Introduction: How to Make an $11 Crate With a $3 2x4

Picture of How to Make an $11 Crate With a $3 2x4

I was passing through a home improvement store the other day and saw a simple wooden crate that was being sold for $11. I decided I could make one from a $3 2x4 and show you how.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

What you'll need:

  • Safety gear
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • a 96" 2x4
  • Table Saw
  • 3/4" staples (narrow)
  • Hammer or staple gun (staple gun recommended)

You can build one crate from one 2x4 but the pictures you see in this Instructable show me making two crates from two 2x4's.

Step 2: Take Off Those Rounded Corners

Picture of Take Off Those Rounded Corners

Set your table saw at 3/16" and lob off the rounded all 4 rounded corners of your 2x4's

You will end up with 3" x 1.5" stock

You can do this in 2 cuts.

Step 3: Cut Thirteen (13) 3/8" X 1-1/2" X 18" Slats

Picture of Cut Thirteen (13) 3/8" X 1-1/2" X 18" Slats

At this stage you'll want to exercise some material management because you are using most of the 2x4 and wasteful cutting can leave you short at the end.

Because you'll need a 3" wide piece later, resist the urge to rip a few 3/8" strips off of the entire board

I started by cutting 36" off of my 2x4 and making 12 slats from that piece and then cutting the remaining slat from the remaining material after I made my 3" piecess

Step 4: Cut Four (4) 3/4" X 3" X 9-1/2" End Pieces

Picture of Cut Four (4)  3/4" X 3" X 9-1/2" End Pieces

To do this you'll need to set your table saw blade as high as it will go (if your using a 10" blade)

Rip two 3/4" lengths off your stock and then cross cut them to meat the 9.5" dimension

Step 5: Cut a 1/2" Rabbet

Picture of Cut a 1/2" Rabbet

To cut a 1/2 x 1/2 'rabbet' out off your 3/4" pieces set the fence 1/2" away from the blade and the blade 1/2" out of the table. Its better to error on the side of less (15/32") and trim out the remaining piece with a utility knife later

Step 6: Cut Six (6) 1/2" X 2-3/8" X 7" Cross Members

Picture of Cut Six (6)  1/2" X 2-3/8" X 7" Cross Members

Here the 1/2" dimension will sit inside the 1/2" rabbit you just cut.

The 7" dimension makes your crate a nice even dimension and the

The 2-3/8" dimension is not critical - it may be a little more or less.

Step 7: Inventory Your Parts

Picture of Inventory Your Parts

Qty 13 = 3/8 x 1-1/2 x 18"

Qty 4 = 3/4" x 3" x 9-1/2" (with 1/2" x 1/2" rabbit)

Qty 6 = 1/2" x 2-3/8" x 7"

Step 8: Make Sure Your Staples Are 3/4"

Picture of Make Sure Your Staples Are 3/4"

Step 9: Staple Pieces From Step 4 and Step 6 Together

Picture of Staple Pieces From Step 4 and Step 6 Together

The top cross member will be functioning as a handle for your crate.

This joint should probably be glued and stapled but mine have held up pretty well by just remembering to staple them from both sides. (Two from the outside in and two from the inside out... at each end

The other cross members can be stapled from one side only.

Step 10: Critical Step - Make Sure Your Handles Are Both 'up'

Picture of Critical Step - Make Sure Your Handles Are Both 'up'

Make sure your handles are both at the top then attach side slats

I'm speaking from experience here.

Step 11: Critical Step, Make Sure You Know Which Way Is Up

Picture of Critical Step, Make Sure You Know Which Way Is Up

Make sure you know which way is up before stapling the bottom slats to the crate.

I'm speaking from experience here also.

Step 12: ...and the Finished Product

Picture of ...and the Finished Product

In complete fairness this $3 crate took about 45 minutes using a $300 table saw and $90 staple gun which was getting fed air by a $350 compressor. You would have to make nearly 100 of these crates to make your money back - don't do it for the money do it for the joy of making things :)


marcwave (author)2015-08-20

Coool...I included an image to see how it would look with the "handle" panels reversed. and *** Qty 14 ... = 3/8 x 1-1/2 x 18"
Thanks !! (my suggestion on the right!!)

KurtH3 (author)marcwave2015-08-20

I like it!

KimberlyM121 (author)2017-08-28

Hi! I’m an editor for and am writing to request permission to use a photo from this post.

We hope to feature it in an upcoming round up of ours about building with 2x4’s and structural lumber. We would include a backlink to this tutorial and clear credit to you via your handle or name.

Additionally, we routinely publish round-up style posts on our site and if you’re willing to allow us to use one photo from other posts you’ve done, we would love to add you to our directory of sites to feature. As a bonus, your site would then be on our radar for possible Facebook shares as well.

Please let me know if this is satisfactory. Thanks for your consideration!

