Introduction: Pallet Crates & Inkjet Image Transfer to Wood

Picture of Pallet Crates & Inkjet Image Transfer to Wood

I can never pass by an antique wooden crate without stopping. Crates are so useful, they make instant storage that is also stylish!

These crates are inspired by the character of pallet wood, farm and orchard crates, old stamps, and weathered typography. They are made from discarded pallets, and personalized with a easy image transfer method using only wax paper and inkjet printer.

At the end you will also see some fabulous diy failures so you can get a more consistent result with this technique.

I also have a detailed step by step plus video tutorial and all the stamps and images I used on these crates as a free download here -download the decorative elements for these vintage inspire crates.

Step 1: Make Crates

Picture of Make Crates

Now we can size and cut the pieces – see diagram above. Depending on the size of the crate you want, you will need 2 or 3 boards for the bottom(orange). Mark them to the length you want, and also mark 2 side pieces(yellow) at the same length. Finally, use these pieces to determine the end pieces(blue). Sand each piece with either a sanding pad, or a electric sander. We also used a Multitool to trim and sand smaller irregular edges.

After all the pieces are cut and sanded, nail or glue the 4 side together first, then nail or glue the bottom to the sides. You can also use pocket hole screws to attach the pieces. We chose nails because of the rustic look we want. If you do use nails, a little pre-drilling helps to prevent cracks. Now we are ready to add our personal designs to the crates with image transfer!

Step 2: Finishing Wax

Picture of Finishing Wax

After the image transfer dries for a couple of hours, the final step is to protect our crates with a nice furniture wax. After some geeky research I used the recipe from Amber Dusick. She makes this luscious wax for her wooden toys. It’s 1 part bees wax, 4 parts jojoba or olive oil (I used olive oil). Place the shaved bees wax and olive oil in a bowl, and slowly heat over a double boiler till the wax is melted. Stir and transfer into a jar.

This wax is non toxic, and so nice to work with. It’s actually a great hand lotion - so no gloves here!

You can see from the photos that the color of the wood and images become richer and deeper once you apply the wax. Let sit for 24 hours, and you are ready to use them or give them as gifts!


SergeE (author)2015-11-15

I heard one can use the backing paper of inkjet printable label sheets. it is waxed on the side the labels were stuck ... Remove all of the left over label material and you have 8.5x11 wax paper which should run through your inkjet printer. Print on shiny side. So the story goes since I have not tried.

kiwimac (author)2015-11-15

Does it matter which side of the wax paper you use? One side is shinier than the other.

Mdaileystudios (author)2015-11-15

do you have a favorite inkjet printer to recommend?

marhar (author)2015-11-15

I can't believe how beautiful these turned out! Thanks for the detailed instructions on the wax paper transfer and for the Image Fairy links. Well done!

dollarseed (author)2015-11-15

Thank you for sharing your method to transfer. I have been seeing many different methods, but yours makes the most sense.

mskogly (author)2015-10-11

Where do you get the wax paper? Ebay link?

beachymermaid (author)2015-09-23

Wow what a great idea and tutorial :-D. I love the Graphic Fairy!

Thanks for sharing!♡


daveda made it! (author)2015-06-11

This is a Dog Toy crate I made from your Instructable.

I had a problem with the waxed paper not wanting to feed through my printer. I tried every thing I could think of to get it to feed. Including cutting the wax paper shorter than the backing paper and taping it about an inch from the edge so the regular paper would start to feed first and then hopefully pull the waxed paper through with it. But nothing worked, as soon as the waxed paper touched the feed rollers it would slip on the carrier paper and just bunch up. I finally decided that my printer only powers the rollers on the print side of the paper. I finally solved the problem by using Freezer paper. It has one side that is plastic coated and the ink just sits on top of it like it would on the waxed paper. I just cut some sheets to the 8 1/2 by 11 size and they will feed through the printer with out any trouble. You may have to pull the sheets over the edge of a table to take some of the curl out before trying to print on it. The prints then are treated the same way as on the waxed paper.

As far as the Olive oil being a problem by turning rancid, it will not. All plant oils will oxidize when left in contact with the air. This is why you never leave a bunch of oily cloth in a pile. As the oil oxidizes it gives of heat and can spontaneously catch fire. When the surface is spread out you will not notice the heat that is given of. When the oil oxidizes it forms a plastic material. Cooks have been using olive oil for a long time to put on wood surfaces, like cutting boards and spoons.

