Make a fun & useful Christmas word art crate from an unfinished crate using letter stickers, antiquing gel, and paint.
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Here is a fun way to take a basic wood craft store crate and make it into a DIY Christmas word art crate. It’s a fun, quick, and easy way to add a useful holiday decor item.
There is a lot of ways to craft these types of unfinished crates, so I’m hoping you’ll get a dose of holiday inspiration by seeing how I personalize a standard item with basic DIY skills!
As you can see from the photo above, I decided to add some meaningful holiday words to the crate. I wanted it to look a bit rustic and worn like much of our other farmhouse-cottage Christmas decor, so I knew paint would be involved and a little distressing, too (which you may have guessed, right?).
Since I don’t have a vinyl-cutting machine, I grabbed some letter stickers to make the words like I did with this thrift store word art project, using the stickers over a warm brown stain that would then be covered with white paint. And I LOVE how it turned out!
DIY Christmas Word Art Crate
Here’s what I started with:
A basic 18 x 12 x 9 unfinished wood crate. I purchased this at Home Depot in November, but it’s a seasonal item so it was one of the last they had (here’s one I found on Michaels.com that is still available).
- Rubbing alcohol
- Water-based Antiquing/Stain Gel (not a wood stain – those are mostly oil-based – this is found with the craft paints)
- Small foam brush
- 1-1/2 inch letter stickers
- Creamy white spray paint
- Creamy white paint & small regular paint brush (I used an enamel that I already had, but a chalk or milk paint would be nice, too)
- Sanding block
1. The first step is to remove the sticker, which then will leave a pretty thick residue if it’s anything like mine. That’s where the rubbing alcohol comes into play. Use a rag and rub it on hard until there’s no stickiness left. It dries really quickly, so there’s no need to wait before continuing with the project. Nice.
2. Next, use a foam brush to apply the gel antiquing/stain on the front slats. Add a nice, thick layer and let it set for a minute (or follow whatever directions your bottle says) before wiping off with a rag. The reason I chose this water-based gel was so that I could finish the project fairly quickly. If you only have oil-based wood stain that you’d like to use, you’ll just have to add the drying time to it (and deal with the fumes, but that’s another issue…).
3. If you would like the brown to show through on the edges after sanding, like I did, wipe some gel antiquing on all the other areas you think you’ll want to hit with the sanding block later.
4. Plan your words and placement:
- Decide the holiday words you want and then write them out on a piece of paper, spacing them evenly to guide you.
- Use a yardstick to mark the center of each front slat with a pencil.
- Attach stickers to crate slats starting from the center marks and spacing according to your written guide (it doesn’t have to be perfect, obviously, but it will look better if you attempt to center the words as much as you can). I added all the center letters first, as pictured, and then worked out from each.
- Go over the edges of the stickers with your thumbnail or a credit card to make sure they’re all sealed and to minimize seepage.
5. Spray 2 light coats of white paint over the entire crate, being sure to cover all the areas. If you’re like me and doing this when it’s cold outside, you may find you need to use regular paint and a brush to finish it up. The spray paint wouldn’t work well with the weather, though I was glad I got a coat on, since it easily covered all the nooks and crannies. I only used the regular paint to finish the front slats and sides.
6. Peel off the stickers. You don’t need to wait until it’s dry as long as you don’t think you’ll disturb the paint. I found it helped to use an xacto knife to help get the stickers to start peeling.
7. Sand the box well, especially over the letters since it helps blend the paint and stained areas, as well as all the edges.
And that’s it!
I didn’t bother with any type of clear coating, but if you want to use your box outside, you may want to coat it in a weather-resistant clear sealer to protect it.
The crate turned out exactly as I hoped it would and I can think of so many ways to use it in our holiday decorating.
Right now I’ve filled it with our cozy faux fur throw, but I also think it will work nicely to hold small presents under the tree, on the porch filled with boughs or by the fire full of logs and small white lights.
Really, the list could go on – it’s more like, how would you not use it?
And…you’re next! What would you do with a blank crate?
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