I have done this before but decided to take pictures this time around. I am doing these a couple at a time for organization in our kitchen. I love the look of vintage wine or fruit crates, but the prices are insane. Perhaps not everywhere in the country, but here the cheapest I’ve seen on Craigslist was $75 and it was about to fall apart. So I make ‘em.
I start with a craft crate from JoAnn’s or Michael’s. I actually have a preference for the brand carried by Michael’s, but this depends on which has the highest turnover – if they sit on the store shelf a long time, you have dust sunk in which makes a mess. A coupon makes them less than $8.
Here’s what the crates look like:
Lucinda is starting the first step in this picture: painting the crates with white vinegar that has had steel wool sitting in it for at least 24 hours. I let this sit overnight, then the crate is painted with strong tea (any cheap tea will do, as long as it sits four or five hours). These steps can be reversed, doesn’t matter which comes first. Here is a picture where the crate on the left has been painted with tea, and the crate on the right is steel wool/vinegar only:
Next up I use Mod Podge to apply a graphic, printed mirror-image with a laser printer. We don’t have a laser printer so I go all wild with the budget and spend 11 cents a print at our local copy shop. This needs to dry another 24 hours, then the whole thing is dampened (I use a spray bottle with warm water) and rubbed with a finger to remove all of the paper, leaving the graphic behind. At least in theory. I find that I need to let it sit 12 or so hours, and do that “finger sanding” step again, as it’s never all done the first time.
One crate with label still on, one where rubbing has begun:
Dampen the paper thoroughly. You should see the graphic through the paper:
Then start rubbing with your finger:
After the graphic is how I like it, I apply a coat of spoon oil to the whole thing. I use these for food, and if an onion goes bad in the bottom of the crate, I don’t want goop sinking into the open wood. Spoon oil is what we use on our countertops, and works great for these crates. Spoon oil is 4 ounces beeswax (I buy mine organic for the food exposure) to 16 ounces mineral oil from the laxative aisle, so it’s food safe. After the oil sits on the crates for another day or so, use paper towels or old T shirts you don’t mind tossing to wipe off the excess and buff in the oil a bit. Here Araminta is doing this job:
The two crates I did for this post, and two I’d done before:
You can see a box of chicken stock peeping through the handle of “Ville De Paris”. Makes perfect storage for potatoes, onions, and fruit, but also cans and boxes, and makes me feel good when I look at them :-).