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.

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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"

Step 9: 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'

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

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

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 :)

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31 Discussions


4 years ago on Introduction

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!!)

1 reply

I'm sure the best instruction is on stodoys website.


2 years ago

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


4 years ago on Introduction

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 .

5 replies

Reply 2 years ago

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!


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

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


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

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


Reply 4 years ago

Could you do an instructable with your design?


3 years ago on Step 12

The last sentence is hiding deep philosophical truth.


4 years ago on Step 7

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

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


4 years ago on Introduction

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!


4 years ago on Introduction

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

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

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.


4 years ago on Step 12

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


4 years ago on Step 12

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

Lance Reichert

4 years ago on Step 7

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 ==)---------------