess dust.
  • Apply your vinyl. I applied mine using the negative parts for easier painting (pictured above).
  • Paint you letters within your vinyl.

Beverage Crates
  • Remove your negative vinyl before your paint has completely dried. 
  • My vinyl actually pulled off a bit more paint...I kind of liked it! 

DIY Soda Crates
Then it's on to round two of sanding. This is better done by hand or with a sanding block. Doing it by hand will give you a bit more control of the amount of aging you do. And I'm a control fah-reak. I used a rough, 60 grit paper, but since I was doing it by hand, I didn't let it get too crazy. 

Aging with Stain

  • I use wood stain to go along the edges and really dirty a piece up. It's pretty much fool-proof. The stain will sit in the raw wood that you've sanded down and give it such great character. I did a more extensive video tutorial on Aging Wood with Stain, if that is helpful. 
  • You basically rub the stain on, and then let it sit a bit to saturate into the wood. 
    • Please note that weather and temperature can affect this process. If I'm doing this in the 100-degree summer heat, I have to work much quicker as the stain tends to "take" a lot faster.
  • Then rub off the excess stain or work it around the piece with a paper towel. 
    • It's really fun to play with the level of aging you can give to a piece. Also, I tend to reuse the same paper towel over and over until it's super soft and easy to work with (even if it is covered in stain). I think this helps to further that look of aging.
  • I concentrated on the raw edges a lot on these boxes. If you think about it, that's where soda crates were handled the most, and where natural aging would occur.
  • I opted to not seal these. I may go back and wax them, but something about letting an aged piece (even a faux one) keep on aging with natural wear and tear is really appealing to me. 

Painting Wooden Soda Crates
You can see in the above photo that the left box has not been stained and the right one has. Pretty fun effect, huh? And if you prefer that more natural look of the box on the left, you can skip the staining/aging process altogether. 

Troubleshooting Your Stain Application

  • If you get too carried away with the stain, a little neutral-colored furniture wax (while the stain is still fresh) can be used to pull some of the stain off of the piece. 
  • Just take a dab of it on a cloth and work it into the piece. 
  • It will pull stain off and make it a little less "dirty". 

Wooden Soda Crates

Looking for More DIY Projects?

Be sure to check out how we made our own Easy Window Box for our patio herb garden (also featured in the video above). It went together fast and has been a great project to utilize for a long time.

More Ideas for Wooden Crates

  • My other DIY Crate Tutorial isn't soda-specific, but would certainly be cute holding vintage glass bottles, too. It has handles that make it easy to move around, too. I used several to organize my pantry.
  • I also have a DIY Christmas Crate that, when turned around, doubles as an everyday crate, too. It's taller than a standard soda crate, but would still be cute used as one.
  • This lovely DIY Crate from Jenn at Clean and Scentsible is such a practical, larger crate. There are lots of storage possibilities with this one.
  • If you already have a few wooden soda crates, Becky, over at the blog, Infarrantly Creative, shares how to create a cute shelf with with a soda crate.
  • And Melissa, from Polka Dot Chair created a cute Lime-Themed Soda Crate from a nifty Ikea crate.
  • Randi, over at Dukes and Duchesses has great ideas on putting your crate to use (the dog bed idea is absolutely adorable).

How would you use a wooden crate like the ones I have shared? I always love hearing more ideas.


  1. These look awesome! Going to ask my liquor store now! Thanks for the great tutorial! Also thinking about using the tops for a sign for the chicken coop! :)

    1. That would be the perfect use for them! Hope all went well. xoxo

  2. This is soooo awesome, Kristi! I'm too cheap to buy the real vintage ones - and I love that you have just given me a way to make a bazillion of these things.

    1. Thanks so much, Jamie! And I'm with you...I'm too cheap, too! xoxo

  3. Stop it! You are just adding to my to-do list! Love them :)

  4. "Um, Ma'am? Are you sure you can be trusted with an open can of MinWax on top of wine crates you are sanding??"
    Haha Kristi this is such a fabulous project!! We had wine crates hung in a gallery style in the game room / bar our old house and I am always so mad we got rid of all but a few when we moved. Good to know we can get more! LOVE how these turned out! Again, you are just so talented, girl!! Pinned. (duh). :)

    1. RIGHT?!? Thankfully, it stayed put! Ha! Thank you so much, my friend.

  5. These crates are fabulous Kristi! Pinned!

  6. Kristi, these crates are amazing! I cannot wait to try this out! Thanks for all of your great tips, You are so talented. Pinned this for sure!

    1. Awww...thank you so much, Rita! I really appreciate that. xoxo

  7. I'm laughing at what Claire said :) I always lay out a big shower curtain & work over that when I have open containers of things that are messy. But I'm one that if it can spill- it will.

    I just adore these - they are totally my style. I have 2 wine crates that I have been debating if I was going to leave them, stain them or distress them. Now that I know how I can get more- I feel more liberated to make a decision with them & then just get more for more projects. Thanks Kristi.

    1. A shower curtain is genius, Gina!! And thank you so much for your kind words! xoxo

  8. Spilling paint is a big bummer, but GREEN paint must be a serious bummer! :)

    These are adorable! I love 'em! I hope my local liquor store has some crates... I'd love to make some too! Will you link at our party tonight at 6 pm PST? We would love it! Julia

    1. Thank you so much, Julia! Fingers crossed your liquor store comes through for you! xoxo

  9. Wow! I love these!
    Great job...pinning for sure!

  10. Love these Kristi! Sounds like I need to hit up Mike for some wine boxes. He works for a local beer/wine/liquor distributor too. And yes, lots and LOTS of perks. ;) We've been wanting to build a bar, and boxes like these would be perfect shelf inserts for bar tools. I just need to ad some dividers! Pinned!

    1. These would definitely be perfect as shelf inserts!! Hope it all goes well. Thank you so much, Julie. xoxo

  11. This looks fantastic! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams, starts on Fridays :D Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.

  12. haha, you made me snort coffee..not funny!! Seriously amazing salvage of your crates!!

    1. Awww...thank you so much, Cindy! I appreciate that! xoxo

  13. So cute! We would love for you to come and link up with us at Your Designs This Time!

  14. These look so good! I think this would be a fun way to spruce up a boring gift of beer for any holiday!

    1. Thanks so much! And you're so the crate would live on long after the beer was gone! xoxo

  15. How fun! Sounds like a good excuse to stop by the liquor store this week. I'm thinking I might make these for Christmas gifts with last names for the bottling company name. Thanks for sharing!

    1. That's such a fun idea, Krissy! Love it. Hope they turned out well for you. xoxo

  16. Hey I actually think I could pull this off! So adorable - and what a nice feature these would make on my front porch this summer!

    Carly @

  17. This idea and execution is awesome! couldn't believe it was an new to vintage transformation - I woulda bet money they were old to begin with! Love love!

    I would love for you to check out my site and a follower as I am of yours!
    Thanks for the creativity inspiration :-)
    - Natalie

    1. Thank you so much, Natalie! I really appreciate that.

  18. Hi Kristi.......I love this project. Your tutorial is great I can't wait to give it a try. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much, Bon Bon! I really appreciate that. xoxo

  19. These are super cute! I have done the same as you when I have seen these at the shops and thought I could do that myself, only difference is.....I have not done it yet! Love your though!