How to Make Rustic Wood Box … on a Budget!

How to Make Rustic Wood Box … on a Budget!

During my haul at Michaels for my fall decor, I saw a super cute vintage crate, but my tight $20 decorating budget didn’t allow me to put it in my cart.

So, instead, my mind started whirring, and I realized I could use up some of the scrap wood in the garage to make my own gorgeous wooden display crates.

Everything I needed was just waiting for me in the garage so this project was absolutely free for me to do — the best price I know! Interested in learning more?

Well, keep on reading to learn how to make your own vintage inspired rustic wooden box.

Materials Used

Rustic Wood Box Step 1: Cut Your Wood

Because I used scrap wood, I didn’t need to buy anything (awesome!), but if you don’t have scrap wood on hand, you’ll want to purchase some at Home Depot, Lowes, or a local lumber yard.

Because I made two boxes, I’ll share a cut list for each. If you’re using scrap wood, you may want to ignore the cut list and piece your own boxes together to use up what you have. That’s what I did to save some money!

rustic wood box

rustic wood box

Cut List for Box A

For the box to the right in the photo above, you’ll need the following:

Board SizeCut LengthQuanity NeededPosition on Box
1 by 312 inches3Bottom
1 by 210.5 inches2Long Sides
1 by 27.5 inches2Short Sides

Cut List for Box B

For the box to the left in the photo above, you’ll need the following:

Board SizeCut LengthQuanity NeededPosition on Box
1 by 67.5 inches2Bottom
1 by 27.5 inches1Bottom Center
1 by 27.5 inches2Short Sides
1 by 211 inches2Long Sides

Rustic Wood Box Step 2: Assemble Your Boxes

To assemble the boxes, use Gorilla wood glue and put a small seam of glue on each piece of wood. I used my Ryobi Airstrike nail gun to nail my box together. Side note: I LOVE that nail gun!

It makes building DIY projects SO EASY! Plus, because it’s battery operated, there’s no cord in the way and I don’t need to hook it up to a compressor. Seriously, this was a game changer for me.

I first assembled the frame, then I flipped frame over and nailed the boards onto the back, making sure to use wood glue at every step along the way before I nailed the boards together. I had an old rag on hand to wipe up any wood glue that leaked out between the seams.

rustic wood box
rustic wood box
rustic wood box

Rustic Wood Box Step 3: Sand and Distress

Once the boxes were fully assembled, I used my Ryobi Corner Cat sander with 120 grit sandpaper to smooth down the wood.

It’s always amazing to me how much that little sander gets done! I like it because it’s battery powered (using an interchangeable battery, which is nice), and it saves my arm muscles from destruction. LOL. Sanding is work!

When I sand, I always lob a little off the corners and edges so that the boxes look a little more worn and ages. No perfect corners here!

Once done sanding, it’s time to distress! Now, pull out that hammer and a handful of screws and go to town leaving indentations in your perfectly smooth wood.

Okay, I know it seems counter intuitive to wreck up the beautiful smooth surface you just made, but the final result should be something worn and weathered without lots of splinters.

Try and use different edges of the hammer and screws to give interesting texture. You’re looking to make distressing marks for the stain to settle in the next step. I’ve never finished this step, by the way, and though, “Gah! I distressed too much!” Have fun!

rustic wood box

Rustic Wood Box Step 4: Stain and Display!

Once you’ve distressed your wood, take the time to get rid of as much sanding dust as you can. I personally used a leaf blower for this. Get that dust away!

When you’re workspace is clear, now’s the time to break out your favorite stain. It’s true — there are a bajillion kinds of stain, and I prefer Minwax Provincial, which I use almost every time. I like the hue and the fact that it’s water-based. I’ve tried bunches, and this one’s the winner in my book.

To add a rich brown stain to my boxes, I applied one coat of the stain, using a small sponge brush. I let the stain sit for about 3 minutes, then used a small rag to wipe off the excess.

Part of the reason I love the Minwax Provincial stain in particular is that I only need one coat of it to get the depth of color I like. Saves me lots of time and stain! I stained all sides of the boxes, working over a plastic drop cloth, and letting the stain dry for 24 hours.

rustic wood box

Once the stain dried, I brought my beauties inside and put them on my $20 fall mantle. The pumpkins look so gorgeous on their new homes!

Plus, the boxes were just heavy enough to hold down the DIY banner I made, which hangs above the fireplace.

rustic wood box
Finished Pumpkins DIY

I love these vintage inspired, rustic wood boxes. They seriously make me so happy! Plus, my mantle looks amazing with them perched on top.


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