The Cutie Crate – An Easy Repurposing Project

It now makes itself useful corralling CD’s atop our bookcase. In the past it’s been a drop box (for all those things that collect in your pocket by the end of the day), an egg collector (it looks SO pretty with a bit of straw at the bottom and eggs snugged neatly inside), fruit crate on the countertop (holding bananas, apples, etc.), and for holding children’s books. It is probably one of the best repurposing projects I’ve done to date when considering how useful it’s been. I’ve been amazed at the amount of weight it could hold.

What am I talking about? I call it… the Cutie Crate.


Do you have a ‘drop spot’? You know, the spot where you unload your pockets at the end of the day – keys, cell phone, wallet, pebbles, paper, pieces of sticks, half crayons without the wrappers…

Our drop spot has never been anything other than a box that fit the size of the drop spot.  Highly undecorative.

I finally decided to do something about it when my husband brought home 3 boxes of clementine cuties.  Instead of being in the tiny blue cardboard boxes that they usually come in, they came in little wooden crates.

Clementine Cutie Crates 01

Two of the crates had nice wooden sides, but a cardboard-y type bottom.  The third one had a wooden bottom, but two of the sides were cardboard-y.  The wood looks and feels similar to the balsa wood I used to use to make model airplanes from scratch, but it was slightly denser and stronger, so I’m not sure what type of wood it is.

Clementine Cutie Crates 02

I removed the cardboard bottom from one of the crates with wooden sides, and replaced it with the wooden bottom from the third crate. I used a screwdriver to pry up the big metal wires that were basically used as staples, and then just swapped the bottoms.

Clementine Cutie Crates 03

While I had the staples out, I sanded the area where the staples were so that I could be sure to get rid of the ink writing on one side of the crate.  I didn’t sand the whole area, because without a bottom in it, the crate was a little less stable.  I just cleaned the area directly where the staple had been.

Clementine Cutie Crates 04Clementine Cutie Crates 05

One of the staples from the side didn’t match up with the bottom hole.  Since the wood is quite thin and light, I didn’t even bother to pull out the drill (it would’ve cracked the wood anyway, most likely).  I just used the tip of this tool to bore a hole by hand.  A plain ol’ screw would’ve worked just as well.

Clementine Cutie Crates 06

Here’s the crate, with the bottom attached and all the staples replaced.  I wanted it to be quite secure, so I pulled the staples through tight, and then gently used a hammer to make sure it folded over right where it should, holding the whole thing together snugly.

Clementine Cutie Crates 07

I debated whether or not to saw off the extra lengths of the corner pieces, but in the end, I decided to put them to use and use their extra length to make a handle.  So I went out into my yard, searched for a fallen stick (we always have pieces of sticks around here), stripped off the bark, and used a saw to cut two pieces to the right length.

I tried attaching them with small nails, at an angle through the bottom of the stick, at first.  But in the end, I decided just to take 4 larger-sized nails (mis-matched from previous projects) and hammer them straight through the top of the sticks.  I was perfectly satisfied with the result – it looked a bit ‘organic’, which I like.

Then I stained it.  But I did one more thing after that… You see those holes in the middle, and the spaces at each corner?  I didn’t want those to be open and allow little stuff to fall through.

Clementine Cutie Crates 08

So I took the two long sides from the remaining crate, stained them as well, and then tacked them to the bottom of the crate.  Just for extra security, I added a good strip of wood glue all around each one of the added bottom slats, and used some quart jars to weigh it down while it all dried for a couple of hours.

As you can see, it ended up being a very sturdy little crate. Those jars full of popcorn kernels probably weigh a good 20 pounds or something together.  Maybe more.

Clementine Cutie Crates 09

And here’s the final result!  You can see the holes in the wooden bottom are covered over from beneath.  And the color turned out so nice all around!

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