Making New Wooden Crates Look Old and Vintage-y

Organically aged crates as bookshelves in Brooklyn living room

Organically aged crates as bookshelves in Brooklyn living room

I love the look of vintage crates. And they seem to be everywhere, in farm to table restaurants, bespoke men’s clothing stores, West Elm, RRL. You name your farm chic, haute bohemian venue of your choice. They have a crate. The first difficulty — where does one even find these (affordable ones)? At Brooklyn flea markets the rundown boxes go for $17 – $25. I wanted to find new crates that I could age myself. Wine stores, fruit stands — where do I go? In Missouri for Christmas, I found myself in Walmart looking at a sale on brand new crates. We packed the car with as many as we could fit.

Now I had my crates. The next step was to find an effective and easy technique to give them the look I wanted. I found a natural vintage-ing process which worked really well. The fresh pine wood in only a matter of hours turned a richly dark with the grains of the wood still visible.

What You’ll Need

Wood/Wood crates
​Black ChaiTea Bags — I used about 12 bags
1 bottle Apple cider vinegar
Steel wool — I added in 3 or 4 and recommend doing this up to 4 days in advance of staining day for an extra dark shade
2 Jars with lids — I picked up 2 plastic gallon tubs with lids at Home Depot
Water
Paint brush & rag — A brush is helpful for getting large sections at once, but you will need the rag to get into all the hard-to-reach spots (read: corners and spaces between the wood) to make sure nothing is missed. I did a second coat on all the crates, I recommend it anyway as I think it strengthened the dark, antique look
Plastic Work Gloves — This is messy but washes off easily. Also, do not do this in a location where you’re worried about splatter. Because you will definitely splatter.

​My inventory list varies slightly from the source, from having done a larger sampling of wood crates in one go. Check out the very straightforward step by step list courtesy of Upcycled Treasures. Happy Staining!