Kimberly Mueller

woodsmen1 (author)2015-08-20

I build crates for a living here in the finger lakes of ny . I build full bushel crates for $1.10 each. retail for $9 each ,before farm discounts . I build 30 to 32 per hour with a air stapler , no jig used . my lumber is all reclaimed from down and storm damaged trees, sawn locally on a band sawmill .

you do have a good design . time consuming .

MisterHighway (author)woodsmen12017-01-02

Howdy! Could you post some pictures and dimensions of your design? It sounds like you have a very solid method that myself and others would dig seeing! I'm going to use the OP's post, another design, and my own input to make a project that I hope to post this evening!

KurtH3 (author)woodsmen12015-08-21

One every 2 minutes is really impressive. Can your air compressor keep up - haha

woodsmen1 (author)KurtH32015-08-22

I have a 100 gallon I.R. tank air compressor that I use . not a problem

RustyL (author)woodsmen12015-08-20

I'm with ladykeetes. If you have a quicker way, please make an instructable.

ladykeetes (author)woodsmen12015-08-20

Could you do an instructable with your design?

ChrisD338 made it! (author)2016-08-09

I modified it slightly to store vinyl records nicely. Just added 1 inch to height/width of the sides>

Qty 13 = 3/8 x 1-1/2 x 18"

Qty 4 = 3/4" x 3" x 10-1/2" (with 1/2" x 1/2" rabbit)

Qty 6 = 1/2" x 2-3/8" x 8"

miki.sragner (author)2015-09-25

The last sentence is hiding deep philosophical truth.

BlackSheep0ne (author)2015-08-30

No criticism; one question -- would screws serve instead of staples?

christopher.leblanc.98 (author)2015-08-24

never count your tools in the price lol,but fasteners are material and so is the wood,so $3.25 would be a closer cost, then the difference is your wage to make up the sale price,if you were making 100 lot, than , the labor would go down in volume manufacturing so it would be safe to say that one takes 45min but 5 could be made in a hour so your $6.75 profit for the one box would be closer to $33.75 / hour and even giving a commission to the sales store ,of say $2.00 /unit , you would still clear $23.75 profit way better than most day jobs, ,,,, your video is well made , and so is your box, even the timely rabbit joint that most production guys would eliminate for the extra time profit they would achieve , tks

rschulz1 (author)2015-08-24

Very Nice, I just love these 2x4 projects. When i first seen this, I was thinking "Planer" and "Bandsaw" and "Pocket Skrews", But then ALL on the Table saw.

I might have cut those 3 inch wide pieces in 2 passes, just saying. Keep up the

great work!

RustyL (author)2015-08-20

Wow, it looks like more than 45 minutes work to me, but it turned out beautiful.

KurtH3 (author)RustyL2015-08-21

I built 2 crates the first one took hours + hours of planning leading up to the project.

The second crate was closer to the time I'm claiming.

patricklogsdon (author)2015-08-21

Great ...ible! Thank you for the reality check at the end.

dusan61 (author)2015-08-21

I would have worked just do not know to whom they can sell

Lance Reichert (author)2015-08-21

Very nice 'Ible. Super clean design. Clearly explained & illustrated. Photos
illustrate steps well. Right now I'm trying to find a need to justify making to make
such a crate.

Constructive criticism (pun intended): considering
the thin margins for cutting errors, it would have helped if the cutting list
came before the first cutting step. Then we could do the cross-cuts first.

Thx, Lance ==)---------------

nice design.

Pa1963 (author)2015-08-20

A bandsaw might get you a couple more slats.

PKM (author)2015-08-20

At 45 minutes to build, you're getting paid $10.67 an hour to build these- even if the tools were free it's not great money. If you made them carelessly so they looked "handmade" and sold them for $40 at an "artisan" store, however... :)

amo.umbarkar (author)2015-08-20

good stuff..thanks for sharing

MH4Designs (author)2015-08-18

lot of labor love there ......

bgipson1 (author)2015-08-18

Ok call me cheap but a recycled pallet would be 3 dollars Cheaper

FbO Vorcha (author)2015-08-18

I like the last comment you made, because the first thing I thought was 'Oh sure, but how much in equipment and time is it going to take?', and there's my answer. You are right, it's about the making and not the having.

OptimistSpencer (author)2015-08-18

awesome build! just so you know, a groove on the end is spelled rabbet tho :) Plus, you probably could make money when you already have the tools!

TomV4 (author)2015-08-18

"[D]on't do it for the money, do it for the joy of making things."

This is why I love Instructables. They justify my financial ineptitude.

RemovalsFinchley (author)2015-08-18

Awesome instructions! We're totally trying this!

freddamnrock (author)2015-08-17

Gosh-darnit. I was just researching crates last night. Good instructions.

NathanSellers (author)2015-08-17

Awesome build and write up. Thanks for sharing.

About This Instructable




More by KurtH3:How to Make an Enchanted Pumpkin CarriageHow to Make a PVC TelescopeHow to Make a PVC Periscope
Add instructable to: