DIY Mid-Century Style Beer Crate Side Table

Every once in a while one of my (many) project failures turns into an unexpected success.

I originally started out staining a smaller wooden crate in which I received some cheese I won (I know, I’m the luckiest girl alive) to make into a side table. All was going well until I tried to attach the hairpin legs that I ordered and found that their bases were too wide to even fit onto the box itself. Since all of my messier projects are done at my parents’, I scavenged around to find something else I could attach the legs to.

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I remembered an old wooden Pabst Blue Ribbon crate that used to hold firewood at our house and dug it out of the garage. After dumping out the wood scraps and cleaning the dust off, it was the exact style I was looking for, right down to the “Blue Ribbon” stamp on the side and the circular bottle marks worn onto it—and, more importantly, the perfect size for attaching the hairpin legs!

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I gave the crate a cleaning and a couple of coats of stain. After shaving down the length of the screws so they wouldn’t poke through onto what would become the bottom shelf (another perk of doing projects at home since I don’t exactly have a sawzall in my apartment—thanks, Dad!), the legs attached easily and I had a new-old table! 

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I absolutely love how this table turned out. From the size to the color to the beer theme, it was the perfect thing to use (and much better than the one I originally intended on using).

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It fits right into my apartment and is the perfect scale for a small space. I wasn’t sure what I would use it for, but it’s been working great to hold photo albums and assorted tchotchkes I want to display (like my antique mitochondria slide, duh).

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Pallet and Scrap Wood DIY End Table

I think this is the project I have been most excited about so far! I was cautiously optimistic about how it would turn out, but everyone I told was pessimistic enough to bring me down to earth. Pinterest pallet projects are trendy lately, so there were many examples out there so I could get a good idea of what I wanted to make. However, I didn’t follow any directions*.

*Having a super handy dad to guide you and try to take over the project helps get around this obstacle.

And so here is my Memorial Day cabin weekend project, finally done! This is the before picture. I started with a couple normal pallets and some scrap wood—2x4s and 2x2s. Step one: we pulled a few of the wider, less junky boards off the pallets.

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If you have a dream in your heart and let your imagination run wild, you, too, can see a beautiful table in this old pallet.

Then, I cut the leg and brace pieces to size. These were cut from the scrap wood because the pallet wood didn’t seem strong enough to serve as the support pieces. To decide what height I wanted, I measured an existing end table. Dad pro tip: measure each piece individually and cut before measuring the next one. Also make sure to cut on the same side of the line you mark each time. After this, I screwed the leg and brace pieces together to form the base.

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Craft projects AND power tools? It’s true, I am the total package. Shout out to my assistant, Doug.

Next, we cut the top (I had to pull the tools out of Dad’s hand to give myself a turn) pieces from the pallet wood and drilled holes in them so they align with the wooden supports they’ll sit on top of.

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Geez, give someone else a turn with the drill DAD.

Next, I screwed the top pieces onto the framework. Hey, it’s starting to look like a table (if you flip your computer upside down)!

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Yessir, the table has a top!

Then, since things were going so well, we got fancy and added a fetching little shelf, just for fun. This wood was cut from the pallet too, but from narrower pieces. The width didn’t exactly add up to the width of the shelf, so I left a little gap in between each slat.

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Top and shelf in place…almost.

Then comes a task I truly abhor: sanding. Oddly enough, the electric sander made a giant difference compared to the grating task of sanding by hand for hours. The fact that I decided this table is meant to be rustic and slightly imperfect helped, too. Tip from me to you: if you state that your intended product is a rustic and imperfect one, you will be very likely to get those results and be less stressed along the way.

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Vroom, vroom! (Electric sanding noise.)

Look at that. Smoooooth like butter. You could rub your powder soft cheeks on it, (does she mean face or butt? I’ll never tell) but I don’t necessarily recommend you try. The table is all constructed already! Wasn’t that fast? Now comes the really exciting part: turning it upside down yet again! Hold onto your hats!

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Here it is, all constructed!

But really, this is actually the exciting part. Staining the table really starts to give an idea of what it’s going to look like when it’s finished. The stain was another leftover freebie that my parents had from somewhere.

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Oops, there’s a stain on my table. [Pause for laughter]. Coat #1 done.

As much as my dad stood watching and endlessly critiquing me while applying a second coat of stain disapprovingly, I went for it. And I love the final color. The darker wood is definitely my style and will fit with my apartment’s decor, too.

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Coat #2 complete.

And now for the fun, endless part: sealing. I ended up doing one coat on the entire thing, a second coat on all the visible outer pieces, and a bunch more on the top and the shelf, probably six coats total. The idea of the seal was to fill in as many of the rough and uneven areas as possible. Plus, it gives it a shiny, smooth look.

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Seal the deal.

So, without further ado (this got entirely too long but I am just so excited), here’s the final product!

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No, of course I did not stage this picture. I always read Emily Post by the dim light of my antique lamp.


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It fits perfectly in the spot I wanted to use it!

Oh, just one more picture, why not?

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Me so shiny.

As an added bonus, this entire thing cost nothing! I got the pallets donated by a friend and everything else was leftover from my parents or lying around the cabin. So I finally did it. My big pallet project. Whew 🙂

Mod-Podge Paris Tray Table

This post has been a long time coming, which is not really excusable for how simple the project was! My favorite part is how cheap it was too. I picked up this little tv stand at an estate sale last summer for no more than $2. The idea was to mod-podge some cool paper on top of it, paint the legs, and make it a fun little side table. I toyed with the idea of mod-podging (which I had previously referred to as “hodge podge” and “modge podge”, both of which I learned don’t exist) some actual objects onto the top of it (i.e. postcards or pictures) but once I found this paper, I figured it did the work for me. I picked this up at a store in Minneapolis that’s hard to describe other than it has lots of fun STUFF. I’m loving these papers! A few bucks each but tons of styles and they’re thick and sturdy enough to use for all kinds of projects. I’ll definitely have to find more ideas as I’ve found these at an art supply store near me.

Anyway the mod-podge was probably the most expensive part of the project. It nearly broke the bank at $7. I pulled the tray piece off the legs and shellacked that paper onto the tray with a good 5 or 6 coats. It created a nice thick coating but I think I’ll still need to be careful not to get it wet or spill on it (not my strong suit). One issue I had was getting the paper tightly fitted into the curved corners. If you look closely (please don’t), the paper ripped in one corner and kind of stretched over another so it doesn’t fit in tight. Better luck next time. I did find that getting the paper and the tray pretty soaked in mod-podge first helped with the pliability. I threw about 4 coats of gold craft paint on the legs with a foam paintbrush and ta-da!

Total cost (estimated):

  • Table – $2
  • Paper – $3
  • Mod-podge – $7
  • Gold paint – $3

For a grand total of only about $15! Not bad. I’m still undecided on how much I like this. It’s definitely a handy size and height for my living room but probably not something I’ll move into a decent house one day. It works with my small apartment and mismatched decor for now though. What do you think? Cute or cheap looking?

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Here’s the festive 70’s tv tray before. I know, I can’t believe I would cover those fetching ribbons up either.

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View from the top. I’m kind of obsessed with Paris and fell in love with the paper. I think the angled placement worked out too.

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Painted the legs gold. Took a few coats but I like how it turned out.