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How to make a simple crate

Funny thing about this hobby is that when you start it’s hard to stop thinking about it. Once you start some project or few then you look at the world and surroundings through the eyes of maker. You look at things and instantly translate shapes and textures to - what can i do with it in my little twisted world?

Hi Guys!

This time i will show you how to create very simple “crate/chest”. We can do this in many ways, but let’s not stress ourselves and overwork. I am lazy as hell and when i want to do something i think how i can achieve it in the simplest possible way :) I know most of us think this way...we are humans after all, whole generations worked very hard to develop this priceless ability. Nothing fancy or new here, so pros and veterans will be bored to death but new to the hobby may find something usefull.

To do the crate/chest we will use simple, slim coffee sticks. They give these things for free in the coffee shops...ok, you actually have to buy something, but who doesn’t like coffee.
If you do not like coffe or you need a lot of it you can check internet auction services. I am sure you will find more than enought.

Tools and Materials

We will need very simple tools:

  • exacto knife

  • clippers

  • coffee sticks(about 1mm thick and 5mm wide)

  • small sticks or plasticard pieces 1mmx1mmx1,5cm

  • file

  • glue

  • cardboard or plasticard

  • wire

  • Cylinders and balls of putty. You will see later what i mean.


If you want you can use some additional tools to mark texture to the wood. Sticks are quite soft on the surface so you can engrave some bark patterns.


It is always a good idea to have some sort of plan or guideline of what we would like to do and achieve. First thing what we have to do is to measure how big the chest should be. I placed one of our models(about 35mm high without the base), place the ruler and measure high and wide that would be good for this scale. We do not have to be super precise! This is fantasy, so we have our excuse :) My meassurement for the crate will be:

  • 2cm x 3cm x 1,5 cm

  • There will be 6 sides/walls of the chest

  • We will need 4 sides of 1,5cm x 3cm

  • and 2 sides of 1,5cm x 2cm

  • Our sticks are 0,5cm wide so we will need:

    • 12 pieces of 0,5cm x 3cm to build 4 longer sides

    • 6 pieces of 0,5cm x 2cm to build 2 shorter sides

I know, too much numbers, to much confusion. Just follow me and you will see :)

First we will cut the sticks. To do this it is a good idea to measure our pieces and mark them on wood. Lets start from the longer sides 1,5 cm x 3cm. See below, we need 12 of those pieces.


The wood is fairly soft outside but it has strong and hard core. I use exacto knife to mark the cutting edge from both side. When i hit the hard part, i use clippers to cut out the piece. Every time i do this i clean the cutting edge with the file.

I do the same thing for the shorter pieces. This time we will need 6 of them.


To build each side of the chest i will need some frame. Pieces of plasticard or even simple cardboard will be enough. I glue the wood to the plasticard with fast drying glue but you can use other that will do the job.

Look at the picture below and our measurement should be a little bit clearer.


Now lets glue our walls together.

After gluing we see that thickness of the sticks affected a little overall feeling. Yeah it’s a little out of scale, but not bad either. To hide this we will use some trick - we will add some smaller details. First we will add rimming around the chest.  I use 1x1mm wood. You can get this in hobby stores for ship constructors. You can also use placticard or wood from matches. It is always a good idea to mark everything before going to action.

You can see the effect below. Better doesn’t it?

OK, what can we do more with this. Something small but easy to made at the same time. We will do handles from each side. I will use piece of putty at the middle of the handle. It will also cover the cutting edge of the wire. In the middle of the putty i will drill a little hole. What you see at the picture is rolled out and baked Super Sculpey but you can use green stuff or any other modeling putty.

We also need round handle. Simple trick will do the job - roll wire around some cylinder shape and then cut it in the middle where wire cross.

Bend the wire gently, place cylinder in the conection point and you should achieve something like this.

At the sides i wanted to add a little pins. To do them i cut balls of putty in half and glue them in the corners.

And here is the final result

Cool enough for me :) It looks like one of those big cargo crate/chest that were packed on the ships. Some will say that this is time consuming, probably they’re right, but sometimes it’s good to get your hands dirty and the feeling after all...priceless…:)
I hope some of you found it usefull. Have fun and let us know what you think at: or

Daniel Kałaska