DIY Bookshelves Made From Wooden Crates

I love wooden crates! Strange, right?! While wasting spending quality time on Pinterest, I would see all these DIY bookshelves made out of wooden crates. So simple. Rustic. Clever. This project went on my list of “must dos”.

The last few years I’ve been building the kids library. Majority of our books are thrift store finds. I just love their book sections! I never spend more than $1 per book. Most of the time they are less than 50 cents each. I’ve even been lucky enough to have a store just give them away for free. Crazy!

We started reaching a point where it no longer made sense for Cameron (age 7) to keep some books in his room and Melia (age 4) to keep some books in her room. They always wanted to read the books the other one had. Bookshelves became over crowded. Bedrooms started to overflow. It was time! We needed a central location.

I found a 40% coupon for Michael’s Craft Store (they always offer them). During one of their sales, I purchased 5 crates. In total I spent around $60 (including stain and supplies). These were going to become our new bookshelves.

What I Used:

  • 5 Wooden Crates
  • 1 Can Varathane Wood Stain (Light Walnut)
  • Rags
  • Plastic Gloves – It will stain your hands without.
  • Old Paintbrush – I added this after I started so it wasn’t in the photo. I had to throw mine away after this project.

Staining Process:

  1. Sand each of the wooden crates to your likeness. Mine were pretty rough. I left them a little rough. So far, no splinters have been reported. You can decide how smooth you want them.
  2. Dust each crate to get as much of the “sanding residue” off.
  3. Shake the stain well. Put on your gloves, and open the lid.
  4. Using your old paint brush, begin applying the stain to one side of a wooden crate. Paint and dab it on. You don’t have to be careful. Just try to apply as evenly as possible. Dab it into the crevices.
  5. You are going to use the rags and wipe the stain off. I began wiping the stain as soon as I completed painting one side. The longer you wait, the darker the stain color will be as more soaks into the wood. I got a pretty rich color removing almost immediately. You can play around with it a little bit to figure out the right length of time for the color you want to achieve.
  6. When you finish wiping the first side, flip and begin on the next. Keep in mind that some of the stain will seep or leak over to sides you’ve already done (or not done yet). You will want to re-wipe those as you go so you keep an even color. Make sure the surface you are working on is OK if you get stain on it. It doesn’t wash away.
  7. Once each side is stained and wiped off, just put the crate out to dry. Let it dry at least an hour. I only needed the 1 coat. I left mine to dry a bit longer as they still felt a bit tacky. This tackiness went away over time.


There was a space outside of my daughter’s room that was perfect for our book corner. It is also where we started hanging our artwork.

DIY Bookshelves

I loved the finished product! I’m thinking as the baby gets older and we add more baby books, I may add a couple of baskets on top. For now, it’s perfect.


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