DIY Crate Coffee Table
By Ali Smith on January 19, 2015

You may have seen the DIY crate coffee table on Pinterest. Many of the pins are not actually linked to a blog with instructions, and this can be frustrating when you see an awesome project, but do not know where to start! Here are the instructions for you to make your own DIY crate coffee table! 

Materials you need: 

4 wooden crates. We bought crates from Joann's, but you can also find them at Michael's or even Home Depot. When I bought the crates they were on sale for $9.99 each. I am signed up for Joann's text messages where they send you coupons, so you can also get 20% - 40% off depending on the coupon. They also have coupons on their website. Dimensions of the crates are: 12.75 x 9.5 x 18 inches (W x H x L)

4 swivel casters with brakes. We purchased our casters at home depot. The swivel wheels let the table move around easily and the brake keeps the table still and this will help, especially if you have wooden floors. 

Stain. This is where your personal style choice comes into play. We used red mahogany 225

Satin Polyurethane. You can get this from Home Depot as well. 

Plywood 2 ft. X 2 ft. Plywood varies in thickness, you should use your own personal judgment. Usually you can get this already cut at Home Depot or Lowes because it's small enough. 

Drill and screws.

Sand paper

Old t-shirt or rag. 

Paint brush. 

Foam brush.



Step 1: Sand all 4 crates

Step 2: Stain all crates

This was my first time ever staining anything! If this is your first time as well, you can do as well as I did or better! I read a lot of other blog posts and how-to's about staining because I was so nervous. 


I would definitely suggest starting off with a piece of test wood or starting off with your piece of plywood. The plywood will be put on the bottom of your crate coffee table, so no one will see it. I did not do this, but it ended up working out, thankfully. I used the paint brush for the initial coat and then wiped the excess stain off with an old t-shirt. The longer you leave the stain on, the darker it will be. I left mine on about 1 minute and then wiped the excess stain off. If you aren't sure how dark you want your stain, start off light and then you can darken it slowly with layers. 


I would also recommend wearing gloves and clothes you do not mind getting dirty. I wore clothes I didn't mind getting dirty, but my hands and legs are what got dirty. I looked like I had mahogany colored birth marks all over my legs and arms. How to get the stain off your skin? Olive oil. It works people. First wash off with soap and water. Then rub olive oil all over the areas that are stained. Then rinse off! It works.


 The stain needs to dry before you do anything else. I kept them up high on boxes in the garage. I read that 24 hours is usually enough time, but shortly after we stained the crates, our hot water heater busted an flooded part of the garage (thank goodness I had them up high!). The humidity in the garage didn't leave and I think I waited over a week for them to be completely dry and not sticky. 

Step 3: Satin Polyurethane

I used foam brushes to paint on polyurethane on the top of the crates. 

Step 4: Drill crates together

Don't worry about the 'hole' in the middle! We will get to that. 


Step 5: Sand/Stain Plywood

Now it's time to sand and stain the plywood just like we did to the crates! If you decided to do this first, then you can move on to step 6.

Step 6: Attach plywood to the bottom of the crates

Make sure that you drill the plywood in the parts where the sides of the crates are so the screws do not stick out. If wood glue sounds like a better option to you, that could work as well. 

Step 7: Attach caster wheels 

You also have to make sure the caster wheels are being attached to the sides of the crates with the thicker wood - that is unless your plywood is thicker than the screws are long. The photo below to the right is the finished product from the bottom!


The table is now finished! 

The middle of the table can be filled with any kind of decor you would like. During Christmastime we filled the middle with cinnamon scented pine cones. You could fill it with wine corks or place a plant in the center of the table. The inside of the crates can be used for storage and other decor to make your living area look even nicer! I have travel books, board games, a vintage camera, etc. Get creative! Show your personality in whatever decor you use. It lets your guests get to know you better and can even start some conversations. If you don't like the whole, you can always use scrap pieces of wood to cover it up. You also have the choice of putting on a glass top over the crate coffee table for a more stable top. 

You can actually purchase this crate coffee table on Etsy from different people. The cost is between $100 - $300. 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you have any questions, please comment. If you try it out yourself, let me know how it goes! 


About The Author

Ali Smith

Ali is a student, wife, typewriter collector, board game player, and lover of travel. She writes about her DIY projects, typewriter collecting, subscription boxes, personal stories and social issues.