Chairs made from crates that are better than the chairs shipped in the crates


In the 1930's Dutch furniture designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld made a set of chairs out of crates. He said of his crate chairs:

"A piece of furniture made of high-grade wood and manufactured completely according to traditional production methods is transported in a crate to avoid one has ever ascertained that such a chest embodies an improvised, highly purposeful method of carpentry...there must therefore at long last be someone who chooses the crate rather than the piece of furniture."
Rietveld's grandchildren now sell "Crate Chair Juniors" for $415 each. I wonder what kind of container they are shipped in? Homegrown Evolution thinks it would be pretty easy to use pallet wood to make a crate chair for a lot less.

When the Crate's Better Than the Chair


  1. I’ve built a few things out of pallets. Many are hardwood, so nail extraction is a pain. But when you’re done, you’ve got something heavy enough and solid enough to survive serious abuse. The 400lb doghouse was an eyesore, but darn near indestructible.

    Plus you can use the leftover oak for barbecuing.

  2. Are you seriously suggesting that you could make a passable chair out of wood slats and a handful of nails, using only a saw and a hammer, for LESS than $400?

    Naïve. So naïve.

  3. I like these chairs, but they’re not terribly comfortable: the dimensions are a little smaller than you might expect, and the seat is pretty low. And if you wanted to make one it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put together a couple of foam cushions too.

    The crate tables, though, are damn near perfect.

  4. Most pallets that I have seen are in pretty bad condition. They’re usually made of the cheapest wood available and are frequently knotted, warped, cracked, etc. Yes, you can make furniture, even nice furniture, from them, but it will take you a long time and a lot of sanding and/or machining.

  5. You can make nice furniture out of just about any wood, but you won’t make something comparable to this, with large planks for back, side, etc., out of raw pallets. The pieces are usually just too small and thin for this. Now, you could very easily do something similar, but I think the technique would be a lot more involved, as you would have to plane the wood and then glue the pieces together to make larger parts. In the end it might be very very nice, but it would be a lot more involved than this looks.

  6. $415 seems pricey, even for something that looks like it came from the Arts and Crafts movement. I own a fair amount of Stickley furniture, which is by no means cheap, but it is solid oak or cherry, built in traditional ways, and designed to last well into my grandkids lifetime. The only nails it might have would be to hold the backing on a cabinet…

    And it certainly doesn’t come in “colors”…

  7. I can tell you from hard experience that pallets are built out of the cheapest possible wood, and are assembled with nails that are ridiculously difficult to pull out. The designer wanted “pallet wood”, so I spent the better part of a day pulling three pallets apart. It was a disaster.

    I’ve built lots of shipping crates and those were mostly 2x8s, nothing fancy and plentiful in lots of other places than just crates. (Goods that are crated in S.E. Asia are a different story though, as the cheapest wood available there is still an exotic rainforest wood in the States!)

  8. Small children have known for years that the packaging is generally better than the contents. Glad to hear the Dutch partook of this wisdom alsho.

  9. Yes, salvaging wood from pallets is challenging. However, with one of those cast iron nail pullers, you’ll either be able to extract the nails or strip their heads off. Either way, you’ll then be able to pry the planks from the studs with relative(!?) ease.

    The biggest challenge is always collecting enough wood of the same size/dimension to attempt a project.

    –Dave E.

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