Surplus Style Record Crates

recordcrate_title
You’ll need some tools: You’ll need a few materials:
  • 2'x4' of 7/16" plywood
  • crate hardware: corners and a pull

I’ve been needing some more room for my growing record collection and all the while have been looking for the right sized vintage box. I was hoping for something somewhat military surplus, but never found the right size or condition. If I found something, it was always a one-off and typically poor shape. Here’s the plan to make some for yourself, and they’re easily replicable when your collection floweth-over.

One crate can be made from a 2′x4′ piece of plywood, typically called a project board. If you have the room and the need, you could get 4 crates from a 4′x8′, but boards that big don’t typically fit in hatchbacks. I used 7/16” plywood, some small trim screws, wood glue, crate hardware and paint for this project.

Because thin plywood isn’t good for making sturdy boxes unless you have fancy joints, we’re going to have to use a table saw to cut some channels with a dado. If you don’t have a dado blade, or just lost your dado throat plate in a recent move, you can cut these with a single blade and just move your fence to cover the channel with a few passes. Because I am using 7/16” ply, you’ll need to make your dados 7/16” in from the end and of course 7/16” wide. Dados are indicated on the cut sheet diagram. Information on cutting a dado is here.

1. Cut all pieces according to the cut list with the table saw. You’ll need one with at least a 15inch fence. After pieces are cut, you’ll need to cut dados as specified. They’re all the same, so save time by cutting in an assembly-line fashion.

2. Next, you’ll need to cut clearance out of the front panel to install the hardware pull. Depending on the type you use, you’ll need a different cut, so I won’t detail it here. You could put handles on the sides, create a lid, make them taller and stacking… any option you might want for your particular use.

3. When all pieces are ready, you can start the glue-up. Clamps are necessary to get a solid joint, and I’ve added some small screws for added heft. Use wood glue spread with your finger on both boards to properly assemble and use a damp cloth to clean up any glue that’s squeezed out during the clamping. Let sit for the recommended amount of dry time. Once the main panels are assembled, you can add the side rails, and the triangle pieces to the underside. Triangle pieces ensure that you get a solid structure and a good area to mount the corner hardware pieces.

4. Final step is to sand to your preference and paint. Since I was going for a rough surplus look, I sanded all sharp edges soft and left some mars and chips in the wood. You can make it soft and smooth as you want, but for my purposes, I spend almost no time sanding. Some flat latex paint brushed on, and I’m done.

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Wooden Crate Headboard

make_title_headboard
You’ll need some tools:
  • Hand saw or electric saw
  • Drill with phillips bit
  • Sandpaper and sanding block
  • Orbital electric sander with 60 grit paper
  • Rags for stain
  • Brush for poly
You’ll need a few materials:
  • 4 qty 8ft long 2x4s
  • 8 qty 8ft x 5.5in x .5in cedar fence planks
  • 3in drywall screws
  • 1.25in finish nails
  • water based stain
  • water based polyurethane

Bedrooms in my house are very, very small. A queen-sized bed fits – but without much room on either side for nightstands or storage. I had a small nightstand, but after piling a large alarm clock and lamp and anything else on it and it looked ridiculous. After pouring over ideas, I thought about making a built-in solution. Now I have a huge shelf to stack my junk, extra books, lamps, blankets, trinkets, whatever! Also, figured if I was building it, why not give it some doors and use it for extra blanket/pillow/sleeping bag storage? This works great for me, and maybe it would for you too.

Plans are based on my build, but you can surely adapt them for any configuration. For facing boards, I used cedar fence planks, mainly because they are readily available and inexpensive. I would have loved to have built this with some reclaimed Fir, but I was impatient and started building and couldn’t find what I wanted to finish the job over the weekend. If you want antique wood, search some out before beginning your project – however here’s my plan based on 8ft x 5.5in x .5in cedar planks.

First step: Measure your space and sketch it out. I always recommend a sketch for built-in projects. If you plan this part correctly you’ll limit the amount of lumber you use and have less cuts to make. As I built, my plan kind-of adapted, and I had more cuts to make, but I’ll give you hints to avoid this. Things to remember: 2x4s are actually 1.5 x 3.5 inches – so note actual lumber size when formulating.

Build the facing frame: If you have uneven walls like mine, measure and cut your floor-length board first. Measure and cut your verticals, and make sure they are close enough together for decent support – no further than 18″ apart. I cut five verticals, 24.5″ each. Lay your verticals on the floor, then screw your floor-facing board to them with your screws. Once assembled, set your frame in place, and measure and cut your top board. Because my walls bow, it was important to cut this board to it’s location height. If you have plumb walls, you can completely built out the frame and set in place. Before screwing the ends of the top boards, level your frame and screw the end boards into the wall. Make sure you’re anchoring to a stud, because this is your main support/anchor points. I chose to not screw the frame into my floors, and the wall mounts were secure enough to accomplish this. After your facing fame is in place, I attached 2x4s to the back wall as supports for my top doors. Make these even height with your top frame board. I left space between boards to feed electrical cords behind the doors easily. Then for added strength, I attached the facing frame to the back wall with a 2×4. This board also helps support the door tops, which will rest on the facing frame top and the back wall boards.

Facing boards: Now your frame is complete and secure, you can begin the facing. My cedar fence boards are VERY rough, so I sanded the harsh surface with an orbital sander and heavy grit paper. This left them still rough in a rustic way, but not splintery. After sanding, sweep off the sawdust. Between the boards and the frame, I attached heavy plastic, so when I stored things inside, they wouldn’t catch on the board surface. This is just an option if you use rough boards and don’t want to snag anything that might rest against them. Then nail your boards over the plastic covered front frame. I used small finish nails that would be easily hidden. Make sure your boards are level and then nail them in place. If you’ve measured correctly, your top facing board should come above your frame top by 1″ so your doors will be counter sunk. (I did not make this important calculation before-hand, so I had to attach a cut trim piece to take up the gap.)

Top doors: Once your facing boards are in place, you can measure you top door depth. Again, my walls are un-even, so each one is different and cut accordingly. Don’t make them too snug either, mine each have a small gap at the back, so I can easily feed my lamp/clock electrical cords though. The top boards are just made with the fence planks, two support boards each, glued and attached with small screws. For handles, I drilled holes and used scrap leather strips, fed through and knotted. You could use drawer handles, rope, large finger holes, whatever you like.

Finishing: You can finish your facing boards and doors before attaching, but I finished in place. I used water based stain to darken the boards, let dry and then coated with water-based poly. I used water based products since I’ll be sleeping in here, and the fumes are way less noxious. Because the boards are very coarse, I used three coats of poly with a vigorous hand sanding in between. It was more about building up a thick finish to prevent splinters than creating a smooth topcoat for me. After a day or two drying, I could place move everything back in place.

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