Reusing Old Crates for Primitive Crafts

If you’re like me, you buy a bunch of stuff at garage sales, barn sales, thrift stores, etc. with some “project” in mind…and then it sits in your basement for two years and collects dust. I have a habit of hoarding anything remotely primitive, especially crates and wood items. I pick them up where ever I can, in whatever condition I find them, even ones that are pretty much falling apart. After a massive cleaning of the craft area last summer, I decided to break down some of these old apple crates and use the weathered wood as a base for some craft projects.


This one had no bottom and was pretty much useless, and was a perfect candidate to be recycled. One crate yields up to 16 strips of wood (or more, with a bottom) that would work for a variety of primitive/country themed projects! I used a screw driver and just worked it under the wood joints to east them apart. Some pieces broke but most came off without a problem. Obviously, the older and more dilapidated the crate, the easier they come apart!


These pieces have been sitting in a pile in the basement until this past week, when I finally found some motivation! I decided to make the first batch into country signs. I cut off the broken ends with a table saw, resulting in many different lengths. If you have complete pieces, you could leave them as is and go with larger words or sayings! I practiced my lettering on scrap pieces (I kept those scrap ends for just this reason) and pretty much just winged it.


I free-handed these words using regular craft paints. When I was mixing colors, I used a heavy acrylic white to thicken up the paint a bit. You could also use a stencil or letter stamps if you’re not comfortable free-handing.


I then used the pre-made holes (already there from where the nails held the crate together) and drilled a small hole in the other corner. Then using black wire, I made little hangers and tied on some fabric & twine accents.


They are heading to my co-op this week priced at $5 each. Here are some close-ups. For “welcome” and “wine,” I used a paint pen to accent the letters.





I messed up the accents on this Beach sign and ended coloring in the letters with a blue paint pen. I’m not crazy about the BRIGHT blue, but maybe it will be a nice pop of color for someone’s beach or cottage decor.


The next project was making a hanger for my collection of enamel dippers. I simply hammered in a few small nails, spaced out evenly down a full-sized piece of the crate wood.


I used sawtooth hangers on the back.


Done! That was easy. Then to hang it up I use my trusty toothpaste method that I just have to share. It’s a genius Pinterest life hack that everyone should be aware of! Just dab a small bit of toothpaste on the middle of the hangers…


Then position it on the wall where you plan to hang it, and press it against the wall. You will then have two small toothpaste dots on your wall indicating exactly where to place your nails. See them there, those little green dots just below the top cabinets?


Woohoo! I love it! Literally 2 minutes of effort for this project; it doesn’t get any better than that! It fills that blank wall space perfectly and looks pretty cool displaying my dippers! 🙂



And lastly, I wanted to make a “shutter” style wall hanging. I laid them out and then cut down the two horizontal pieces to get rid of the overhang. I scuffed up and sanded the sawed off edges to minimize the “freshly cut” look.


Then I tried nailing them in place but my nails were either too long or not long enough (pieces are fairly thin) so I used a crap load of wood glue along the horizontal pieces. It seems to be pretty solid now that it has dried.


I haven’t figured out what to do with it just yet. I was thinking of getting something to hold a mason jar on the front to use as a flower holder. Also contemplating a pip berry wreath in the middle, or putting one more horizontal piece laid flat along the bottom as a small shelf. Hmmm…decisions, decisions. I shall post the finished product when I decide what to do with it. 🙂


Have a great day and please feel free to send me any of YOUR up-cycled crate crafts to list here! Hope everyone is staying warm….thinking SPRING! 🙂

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nancy
    Feb 16, 2014 @ 13:42:39

    Fun and inspirational! Thank you for some great ideas…


  2. Joe Guy
    Feb 16, 2014 @ 15:07:33



  3. Barbara Briggs Ward
    Feb 16, 2014 @ 22:07:14

    I love old, worn wood-and what you have done with some old pieces makes me love them all the more!


  4. mary r
    Feb 16, 2014 @ 22:32:19

    So cute – love the wire with homespun and yarn accents! And that toothpaste idea is GENIUS – I can’t tell you how many holes I have in my walls from trying to hang a picture straight! I love your blog – always so simple and inspiring!(o;


  5. wendy
    Feb 17, 2014 @ 08:23:46

    I think we are sisters. Our taste are the same and we have made some of the same things. I love your site and all you do. I took down a old barn/shed and my husband son, and I have used the wood inside a new building to make it look old . Long story but you would love it. Old doors , old windows, tin , wood I love it!


    • Eyeballs By Day, Crafts By Night
      Mar 09, 2014 @ 08:45:13

      Thanks for your kind comment Wendy! Sounds like we definitely have the same taste!!! I love anything old, dusty, rusty…lol. Thanks for following my blog; sorry I haven’t been posting a lot lately. This winter has really cramped my crafting style. lol. Spring SOON I hope!!!


  6. Elizabeth Helms
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 00:59:28

    It’s been so long…glad to find ou in my email today! And with such creative ideas!


  7. Patricia
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 10:52:36

    As always love your talents and inspiration. I am not sure I would have ever given an old crate a second look…until now. Thank you.


  8. Vk
    Feb 23, 2014 @ 11:46:43

    Glad to see a post from you blog! You always have good ideas to share.


  9. Hania
    May 24, 2014 @ 16:24:34

    Wow! So simple and beautiful. I love these. Great work!


  10. Marsha Ward
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 19:25:11

    Just wanted to say I love your blog!!!! ANd am so glad your still posting to it! Lol! SOOO many prim blogs that started a while back and had tutorials, now are either gone or they no longer post tutorials. My guess would be because they have an Etsy shop and would rather just sell their goods and post about it, but not post the how-to =/ Which I understand, but I love to craft and Im a huge thrifter, so I would rather DIMS! Lol! It was actually your blog that got me started crafting and doing the Prim stuff, I discovered your grunge candle tutorial on Pinterest and I haven’t stopped crafting…or discovering new things…since (I found you over the winter on Pinterest). I have always been a collector of all things even remotely Primitive looking or antiquey looking, and also of Vintage stuff like sheets, pillow cases and doilys, vi ntage suitcases and Ohhhh do I LOVE vintage wrapping paper!!!! Lol! I also even do a farmers market with my aunt (my moms side is very crafty, creative! My grandmother used to flea market for old dolls and redo them, selling them at doll sales every Sunday in her front yard! And my aunt makes natural hand made soaps and has done everything else up to this point, but the soaps is now what has realllyyyy taken off in the last year or 2!) every week at her booth, she has the hand made soaps and really wants to help me to lift off! Lol! I have been doing Prim, like bowl fillers, etc..grunge candles, the night lights, and battery op grunge candles, but Im finding that if they don’t decorate Prim, they don’t ‘get it’?! Lol! So, I did some Altered Jars and that seems to go better! But anyway, Im rambling, and this is wicked long! Wow! Lol! I just wanted to thank you for still posting, esp the tutorials, because I do so look forward to your posts and learn so much from them all! Thanks again!


    • Eyeballs By Day, Crafts By Night
      Jul 18, 2014 @ 12:26:47

      Thank you for the very nice comment Marsha!!! I feel bad that I don’t post more often but I have a lot of stuff going on and just don’t have the time to craft like I used to. We started a boarding kennel last Fall and now I just don’t have time to craft or even go to the thrift stores as often as I used to. Oh well…maybe come Fall I will get re-inspired and try to work on some new projects. Thanks again and I am so glad you were able to find some inspiration and ideas here. Have a great weekend!!!! 🙂 Maggie


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