Introduction: Milk Crate Chair for Camping or Vinyl Storage Upgrade

Picture of Milk Crate Chair for Camping or Vinyl Storage Upgrade

Milk Crates are great form of modular storage! I came up with an easy upgrade that lets you use them as a chair to maximize small spaces. Perfect for camping, vinyl, dorms, and tiny houses!


  1. Milk Crate: If you place on using this for storing vinyl I've found that 13.75'' on all sides work perfect for vinyl. If you are just using it for general storage the size doesn't matter as much.
  2. Paracord: This is what will tie it all together and act as the hinge and supports. It is important to use paracord as it doesn't stretch so your knots will remain tight.
  3. A small section of 3/4'' plywood.
  4. Sand Paper
  5. Wood Stain
  6. Fabric for storage bag (Optional)


  1. Drill with a drill bit approximately 1/4''
  2. Scissors
  3. Sander
  4. Paint brush
  5. Staple gun (Optional)

Step 1: Seat and Back Rest

Picture of Seat and Back Rest

Depending on the dimensions of the crate your measurements will vary but I'd recommend adding a 1/8'' or so extra to accommodate for the seat slightly shifting.

  1. If using a 13.75'' crate then cut two pieces of 3/8 plywood to 14''.
  2. Sand the edges down till they are round. You can use a power sander although a router would be quicker.
  3. Stain if desired.

Step 2: Creating the Hinges

Picture of Creating the Hinges

The hinges are simple and quick to make.

  1. Line up the seat and backrest with the crate.
  2. Drill four holes into the plastic crate and another four that correspond with both pieces of the wood.
  3. Take the paracord and tie loops through the holes.
  4. If the hinge is sloppy then tighten the knots by redoing them or tying two of the loops together with a knot that runs perpendicular to the hinge.

Step 3: Chair Supports

Picture of Chair Supports

The chair backrest is held upright with paracord supports. They are strong enough I can lean back and gently rock the chair. I weigh 160ish lbs so it's reasonably strong

  1. First drill two holes near what will be the top of the chair.
  2. Tie paracord through both of the holes that were just drilled.
  3. Tie a carabiner to one end of the support
  4. Make a loop on the end of the other support. It is important to adjust the loop so it holds the back at a good angle. At first I set it leaning a little towards the front of the chair, after a few uses the knots tighten it will sit at an appropriate angle.

Step 4: Interior Bag

Picture of Interior Bag

It's simple to add a bag to the bottom of the seat.

  1. Cut your fabric to fit in the square of the chair.
  2. Once lined up staple it in place.
  3. Add a loop of fabric to make opening the bag and the chair easier.


bhardy6 (author)2014-10-02

This is absolute genius!! When I was a camp counselor, we used to make something similar with 5-Gallon buckets but NO back support. I would like to see upholstered seats (getting old, need cushion!) and maybe back, but I'm sure my wife can figure it out. I LUV this better than round, buckets though because they stack and fit better!! Two thumbs up!!!!

MattTheMaker (author)bhardy62014-10-06

I've never seen a 5 gallon bucket one but thats awesome you used to make them with the kids. I was an Eagle Scout and getting all this feedback makes me want to teach this to my old troop!

Terri1ND (author)2015-08-19

This is a nice idea. I think I will adapt it as a step up for helping me get into our Surburban, which we need living in the rural north & snow gets too deep at times for regular cars.

hilldomain (author)2015-04-08

Im not sure I need the crate part. I just want a simple seat ,light with a back rest. mostly for the beach and other events where chairs are not provided here in Japan. This will work.

JM1999 (author)2014-10-11

So cool!

Nice job on the win, I hope you enjoy the prize/s!

MattTheMaker (author)JM19992014-10-19

Thank you! I've been a member who has just trolled for several years and finally got around to posting. I wish I had earlier because the feedback from the community is inspiring!

JM1999 (author)MattTheMaker2014-10-19


I have just been a finalist in the apple contest and that is inspiring, it is the first online contest I have ever won!!

MattTheMaker (author)JM19992014-10-19

Thats very clever making a lantern out of an apple! I wonder if using some pectin or lemon juice could make them last a little longer before turning brown. Very cool!

JM1999 (author)MattTheMaker2014-10-20

My apple turned brown fairly quickly.

Put it this way though; you are going to be using it only at night so there is no need to worry about the colour.

If you were displaying it for a little while before dark you could put lemon juice on it, it would smell different when you lit it too.

Chuck Stephens (author)2014-10-14

As a DJ who usually had more crates than chairs back in my bachelor days I can totally appreciate this! I love simple, state-of-the-shelf solutions. Keep it up!

