August 11, 2011

Wooden Crate for fridge-top from Salvaged Wood (Tutorial)

The top of the fridge always seems to be the bane of my kitchen cleaning existence!  We live in a tiny little house, and have maxed out the cupboards.  This means that the top of the fridge is the only place left to store cereal!
A while back I decorated a cardboard box for the top of the fridge - to hold said cereal and other snacks... It worked great, but eventually started to sag.  A few weeks ago, I decided that I needed to create something sturdier...

When I saw these things below (whatever they are) sitting on the side of the road on trash day - I snatched them right up!  I am always looking for wood items, in good condition, on the side of the road.  Repurposing wood is so much fun!  It already has its own character - it is FREE (big bonus) - you feel good about saving something from the landfill...
And since I had known I wanted to make a crate for the top of the fridge, grabbing this wood was a no brainer (thank you New England for letting people put all sorts of trash on their curb!!) !

All I had to do was take out a few screws and I had all these beautiful pieces of wood....

I measured the width and height of the cardboard box that was currently on top of my fridge, and wouldn't you know it, I was able to cut each one of these long boards into two pieces, one that was the correct length for the top/back, and one that was the correct length for the sides!  (You can, of course, buy wood for a project like this.  These boards were 3.5" wide and .75" thick)

Now, I want you to be proud of family was out of town, so I busted out the circle saw ALL BY MYSELF!  I also sanded the boards down a bit, to remove rough edges, and some water stains that I didn't like.

Below is a picture of the boards all standing in the positions I envisioned - before I nailed or glued anything together.
I made my crate with only 4 sides (back, 2 sides, top) because the fridge acted as the bottom, and I needed the crate opened on the front to get things in and out of course.  Plus, this was all the wood that I got out of those watchimathingies I picked up off the side of the road...  If I ever want to use the crate for something else though, adding a bottom would be easy.
So, in this picture below, the back is on the ground, the sides are on the left and right, and the top is the side farthest away in this picture (the boards for the top are stacked behind it).

You can also see that I needed boards to support the crate vertically, so I cut 4 boards to the height that the crate would end up.  To do this though, take into consideration:
1) any gap you want between your boards (I used half an inch gap), and
2) the thickness of the boards that make up the top.
This is why laying it out like this was really helpful for me.  I drew myself a picture, but then set it all on the ground before I cut the height pieces - to make sure I had calculated correctly...

So, once the boards are cut - start hammering and gluing!
Below, the picture shows the back, nailed and glued into one top piece and two height pieces.  Use tons of glue and tons of nails - it helps!  (basically the picture below is the same as the picture above, just without all the side pieces sticking up)

Then, I glued and nailed the right side boards on...

Then nailed and glued the left side boards on...

Here it is below, standing upright.  You can see that I attached two more height pieces at the front of the crate.  They provided the necessary support for all those side pieces sticking out.
This means, the only thing left is the top...

You guessed it!  Nail and glue the top boards on... and the crate is finished!

Now, I specifically made my crate tall enough to slide a skinny board between the gaps of the top side pieces (as seen below) to create an additional shelf.  I love this, because now granola bars, crackers, etc. can also have a place!  The fridge is only wide enough for a few cereal boxes, so that extra shelf is a life saver!
After my crate was built, I measured exactly the size shelf that I needed, went to Home Depot, and they cut it for me (this was about the only thing I spent money on for this project!)  Just a few dollars got me a perfect shelf.
It is called MDF - Medium Density Fiberboard - and I found it in the lumber aisle.

Here is a view from the side.  The vertical/height pieces not only add support, but add to the aesthetics as well. A cross (diagonal) piece would be kindof fun on the side, but I had run out of wood, and don't have the tools to cut at an angle easily... still, I love the way mine turned out!

From the beginning, I knew I wanted a cover for the front - because part of the appeal of this crate is covering up those mess of cereal boxes (in addition to keeping them from falling on the floor).

I used a canvas drop cloth (which I have used for many projects before this one (like here and here)) - they are so great!  Cheap, neutral color, sturdy...
I cut a piece to the correct size and sewed under the raw edges.

With my Silhouette, I cut pictures and words out of Freezer Paper (here is a great tutorial on using freezer paper as a stencil), and then I spray painted!

This is what I got once I pulled the freezer paper off... just the funky look I was going for.  And if it ends up being too funky for my taste, it is EASY AND CHEAP to make a new cover!  It might even be fun to make covers that correspond to the holidays.... we'll see :)

I screwed tiny little hooks into the crate on the four corners, to hold the round elastic loops that I had sewed to my cover...

And now, I have an over the fridge crate that will never sag, and has a nice neutral color...
I toyed with the idea of stenciling words onto the crate as well - but for now I am satisfied with the way it is.  A crate like this could be painted any color, of course, to match a room or kitchen decor.  
So, if you are like me, and need over the fridge space, try making yourself a cute little crate! 

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  1. Looks great!

    I dream of the day I can use a circular saw.

    gertie @ The Old Block House

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  3. My name is Jacque and am visiting from "Making It with Allie". I just wanted to say that I really like your idea of using a wooden crate to help organize your cereal. Right now, I've got my cereal on top of my freezer and it looks like a royal mess. I need to make one of these to help organize everything.

    Jacque @ Jacque's Soda Parlor

    Feel free to stop by my blog anytime. I would love to see you there!

    P.S. I host a link party every Sunday, if you care to join me. I'm sure the ladies would love to see any of your crafts!

  4. This is a brilliant idea! I was surprised when I saw how you added the letters. Great idea with that too.

  5. My guess is, that was a small futon, but it's much better off as your awesome cereal box holder. Seriously, I need to channel some of your amazing crafty-ness!

  6. Lindsay, you are so clever! And resourceful! I am very impressed!

  7. Fun idea! The top of my fridge is frightening!

    Looks like a piece of MDF to me- Medium Density Fiberboard. Is that it?

  8. Great job on this. Perfect for storing the cereal boxes.

  9. This is a great idea! And what a way to recycle some wood.


  10. Love. I have the same fridge problem and now I know what to do with it! Thanks! Newest follower!

    Brie from

  11. Oh what a great idea!! I am sooo doing this!! I love having the storage on top of the fridge but I hate looking at all those boxes. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Great idea and good sharing of tutorial.

  13. Thanks for linking to Take-A-Look Tuesday -- I featured you today!
    - Mandy,

  14. great job! I love that you enclosed it with the canvas!
    thanks for sharing @ catch as catch can.

  15. This is SO cute! Love reusing free stuff and you mad eit so fun!

  16. I love how that turned out!

  17. This is great! I am going to attempt to make this project this weekend! Could you provide the measurements you used for the boards and the MDF?