DIY Firefly Crate - Subtle, yet 有光澤

Nov 1, 2011

It is a problem the world over.  You are a giant nerd, but how do you incorporate that nerdiness tastefully into your home decor? You probably shouldn't line up all of your Boba Fett paraphernalia above your T.V. in the living room. Because your husband won't let you.  And you might love to display all of the Star Trek toys you got from Burger King when the new movie came out, but they are Mint in Box in the Attic, and just too much work to retrieve.  And now that you are married it is no longer "appropriate" to line the walls with your posters of David Tennant, Nathan Fillion, and Richard Ayoade.  And your authentic Hogwarts Robes just don't go with the decor.

So, what to do?  Here is what I did:

Built some nerdy Furniture!  Stylish & functional, yet it still subtly displays my love of Sci Fi Cult Films.

The story began when I saw this picture on Pinterest.

Which came from here.   So cute, right?  The only trick was this lucky girl found a couple of old crates at a thrift store and stuck some spiffy wheels onto them.  That is fine and dandy, but what if I don't have the gift for finding neato crates at my local thrift stores?  What if I ain't got no crate to stick no wheels on??  Those were the thoughts, word for word, that were running through my mind when suddenly inspiration struck and I realized I could BUILD MY OWN CRATE.  And you can too!!!  Cuz I am going to tell you how!  I can't help myself.  Doing tutorials is like a drug.  Once you start, you can't stop.  It's irresistible, for a bossy person - telling people what to do and how to do it.    They just can't get enough.  Ok.  Me.  I'm the bossy person.  I can't get enough.  I love telling people what to do.


I would like to start by telling you that this only cost me $3.00 to make, but the truth is I don't have a clue.  Cuz I didn't pay much attention at the time, and I made this like a month ago, and I don't remember that far back.

First of all, I used what I had, which was 3/4 inch plywood.  Which is WAY thicker than it needs to be.  That sucker is heavy!  I would suggest using 3/8 inch plywood, but that makes the math too tricky, so I am going to tell you to make it using 1/2" plywood.

Ok, let's see if I can remember how I did it.    The finished peice is 21" high, with the wheels; 33" wide & 19.5 inches deep.  Several minutes of research and experimentation showed that would be the ideal size for my purposes.  Obviously it will be smaller if you use 1/2 plywood.

Start by cutting your wood.
Of the 1/2" ply wood you'll need 
2 peices 18"x30", 
2 peices 18"x18" and
1 peice 31"x19" (for the bottom).
If you don't have the tools or the inclination to cut at home, they will usually cut it for you at the hardware store.

The trim pieces I used are 3/4"x 2.5".  I THINK that means they are officially called 1x3's.  Maybe.    And you could surely use something thinner or different, but trying to think about what your other options might be and adjusting my measurements to account for thinner trim is just about taxing my brain beyond its capacity.  So let's just assume that the trim you use is 3/4" too, ok?

cut your trim thusly:

4 peices 18" long
4 peices 32.5" long
8 peices 13.5" long

And oh my goodness this is terrifying.  What if you go to the hardware store, buy all your wood, have them cut all your wood and then get home and find it does not fit together?  Is there any way that I won't be held accountable for the things that I write here?


Now Sand.  Everything.  As much as you feel like it.  Sanding is very personal.  And then it is time to start putting it together.  I didn't take pictures along the way, cuz it didn't occur to me.  So I will draw a picture for you, which I'm sure will work almost as good.

You put it together like that, ya shee?  I used a brad nailer to hook the boards together, but screws would probably work better.    And then the bottom peice should just fit right on top of the box you have just created, so screw that in as well.   Then it is time for the trim!  Boy, this sure is coming together quickly!

The trim goes on like this:

Wow, I really suck at this.    Not at drawing, obviously, just at Tutorials.  That is a top view.  OH!  Hey, I DID take a picture before I finished the whole thing.  Maybe this will help?

Not really?  You can see I didn't miter the edges of the trim, I just did it like in the picture.   Yep.   I really suck at this.

So, attach the trim pieces with finishing nails or a brad nailer.  And then if you want it to look all battle scarred and beat up then beat the thing up!  I was going to, but it was so pretty when I got to this point that I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  The poor thing is going to get beaten up enough just living in my house, so I decided to let nature take its course.

Then comes the fun part.  At this point my crate looked like this from the front:

But shipping crates always have a logo or shipping company or something stamped on them, so I had to pick something to put on mine.  I thought it might be fun to make it look like a something intercepted on its way to to Warehouse 13, but while I was looking for shipping images online, this one kept popping up:

Which seemed familiar, but I couldn't place it.   This helped though:

And then I read up on it on the FireflyWiki, and I knew it was the logo I wanted to use.  So I printed it off on my Cricut, used it as a stencil and I spray painted it on.  The logo is not too detailed though.  A dedicated anal person could easily cut it out with an Xacto Knife.

And then I stained the whole thing.  Right over the top of the spray painted logo.   I used Minwax Polyshades in a satin Antique Walnut.

I just did one coat.  It went on so fast and easy.  The hardest part was waiting for it to dry.

Then for the wheels!

The girl who inspired me was inspired by these crates (which don't even have any trim.  You could leave out that whole annoying attaching trim step).

Sold by  She even found a website where you can buy casters in almost any color (  But to me, that crate looks kind of like a box wearing tennis shoes.  Also, the cool casters are about $10.00 a piece.   Too steep for me!  So I was more than happy with these little black ones from Home Depot for about $2.00 a piece.

Just remember to get some screws to go with them.  I forget and had to rummage through the junk drawer at home to find some with the right kind of top in the right length.

Then I screwed them on, one in each corner, just like the pros do, and Tada!  I now have a place to keep all my toys!

And I can get them out and play with them any time I like.  Now I just wish we lived on a hill, cuz that thing is just begging for somebody to go for a ride in it.