How To - Miniature Wooden Boxes and Crates

The General Store,
I have been building a new Post Office for Gnomey which will have a little store in it as well. For the store I built a wall unit with 5 shelves, all made from wooden garden markers I got at the Dollar Store. Now I need to fill the shelves. The bottom 2 shelves will hold wooden boxes in which will be berries, mushrooms and other food stuffs in bulk.

This technique I show you makes building boxes pretty simple. I've laid out every step for you but don't be intimidated by all the instructions and photos below, once you build one you will see how easy building these can be.

Let's build some boxes!
With this technique I show you you can make the boxes any height, length, and width, that you want. I'm building mine to fit the width and height of my store shelves.

Before you start building your own please google "Old Wooden Boxes" and "Old Wooden Crates" for inspiration. There's so many different styles and sizes. It will free you up from thinking you have to have a certain measurement or thinking a box didn't turn out the way you wanted because it's going to turn out just fine! And remember old boxes and crates are naturally a little bit wonky that's part of their charm.

Supplies to build one box:
2 wooden coffee stir sticks
2 wooden craft sticks (I used ones that are 6 inches by 3/4 inch)
I found the sticks at the dollar store. There are also Jumbo craft sticks and Popsicle sticks, all can be used in this project,  but I found this  medium sized stick perfect for the boxes I needed.
cardboard from a cracker or cereal box
tacky glue (or any fast grabbing, clear drying,  glue)
sharp scissors

What I used to decorate the boxes: All optional, you can decorate as you wish!
instant coffee and paint
black ink pad
a stamp with words or images
printed images
matte sealer
For 2 of the handle styles I used a Dremel. You could also use a regular drill with the small bit or a manual drill with small bit. You don't have to add this style of handle though so don't sweat it if you don't have the mentioned tools. The box looks just as great without handles.

Step 1- Determine height, width, and length you need
The width of the medium size craft stick just happened to be the perfect height for the boxes I needed which is 3/4 inch.

I found that 4 coffee stir sticks, side by side, would be the perfect width for the bottom of the box.

Remember, you can use different sticks or cardboard to make a box, this is just the size I needed  to fill up one shelf.

Please keep in mind that the coffee stir sticks are not always the exact same width in a package. Some are wider, some are more narrow, some are uneven.

Each one of my boxes is a slightly different width even though I used 4 stir sticks for each bottom I made.

Step 2 - Cut the sticks
For the bottom of  a 2 inch box (approximate size, pictured above),  cut the coffee stir sticks to a little bit less than 2 inches in length. Cut 4.

Make sure the ends are as straight as you can cut them and that they are as close to the same length to each other as you can get them as all the sides will be glued around them.

Remember, you can cut these coffee stir sticks any length.

For the sides of the box, cut a craft stick into 2 pieces the same length as the stir sticks.

The end pieces need to be as wide as the (bottom width) plus the (width of  2 side edges).

To get this to be as accurate as possible, after I've glued the bottom sticks in place, I hold the 2 sides in place and then measure that width from edge to edge. I just eye it up, hold the spot with my thumbnail, then cut it with scissors.

Decide what kind of handles you want,
Do you want slot style handles or rope handles? If so, you have to drill the ends before gluing the ends in place. If you are not adding these types of handles then skip to Step 3.

For both the Rope and Slot style handles;
a) Make 2 dots with a pen on one end piece. I used the 2 center bottom boards as a guide. These dots will be where you drill the holes.

b) Place the end pieces together, tape them together, making sure the 2 dots are visible and the edges are completely lined up on all 4 sides. Tape them tight so they can not slide apart.

c) Tape them to something you can drill on top of. I taped mine down to a scrap piece of wood. You can hold it and drill but I felt nervous doing it that way. It felt safer to tape it down.

d) Drill holes into the 2 dots. For the rope handle you're done once the 2 holes are drilled.
Do not add the rope until you've finished painting or staining the box.

e) For slot style handles drill a 3rd hole in the center of the 2 holes. Do not remove tape, using an x-acto knife cut through all 3 holes and shape the handle, be sure to turn it over so you shape both sides.

f) Remove tape. If the slots  have any uneven bits you can use a piece of sandpaper to clean them up.

Step 3 - Glue coffee stir sticks to cracker box.
Be sure to not glue onto the colored side of the box unless you sand it first. I just face the colored side down and glue to what would have been the inside of the cracker box.

Make sure the ends of the stir sticks are flush before moving onto the next step.

Step 4: Glue side pieces in place
Run tacky glue down the very bottom edge of the side piece. Glue the bottom edge to the cardboard, do not glue them on top of the stir sticks.

