Introduction: Apple Crate Coffee Table

Picture of Apple Crate Coffee Table

An apple crate coffee table is a quick and easy, you can finish in a day or two tops, project that can add a lot of character to any room as well as being a good way to up-cycle unused crates. Don't worry though, you can buy crates at a lot of different stores if you don't have any laying around. It's also a very effective storage space, allowing you to fill almost the entire footprint twice, inside and on top.
This is a project my wife saw somewhere and wanted to do. To be honest she did most of the work while I really just helped out, putting it together for the most part, and documented.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

Picture of Materials & Tools
  • 4x Apple Boxes - If you can upcycle actual apple crates that's a plus but they are also available from most craft/fabric stores.
  • Wood Screws - The necessary size depends on the thickness of the wood in the crates and the actual construction of the crates.
  • Wood Filler
  • Primer - We went with a distressed sort of look so the primer color was important as it shows through.
  • Paint - A semi gloss or glossier paint is recommended as it aids in keeping the table clean.
  • Wood Blocks (Optional) - Depending on the furniture around where the table will be placed you may choose to attach feet to put the table top at a more usable height.
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill
  • Countersink Bit
  • Paint Brush (Optional) - Used to apply the paint in a non uniform manner for stylistic reasons. Also necessary if you aren't using spray paint.

Step 2: Prep

Picture of Prep

The first step is to decide on a layout for your table. There are a few ways you can arrange the crates, a couple of which I've drawn above.The layout you'll see in this guide is is the square with the open center. You could also easily make a bigger table with more than four crates.

Before you start building the table it's best to do some fit checks so the table is as level and square as possible. The crates won't be perfect but by taking some time to try various combinations of position and orientation you can minimize these errors and get a mostly flat and square table. Just keep trying the boxes in different positions until you find how they best fit together.

Step 3: Assemble

Picture of Assemble

With the crates configured and fitted, assembly is a simple matter of choosing your hole locations (3-4), punching them (not critical but it helps in tight areas), drilling pilot holes, and driving in the screws. You should try to drive the screw heads just below the surface. The best way to do this is to use a countersink bit on each hole after you've drilled the pilot. If you Don't have a countersink bit you can use the tip of a large drill bit with similar effect.

When you're done putting in all the screws use a wood filler to cover the screw heads and make the holes flush. As per the fillers instructions allow it to dry and then sand it before painting.

Step 4: Paint

Picture of Paint

When the filler is dried and prepped it's time to paint. My wife wanted a, for lack of a better word, distressed look, where the top layer of paint is sort of worn away exposing what's underneath (the primer, raw wood, another paint color, etc). From what I gather a typical method for doing this is to paint the top layer as usual and then wear it away through various methods, sandpaper, etc. Instead of that method she applied the primer as usual and then hand painted the top coat with a foam brush. This allowed her to get texture in some spots and control the thickness and coverage.

Step 5: Conclusion

Picture of Conclusion

There really isn't a lot to say. It looks good and is more functional than our previous table, as it has more 1st order retrievability storage space. There is a lot of ways you can customize this project, from the layout to decorating it, so don't let the way we chose to do it shoehorn you onto a single path. Look at your space and be creative. As always feel free to ask any questions and post pictures if you tackle this project!


Justhike (author)2015-03-07

I added some wheels and plywood.

bwrussell (author)Justhike2015-03-07

That looks great, love the finish. That bottle lamp is pretty cool too.

driskelljbm (author)2014-06-23

I made this. Turned out pretty good.

bwrussell (author)driskelljbm2014-06-23

Looks good, thanks for sharing!

lgraciano1 (author)2016-06-30

I would love to have the sizes of the boxes, I´m from Brazil so we don´t have the same crates!! I´m planning to built one for my mother!! If you could send me measurement of the crates I would make a happy mom!!!

bwrussell (author)lgraciano12016-06-30

I sold the table when we moved but the link below is to the exact crates I used and it shows the dimensions and other info on them. Really though as long as all four are the same they can be whatever size fits your needs and room best!

lgraciano1 (author)bwrussell2016-06-30

Thanks a lot!! I'll post some pictures

bwrussell (author)lgraciano12016-06-30

Also, if/when you make one be sure to post a comment with a picture!

