Our huge collection of kids books were being stored in a short Ikea billy bookcase in the playroom. I decided to add a craft desk in the playroom (blog post on that later), but that meant the books had to go somewhere else!

My son Boston is 5, loves books, so made perfect sense to put them in his room. I wanted something different than your typical bookcase and started the search on Pinterest and Houzz. His room is small, which narrowed down the search since a lot of what I loved, just wouldn’t work in his room.

Above picture is where I was testing the shape and size, making sure it worked (bottom crate is one I already had stained dark).

The crates are all from Michaels Craft Store, they cost $19.99 each. Since I go to South Commons and/or Michaels every few days, I picked one up every time I passed by with a 40% off coupon. Making them $11.99. Home Depot has the crates for around $12 but I found them a little more rough, but if you have an electric sander, or want more rustic, than those would work. Make sure to get crates that look square with no warping in the slats.

Overall I spent just over $120. Keep in mind, I had a few items on hand already (drill, sander, screws, etc) and aren’t included in the $120.

Materials Needs:

  • 8 unfinished wood crates – 12.5 inches (H) x 17.75 (L) x 9.5 (D) BUT any size would work
  • Sander or just a few grades of sandpaper would work
  • 6-8 Sponge brushes
  • Rags
  • Plastic table cloth (not pictured)
  • Minwax Provincial Stain – 946ml can (any stain color would work)
  • Minwax Paste (isn’t completely needed, I already had on hand)
  • Drill or screwdriver
  • Screws – 1 inch
  • L bracket (not pictured)


First sand down your crates. The inside is pretty rough, I spent the most time sanding in there. I left it still rough, just not as rough as it was! Next dust off.

Place crates on plastic. Dollarama has plastic table clothes I buy often for my sign business, just double up to be safe! Using your sponge brush, stain every inch of the crate, when finished, wipe down the crate with the rag. I found the sponge brushes only lasted about 1-2 crates before they broke.

After the stain is dry about 8 hours. Using a lint free rag, wax each crate and then wipe off within 10 minutes. The wax step isn’t necessary, but it does protect the wood.

The next step can get a little frustration but your almost done! Start with the crates that you think are in best condition. Line up the bottom two crates and pre-drill through one side of the crate towards the back. Holding the crates so they don’t shift, screw/drill in your 1 inch screw.

Continue building the bookcase, one crate at the time. I focused on making sure the outside and more obvious places were lined up. BUT realized that it won’t be perfect. First picture below shows where I lined up the edges as best as I could. The second picture shows where in the middle of the bookcase, it isn’t lining up.

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