DIY Wooden Crate Shoe Rack

Are you lucky enough to have a mudroom in your house?

My little home does not have one – just a pass through with a wider bump out between the back door and my kitchen door, which is the entrance we use most often. Because it takes so much abuse, the whole area is usually a complete shambles.

Messy mudroom area

I was using an old coat tree to handle the jackets and our boots and shoes were just thrown in a pile. The floor was covered with some cheap sheet vinyl, so when we tiled the kitchen floor we did this area too….and that motivated me to tackle some other improvements in this neglected and beat up space.

I was inspired by this DIY Vintage Crate Boot Rack which was cooked up by Laura at Finding Home Farms. I planned to use vintage crates for the project, but after scanning Craigslist, I discovered that a lot of them were $30-$50 EACH – not exactly in my budget – so I settled on new crates from Michael’s that I got for about $10. I figured I would just distress them to make them look vintage-y.

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Materials Needed for DIY Wooden Crate Shoe Rack

Unfinished wooden crates from Michael's

As luck would have it, about a week after I finished the project I checked out a new antique store and discovered a HUGE stash of nice big vintage crates for just $6 each. ARRRRGH! I contemplated redoing the project, because I would much rather have real vintage instead of faux-vintage, you know?

It might still happen.  😉

DIY Wooden Crate Shoe Rack Tutorial

  1. Stain the crates. I used Dark Walnut by Minwax.

Stained wooden crates

Yes, sometimes in the winter my dining room becomes a workshop. 

Dark Walnut stained wooden crates

I brushed the stain on, let it sit for just a few minutes and then wiped it off with rag.

DIY Wooden Crate Shoe Rack - Tame the chaos in your mudroom with this easy to make DIY Wooden Crate shoe rack made from unfinished wooden crates.

2. I screwed the crates together, using 4 horizontally and 2 vertically for my tall, Sasquatch sized boots.

Did you know that your feet can get bigger when you’re pregnant? I went from a size 9, which was big enough, to a size 11 back when I was pregnant with my son.  Are you kidding me?? I almost cried the day I realized I had to throw out every pair of shoes I owned. 

3. Add casters to the bottom so you can easily move the rack out to sweep underneath.

Casters on DIY wooden crate shoe rack

Pro-Tip:

Did you know that some casters rotate around in a circle and others just go back and forth in one direction? I didn’t realize this until I had them installed. If you’re going to add casters to your project, be sure to get the kind that rotate in a complete circle – they will say “Swivel” – it will make your life a lot easier. 

4. Next, you need to “age” the crates. I used a sanding block and some steel wool to take off some of the finish, focusing my attention around the edges. Wipe it down with a tack cloth when you’re happy with how it looks.

Steel wool and sanding block for show rack project

DIY wooden crate shoe rack

5. Add a graphic if you like. Since I didn’t have real vintage crates, I wanted to put some graphics on the rack to make it look more authentic. I downloaded THIS image from The Graphics Fairy and attempted the wax paper method of transfer.

I found a few tutorials on how to do this – basically you run wax paper through your printer to get the image. Unfortunately for me, the wax paper destroyed my trusty 15 year old black and white printer and I was forced to run out and replace it because I use it daily for one of my businesses. 🙁

Ladies, this is how you know your guy is a keeper – when he comes home and you’re sitting at your computer sulking because you just destroyed your printer trying to run WAX PAPER through it and he refrains from telling you that you are a complete idiot, well….you should probably keep him around. Extra points if he refrains from rolling his eyes. 

So….I started researching other methods and came up with this tool:

Lenk Woodworkers transfer tool

Wall Lenk L25TT Woodworker’s Transfer Tool

It’s made to do exactly what I was attempting to do, minus the destruction of critical office equipment.

6. Make a reverse image copy on an inkjet printer, heat the tool up for 8 minutes and press the image to your surface. The heat transfers the toner to your project. Simple, right?

Transfer tool image transfer process

Since I was going for a vintage look, I didn’t mind that the image only partially transferred –  it saved me from having to sand it down.

DIY Wooden Crate Shoe Rack - Tame the chaos in your mudroom with this easy to make DIY Wooden Crate shoe rack made from unfinished wooden crates.

I discovered that the printer you use for your image will affect what the transfer looks like. The image from my home printer didn’t completely transfer, but I had better luck with an image I sent to my local copy center. More toner maybe? If I was working on something like a sign where I needed a more complete transfer, I would go that route.

7. Add some hooks to the side to hold keys:

DIY Wooden Crate Shoe Rack - Tame the chaos in your mudroom with this easy to make DIY Wooden Crate shoe rack made from unfinished wooden crates.

This is what it looks like in action:

DIY Wooden Crate Shoe Rack - Tame the chaos in your mudroom with this easy to make DIY Wooden Crate shoe rack made from unfinished wooden crates.

I wanted to put a shallow basket on the top to hold sunglasses and gloves, and I originally picked up this lined wire basket from Michael’s:

lined wire basket from Michaels

Unfortunately it was too tall for the space – it was too close to the sconce and it looked funny.

I recently picked up this stack of black wire letter trays from the thrift store, 5 for $3. When I got them home I realized they don’t stack, which made them a lot less useful for my home office.

black wire letter trays

I spray painted one of them flat nickel and added a liner from another basket and it worked perfectly.

Speaking of that sconce –

I originally bought this light, which is the same one I used at the base of my stairway:

Vintage looking sconce from Lowe's

Unfortunately, the small Edison light just didn’t give off enough light for this area – at night it kind of looked like a night light. I replaced it with a longer Edison bulb which worked much better, but the glass dome wouldn’t fit over it. I left it uncovered for about a week while I puzzled over the problem, and ended up adding the cage light cover. I picked it up at Lowe’s, you can find it HERE.

DIY Wooden Crate Shoe Rack - Tame the chaos in your mudroom with this easy to make DIY Wooden Crate shoe rack made from unfinished wooden crates.

 DIY Wooden Crate Shoe Rack - Tame the chaos in your mudroom with this easy to make DIY Wooden Crate shoe rack made from unfinished wooden crates.

Order has been restored! Having an organized spot to put everything makes us less inclined to use the area as a dumping ground and it’s definitely a more pleasant sight when we walk in the door.

DIY Wooden Crate Shoe Rack - Tame the chaos in your mudroom with this easy to make DIY Wooden Crate shoe rack made from unfinished wooden crates.

I’m linking this project up at some terrific blog parties – you can find my complete list of places I party HERE.

Cheers Julie Signature

About Julie

Julie is a serial entrepreneur, marketer, former newspaper columnist, black belt bargain hunter, voracious reader, gardener, music lover, foodie, wino, avid party thrower, hopeless romantic, closet Parrot Head and DIY machine.