Ooooh I could totally see it working well for DJ's. The term "state-of-the-shelf solutions" is brilliant, I haven't heard that one before. Thanks for the feedback, definitely will be posting more soon!

MaggieCr (author)2014-10-17

This is very cool! I use milk crates for all kinds of stuff, but never thought of making a chair.

Mysterious_Gal (author)2014-10-13

This is cool.

1LadyJ1 (author)2014-10-10

Really neat idea, One we will try.

Catley (author)2014-10-05

I love this. Must get my husband to make me one, so I can sit on it while weeding because my knees can't take the kneeling. Thanks loads. But where do people buy milk crates?

markz (author)Catley2014-10-05

I know TSC (Tractor Supply Company) carries real milk crates in black.

Catley (author)markz2014-10-06

Thank you, too, Markz. I don't know if there is a TSC near me, but if I should want black crates and can't find them elsewhere, I'll go looking online for a TSC.

LobosSolos (author)Catley2014-10-05

Wal*Mart even has them over in the stationary section. They're useful for file/book storage.

MattTheMaker (author)LobosSolos2014-10-06

I'd be careful with some crates you buy at big box stores. I have one from Target that is made of much thinner plastic then the one I used for the project. I'm not sure where I got mine, if you keep an eye out one will show up in no time.

srohwer (author)Catley2014-10-05

I've seen them at The Container Store for $10, 12" sq. x 10-3/8" h.

Catley (author)srohwer2014-10-06

Thanks Srohwer. It's a bit hard for me to get to, but I do know of a Container Store. It's a dangerous place, though, because I know I would see so many other great containers that I would want to buy, lol!

tyler roberts (author)Catley2014-10-05

if you know the cooks at a school, you might ask them, I'm sure they'll have a couple spares in back, if not they'll know who to ask.

Catley (author)tyler roberts2014-10-06

Thanks a lot, Lobos and Tyler. Looks like I can get them from the local WalMart, then. Not having children, I don't know anyone at a school, unfortunately.

Jobar007 (author)2014-10-03

A lot of people who fish use a milk crate to keep their tackle organized. This is perfect to do exactly that plus provide a chair while on the pier, boat, or shore! This is awesome!

Have you tried using thinner plywood to see if it makes a difference in rigidity?

MattTheMaker (author)Jobar0072014-10-06

The thinnest plywood I've used is 3/8. I feel thinner than that would be a little to thin and most likely snap.

I like your idea of using it for fishing! I keep finding out a million more uses for it from all the feedback!

seamster (author)2014-10-02

Nice and simple. Great idea!

MattTheMaker (author)seamster2014-10-06

Thanks for the feedback. I was working on this project and came up with so many more complicated variations before finding this simple solution. Once I figured it out it seemed like it had been staring me in the face the whole time.

typogenerator (author)2014-10-05

Wow. Fantastic!

Thanks I'm glad you like it :)

pandadude (author)2014-10-03

Extremely dope. I am a big fan of milk crates and know that placed upside down they can support a 400lb chef but I really appreciate this alternative application

MattTheMaker (author)pandadude2014-10-06

Thanks buddy! I never knew they were that strong when flipped upside down.

thundrepance (author)pandadude2014-10-05

hahahahahahhaha! specifically a chef, right? :D

it IS a great chair, though, ain't it?

lifeinbeats (author)2014-10-06

This is so great. I could see this being perfect for a bike rack crate too. Just need to figure out a way to easily detach the crate from the rack and you've got an impromptu seat wherever you go. With a little modification, it could also double as locking storage (with a padlock) for whatever is in the crate! Nice 'ible!

MattTheMaker (author)lifeinbeats2014-10-06

I love the idea of putting it on a bike! I've taken it to the park to set up slack line equipment but that was with a car. I've only attached crates to bikes with bungee cords before. The downside is it has to be wrapped so many times it's not quick to release. Thanks for the input, I've definitely got some new ideas brewing now.

mjkurtz (author)2014-10-06

I find this as a project that preschool children can build with supervision. They need an example and precut plywood parts.

Note on plywood thickness: You probably could use thinner plywood but I would use a pair of 1x2 stiffeners on the outside of the top plywood and on the bottom of the bottom plywood shortened to fit inside the crate. I would cut the stiffeners on a 45 degree angle to remove the sharp edges. (Long side of stiffener to the plywood)

Great project!!

MattTheMaker (author)mjkurtz2014-10-06

Thats a great idea. Making kits and teaching children how to make these would be fun. If they start out making things when they are young they will be more self sufficient and know how things work.

thebeatonpath (author)2014-10-05


broccali (author)2014-10-03


pi526 (author)2014-10-03

Wow - great idea!

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