Rust-Oleum Projects

DIY Stained Wooden Crate

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Traditional Cherry Crate Project After
  • Estimated Time

    2 Hours

  • Challenge Level


  • Tools & Supplies:

    • Sandpaper (#120, #150, #180 Grits)
    • Drop cloth
    • High Quality Synthetic Bristle Brush
    • Lint-Free Rag or Cloth
    • Wooden Crate

Wooden crates are perfect for storage around the house. Blankets, books, wine bottles, toys--you name it, a crate can store it. In this project, we’ll show you how to stain a standard wooden crate so you can get affordable storage that’s custom to your home.

  1. BEFORE YOU START: Is this your first staining project? Check out these videos on how to stain wood and how to apply polyurethane to get comfortable with the process before you begin.
  2. PREPARE: Always work in a ventilated area and cover your workspace with a drop cloth. To prepare for staining, sand the entire crate, working up from #120 grit sandpaper to #150 and #180 grits. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain. After sanding, remove the dust with a tack cloth.
  3. STAIN: Now that the crate is sanded and clean, you can begin staining. Stir or shake your can of Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain (we used Traditional Cherry) thoroughly before beginning. Dip your cloth or brush into the stain, and working in small sections, apply the stain to the crate generously in the direction of the wood grain. Let the stain sit on the surface for a few minutes (more time = deeper color), and then wipe away the excess with a clean rag. Repeat these steps on the entire crate and set it aside to dry for one hour.
  4. TOPCOAT: After one hour, you can apply the polyurethane topcoat. Stir (do not shake) your can of Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane thoroughly before beginning. Using a clean, high quality synthetic bristle brush, apply the polyurethane to the crate using long, even strokes in the direction of the wood grain.
  5. FINISH: Let the crate cure for 48 hours before light use, and seven days before heavier use.

If you feel like dressing your crate up a little more, follow these steps to add a stenciled pattern to its exterior. Otherwise, put your crate in any room of your house that’s in need of storage and start organizing!