Upcycling pallets: how to make a bike crate

Sophie's Belleville, with finished crate affixed

Since Sophie purchased her snazzy new bike, a three-speed, step-through ladies’ Trek Belleville, replete with racks on the front and back, she’s been in need of a receptacle to make those racks all the more user-friendly.

This seemed like a perfect opportunity to hone my fledgling carpentry skills as well as implement my passion for upcycling. Some time ago, I’d spied a pallet abandoned outside a shop at the end of our street. The soft, silvery wood looked to me like red cedar, so partner-in-craft Jeremy and I returned later to collect it. Lightweight and easy to work, a bike crate sounded like the perfect use for such fine timber!

A quick glance on Google reveals the many options for bike crate prototypes, as well as the rich variation of fruit crate designs, all of which appear relatively easy to adapt and assemble. Indeed, before embarking on this timber option, I checked to see whether I could simply bolt on a plastic milk crate, but, alas, the rack is too small.

I measured the size of the metal rack first, and decided that the crate should be about 330mm wide, x 280 mm deep and 200 mm high. This seemed modest enough to fit easily in the space required, and also big enough to fit a cake tin, a saucepan, and various other utensils that Soph might like to transport.

I trimmed a piece of plywood (if you’re observant, you can find pallets that are made of plywood, although it might be a bit too heavy-duty for this project) to 300mm x 260mm for the base. I made sure that it was 20mm less on each edge than the total size to allow for the cedar pieces.

A view from the inside, jarrah upright screwed onto base from underneath, and cedar slats screwed into place

The uprights in the corners I made by trimming an old jarrah garden stake into 200mm lengths. I planed these back and then sanded them, and then screwed them firmly in each corner of the plywood base.

Finished corners for the cedar slates, screwed onto the jarrah uprights

I then took my cedar slats and cut them to size – those at the front and back would measure 330mm, while those on the sides would measure 260mm long, allowing the corners to nest together neatly. With a fair amount of sanding and sculpting, I stripped back the silvered layer of the cedar, revealing its rich, reddish grain. I then screwed these in place as shown.

View from beneath: I traced the shape of the metal rack onto the base to determine the location of the bolt holes and any little rubber patches

Finally, I turned over the box, and drew lines to find the centre. Using these lines to position the box, I then traced the metal structure of the rack, indicating where I needed to drill holes to bolt the crate in place. With the rack structure mapped out, I could also identify where to place little squares of rubber to prevent the crate bouncing around on the metal.

Jarrah and cedar, after two coats of timber oil

With a couple of coats of timber oil, the crate was finished ready to be screwed into place!

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Filed under adventures, bikes, crafting, diy

5 responses to “Upcycling pallets: how to make a bike crate

  1. Mary

    Lovely work! Mary

  2. Love it! Fantastic idea, I never ceased to be amazed by the creative ways people utilise other peoples rubbish!

  3. Oh man I want one so bad. I looked into these for ages before settling for an old wicker basket on my back rack. You’ve rounded everything off so nicely! And the cedar! So beautiful. x

  4. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest
    but your sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back down the road. Cheers

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