Wipe off excess glue, 

If you plan on using a coffee stain as I did, or a real stain,  then be careful to not use globs of glue as it will make the stain look blotchy. I used too much glue, as you can see in the photos, but I did wipe the excess glue off.

Step 5: Leave dry
Make sure all the sides are are lining up properly and standing up as straight as you can get them.

Carefully place the box in between 2 heavy objects, push the objects up against the end pieces, push these until you can see the ends have full contact. If they refuse to sit flush then use masking tape instead.

If you find the edges won't sit flush after you place the box in between things as pictured above, you can use masking tape.

Place the tape on the cardboard first then run it along the end of the box and over, pulling as snug as you can, then over and onto the other side. The tape will force the edges to have full contact. Let fully dry for  about 30 minutes, before removing the tape.

Step 6: Cut away excess cardboard
After glue is fully dry cut away the excess cardboard.

Step 7: Stain or paint to decorate the box
For some of my boxes I use instant coffee to stain them. I put a couple tablespoons of  instant coffee into a little bit of  hot water. Always  do a test patch on a separate piece of wood first before painting on your good pieces.

I paint on the first coat then dry it with my hair dryer, then another coat then dry and so on. The color lightens up once it's dry so it can take anywhere from 2 to 5 coats or so to get the desired color.

I use coffee stain because I love the rich color and there's no heavy chemical smell. But if you don't seal the coffee stain in, the stain will rub off. A spray sealer works best. If you only have a brush on then brush it on quickly and lightly, passing over only once, or you could brush off the stain.

Once the stain part was done I decorated the boxes with a stamp with ink to give it some extra details. I also used the word "nature" and stamped that in the middle. Small stamped images would be great for this too.

I also painted a few boxes.
To get a rustic look, I paint on a coat or 2. Once the final coat of paint is dry I dry brush over a Burnt Umber, very lightly, just to dirty up the paint.

I googled vintage labels and saved a few I liked. I printed them off using windows gallery. I'm not an expert on resizing, I just fumble my way through resizing via windows, print off in wallet size then hope they will fit. There's tutorials out there for properly sizing images, I'll leave you to google the how to.

Step 8: Add the handles

I had very thin, rustic twine on hand which worked perfectly as a rope handle. If you only have a twine that's too thick for the holes you can always split it. Or use an embroidery thread.
Knot the ends to keep them from pulling through, dab a little glue on the knots to keep them from coming undone.

Use matchsticks for  wooden handles. You can always leave the boxes with no handles too.

Lids for the boxes,
This part is optional of course, the boxes don't need lids, but I just had to make a few!

Step 1: Place the finished box upside down onto a cracker box, trace it out then cut it out.
Step 2: Glue coffee stir sticks to the cardboard.

You will use 1 more stick than you used for the bottom of the box. I used 4 coffee stir sticks for the bottom of my box so for the lid I used 5 stir sticks.

The 5th stick will overhang the cardboard quite a bit and that's okay, do not cut it to fit, glue what part will fit and leave it dry.

Step 3: Place something heavy on top of the sticks so that they will dry flat. Leave it dry for about 30 minutes.

Step 4: Cut the excess sticks off. After you cut both sides, cut the overhang off, cutting along the cardboard. You can round out the corners with scissors or leave them square. Sand all the edges as needed. I sand the very edge of the cardboard and also the corners of the lid.

Step 5: Use a couple of matchsticks to make the slats for  the underside of the lid. These keep the lid from sliding off the box. Cut the stick down so it can slide inside the box without catching. Glue the sticks to the underside of the lid, close to the edge. Once the glue grabs on, before it dries, try the lid on the box. Adjust the slats as needed then leave them dry.

Step 6: Paint the lid.

My Tip Jar ~ Thank you!

If you make any crates or bozes using this tutorial I would love to see it! Post pictures on my facebook page Where The Gnomes Live.

Thanks for stopping by, come back soon!


  1. ¡Muy bonitas! Gracias por compartir tu forma de hacerlo.

  2. Sharon where have you been??? Is everything ok??? Have missed your blog and you tube channel!!!!

    1. if you're on facebook or instagram, I have been posting there.

      FB ~ Where The Gnomes Live
      IG ~ Ojala_Crafts

      I will be back on youtube soon, thanks for the concern, all is well :)

  3. Will have to check out FB. Happy to hear all is well.

  4. These look so cute! What is the purpose for glueing the box to the cardboard?

    1. because the pieces are so small it's way quicker and easier to glue to the cardboard, it keeps everything straight and sturdy as you work on the box, especially when you get to the sides. If you work with cereal box cardboard it's not noticeable when done but you'll have a solid little box.

    2. Okay. Thanks. 😁 I can’t wait to try it!

  5. How lovely!! Thank you so much for sharing!


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