SBBLESS (author)2015-10-02

Thanks for sharing, I really like this coffee table. My problem is where can I get the apple crates around Joburg?

patsheldon (author)2014-02-24

I like the simplistic look but it still does its job. I also liked how you can cut the labor down by not sanding but using a foam brush. ;)

bwrussell (author)patsheldon2014-02-24

Thank you, as an engineer function is paramount but it's always nice when looks good too.

docmurray (author)2014-02-18

gonna give this a shot before I head to Texas, give it to my parents.

bwrussell (author)docmurray2014-02-19

Awesome! Make sure to post a couple of pictures of the final product.

valkgurl (author)2014-01-30

I saw these crates---or very similar---at WalMart this weekend (1-24-14) for about $8 and change (USD) Didn't get to check the "quality" but at that price you could re-do your whole house storage wise with these.

IF you add castors tho re-inforce with real wood blocks. And plexiglass on the top would be nice---sold at Lowes and can be cut with fine edged jig saw or similar IF you TAPE the area to be cut. Might be in 'ible on that here somewheres if not on Pinterest. OR Lowes can cut it for you for a small fee.

bwrussell (author)valkgurl2014-01-30

That's a good price and I'm guessing the quality matches that of the ones at most craft stores.

Yep, I learned that the hard way on one of my other Instructables.

Preval (author)2014-01-28

This is great! We've added it to our collection, "spray paint." Cheers :)

pmeador (author)2014-01-20

I just made one of these and stained it with steel wool in vinegar (gorgeous dark aged wood look) and sealed with beeswax and olive oil (no fumes and looks great!). I put mine on a base with casters as mine!

bwrussell (author)pmeador2014-01-20

That's great! You should definietely post a pic or two, I'd love to see how it turned out.

teethlikelions (author)2014-01-20

I would also suggest possible considering a spill barrier under the top. a spilled drink will quickly ruin a compartment full of books/games/controllers.

bwrussell (author)teethlikelions2014-01-20

That is something to consider, haven't had that issue personally yet. Wood sheets on the underside of each compartment or across the entire top would work but kind of ruin the aesthetic. The best solution would be a sheet of glass except the cost could be prohibitive.

teethlikelions (author)2014-01-20

My wife made this last year and let me just say that you should NOT expect to put your feet up on it. Apple crates (especially from the craft store) are not strong toward the center of the slats.

bwrussell (author)teethlikelions2014-01-20

It's true that single slats are not particularly sturdy but at the ends or if the weight is distributed across even two slats then you shouldn't have any problems.

countrysister Deb (author)2014-01-19

TOO COOL. Can wait to try it. Perfect for my farm house den

Thanks. Make sure to post some pics here when you've completed yours.

alexisanayamurphy (author)2014-01-15

This looks so great and it seems functional! Do you keep anything in it like books or maybe dvds?

Absolutely. We've got a compartment full of card games, one with baby things, my wife keeps her knitting stuff in another, and the last one has books and just random stuff. We also keep the dog's toys in the the hole in the center.

babybayrs (author)2014-01-14

looks beautiful!

bwrussell (author)babybayrs2014-01-14

Thank you!

westonfrontss (author)2014-01-14

Good job ?

bwrussell (author)westonfrontss2014-01-14

Thank you?

butler412 (author)2014-01-14


dmott1 (author)2014-01-14

Why didn't I think of this?? Great idea!!!

bwrussell (author)dmott12014-01-14

Thanks, I can't take credit for the idea, that goes to my wife.

tonid4z (author)2014-01-14

Thanks for the awesome idea!... You could also put some wheels on it for added height & mobility, if you wanted to.. 8 )

bwrussell (author)tonid4z2014-01-14

Great idea, particularly if you have hard floors.

batonas (author)2014-01-14

The pictures alone tells it all, no special skills required, stunning result, the kind of instructable I like, respect.

bwrussell (author)batonas2014-01-14

I'm glad you liked it.

HollyMann (author)2014-01-14

This looks really nice - great job!

bwrussell (author)HollyMann2014-01-14


About This Instructable




Bio: Why buy when you can DIY? Educated a Mechanical Engineer and trained as a classical cellist I consider myself a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, dabbling ... More »
More by bwrussell:Industrial-Style Pipe Wall ShelvesReplacement PC Case Power SwitchLaser Engraved QR & NFC WiFi Access Card
Add instructable to: