The Milk Crate Bookshelf





Introduction: The Milk Crate Bookshelf

An affordable way to store, move, and display your favorite books.

Step 1: Step 1: Acquire Milk Crates

Locate your favorite grocery store and find some discarded milk crates.  These will usually be hidden near the rest of the waste, in the back of the dairy section, or tucked away into crevices throughout the store.

Step 2: Stack or Configure Milk Crates

Place milk crates side by side, or stacked on top of one another.  Zip-tie milk crates for extra security.  Adorn the top of your new bookshelf by placing decorative objects or artifacts such as cactus statues or candles.

Step 3: Place Books on Your New Bookshelf

Make sure to choose the books that will impress your friends.  Pictured below is a bookshelf hoping to give the impression of an "intellectual."

Step 4: Disassemble Shelves

Bookshelves can be disassembled and books can be moved to a new location.  The books can remain inside the milk crate, this makes them very easy to transport.



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    12 Discussions

    I have one of these next to my "just throw stuff on the floor" desk

    This isn't just limited to bookshelves. I've made shelves, entertainment centers, bed frames, even a couch (with the help of some big polyfoam blocks). Also, it's getting easier to obtain these legally; I've had a couple of delivery guys tell me that it's actually cheaper to buy new ones then to wash and reuse the old ones.

    I found crates that were marked "Property of XxYyZy Dairy" - but the dairy had gone out of business,.. so they were free, I just had to ask. You can contact a local milk/dairy Co-op they are usually willing to re-purpose the crates rather than pay the money to send them out to be recycled.

    Seriously, who cares about stolen milk crates? I got a bunch of them, and the Dairy's can get them back when they pry them from my cold, dead hands. This is a cool project. I made a similar one, and then screwed an old 1" piece of oak to the top as a platform for keys and such.

    Like everyone is saying, those crates that you find at the store are waiting to go back to the dairy... they are not free for the taking.

    Also, they are designed to hold weight when they are in the upright position. if you start loading them up while they are on their sides, they will start to bow downward, and eventually, you books will fall out the front.

    Best thing to do is place a board between each layer of crates.

    Please don't take "discarded" milk crates:

    I have a setup like this right now. I used to live upstairs, and this was the only shelving option that would fit up a small spiral staircase. So handy when I moved, I kept them.

    And for what it's worth, I found crates a a thrift store for a couple bucks each. There are legal options out there.

    Just a disclaimer: I personally didn't steal/abscond with any of the milk crates.... I have certainly acquired them over the years through moving though.... old roommates and boyfriends have discarded them, etc. They were literally just in my closet holding books, when I realized they could be so much more!

    I am not advocating for illegal activity!! Keep it safe, ya'll!!


    Nice instructable. Are you sure the crates "tucked away" in the store are meant to be discarded, though? Most milk crates are reused over and over and over again by the dairies that I know of. Many of them are labeled "property of ____ Dairy" to encourage stores and consumers to return them if found. :)

    1 reply

    Oh.. and here's a link with a bit more information on stolen milk crates in case you're interested:

    Next step, attach it on the wall.