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Keeping Vintage Wooden Crates Out of Landfills

Posted by WT Admin on
Vintage Recycled Crate End Tables with Drawers

Announcing an original collection made from recycled vintage wooden crates and reclaimed wood. By restoring the iconic graphics and weathered wood into statement furniture, we're extending the life of a mass-produced container format that would otherwise be landfill-bound.

There's something special to us about wooden crates. Maybe it's the simplicity of the thinly slatted, yet surprisingly sturdy open box forms. Maybe, it's the way they moved our favorite produce, beer, pop, snacks, and supplies around the world for decades. It's definitely the classic graphics stamped and painted on the sides. Crates have been a go-to product for our team, from Throwbacks beer and record crates to restoring flea market finds. Searching for the most interesting brands, wood tones, and sizes has become a bit of a hobby. 

A 2021 crate challenge we can get behind.

If you’ve walked the aisles of a flea market or antique shop, you’ve probably noticed it’s not very difficult to find some pretty interesting crates -- some with big name brands, others with eye-catching graphics and lettering promoting the intended cargo. 

Sample crates ready to be recycled in our workshop. 

After decades of use, most companies have shifted to plastic containers in place of wooden crates. There was a big drop off in wooden crate use by farmers and distributors as standards were put in place to keep produce and other goods dry, undamaged, and clean in transport. Plastic bins, though less visually exciting, are also lighter, stackable, less likely to damage cargo, and typically last longer.

Stack of Plastic Crates

Image Source: Creative Commons, Nino Barbieri

In the 2000’s vintage crates made a comeback in interior design, from styling shelves to alphabetizing record collections to countless other organizational and design hacks. 

Woodward Throwbacks Record Crate with Magazines

Photo of our Woodward Throwbacks branded crates made from recycled scrap wood in our workshop.

As most home design trends go, we've started seeing fewer crates adorning shelves and living room floors, but there are still a bountiful number of crates available we’re planning to recycle into reclaimed furniture and decor. 

In our next phase of working with crates, we’re maximizing the classic stamped and painted crate graphics through an original collection -- initially offering statement end tables, though we plan to expand in to other furniture pieces.

By repurposing the vintage branding as drawer facades, our first batch of designs preserve and spotlight the artwork in the form of multi-purpose side and end tables that work in any room of your house. Unlike chain and big box furniture stores, we've never been big on dictating what room our pieces belong in. 

Styled set of four crate end tables in our collection.

What to expect from The Crate Collection. 

We've been stockpiling crates found in the midwest, which means they include iconic and cherished local brands like Vernors, Faygo, and Better Made -- and some other classic brand favorites like Budweiser and Anheuser-Busch (with even more to come!). Given Michigan's almost 10 million acres of farmland, home to roughly 47,600 farms, we've also come across loads of crates for blueberries, apples, apricots, and peaches in our local picking and flea market adventures.

Our first official run includes unique end tables, but we plan to keep this line going for the foreseeable future and have already started working on our next batch -- so stay tuned to our newsletter and instagram for updates!

View the full collection here.

Hope you enjoy the collection and can bring an end table home with you. We'll keep salvaging and working with crates until they run out, which is hopefully never.

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