Thanks again for this great Instructabl.

blissful2015 (author)daveda2015-06-22

thank you Dave !!! Looks awesome, thanks for sharing your tips!! :)

cflores ruiz (author)2015-06-15


bruce.mori.5 (author)2015-06-02

most tutorials leave out the...oh yea, wax paper jams...why didn't that dawn on me prior to fighting with my printer. I've read that parchment paper works well too.

daveda (author)bruce.mori.52015-06-13

Use freezer paper, print on the plastic coated side. It feeds well in my printer.

miked2001 (author)bruce.mori.52015-06-13

I was thinking about that too. Certainly would feed better in the printer.

behind the scene failures need to be shared haha! =)

bluemoon6 (author)2015-06-13

Thank you for a fun project...

bgunville (author)2015-06-11

Nice project and I am going to have to try your method on some photos I want of the grand kids on wood

Giulia Art (author)2015-06-09

Congrats on making finalist! How was your sleep until now?Are you waiting for the big announcement? What prize would you like to receive? :D

rickl8327 (author)2015-06-08

This has to be one of the coolest instructables I've seen. Good job...

bettina-sisr (author)2015-06-07

This is WONDERFUL! But knowing nothing about printers, is an inkjet different from a laser printer? The inkjet printers are just regular printers right? I got so discouraged 8 (or so) years ago when I wanted to transfer to fabric, because everything had to be done on $500 laser printers?? LOVE this, got my 'bedroom' vote!!

You can usually tell what type of printer you have by the prints it puts out. An inkjet uses watery ink, so it will naturally soak into plain printer paper. A large block of ink such as a picture or large bold text will leave the paper damp, and the image quality usually isnt that good. Laser printers are usually much crisper since the toner is literally melted to the surface of the paper. Generally laser prints are more even, crisp, and vivid than inkjet.

You can also tell by the ink/toner cartridges. Inkjets are usually small blocks with liquid ink that are set side by side in the printer. Laser toner packs are usually large and wide and must be set in a tray.

thanks Bettina ! :)

Johnkaye (author)bettina-sisr2015-06-07

Hi, do not try this in a laser printer it will ruin the printer. Inkjet ink is a liquid that gets sprayed onto the waxed paper by the printer. Laser printers use a powered toner that is fused (melted) to the paper with heat. If you try this with a laser printer the fuser will melt the wax off the waxed paper and probably ruin the fusing unit.

A great Instructible, I have not seen this transfer method before.

blissful2015 (author)Johnkaye2015-06-07

thank you Both! John you answered it better than I could! :)

bettina-sisr (author)Johnkaye2015-06-07


pfred2 (author)2015-06-02

Won't olive oil get rancid?

blissful2015 (author)pfred22015-06-02

it's been over a year since i started using this recipe, and has not been a problem at all for me, maybe the beeswax preserves it?

pfred2 (author)blissful20152015-06-02

Maybe. Because olive oil going rancid using it as a wood finish is a well known issue.

bettina-sisr (author)pfred22015-06-07

My kids were in a school 20+ years ago where we made some furniture, then used the olive oil beeswax to polish and protect. It has been 20 years and no problems? My grandmother said that's all they used to use as well. But the mix has to be cooked, then cooled until it is hard (like a bar of soap). Maybe different climates, or different olive oil? Or some people don't make it correctly. No one else I know has had any problem either (from the class)

blissful2015 (author)pfred22015-06-03

i got the recipe from a wooden toy maker, and the finish smells like honey, so bees wax must be the magic =) also i have seen a lot of recipes using olive oil and lemon juice as great furniture polish too =)

Mark Montano (author)2015-06-05

This is just fantastic!

thanks mark! always great to see you here and on gawker! =)

shazni (author)2015-06-05

Congrats on making finalist!

blissful2015 (author)shazni2015-06-05

congrats to you too shazni! xo

Tater Zoid (author)2015-06-03

Hi, this Instructable should be entered into the pallet contest. I shouldn't suggest this because it's better than my entry, but it deserves to be noticed.

blissful2015 (author)Tater Zoid2015-06-03

haha, tater you are so kind! i already entered 3, that's more than enough for this time =)

Tater Zoid (author)blissful20152015-06-03

Well, less competition for my entry. Haha.

daveda (author)2015-06-02

I have got to try this. They look great. I think I will add hand hold holes to the ends to make them easier to pick up.

blissful2015 (author)daveda2015-06-03

thanks dave and have fun!

mkramer4 (author)2015-06-01

I am a pallet recycler, this is on my list, thank you so much.

blissful2015 (author)mkramer42015-06-02

thank you and have fun!!

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)2015-06-02

Awesome idea. And much more affordable than real antique wooden crates.

plus we can make them to size! =)

egray9 (author)2015-06-02

Really neat and very creative - I love the finished look of these!

blissful2015 (author)egray92015-06-02

thanks a lot! =)

livichris (author)2015-06-01

these are beautiful, really vintage looking. thanks for posting

blissful2015 (author)livichris2015-06-02

thank you! =)

About This Instructable




Bio: Instructables got me started on an incredible DIY journey, which turned into a blog, which replaced my day job in 2 years. Anything is possible ... More »
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