The Easiest Way to Make Wood Look Old and Rustic {DIY Rustic Wood Crate}

I’ve always wondered how people make their wood projects look old and rustic, or if they just bought it that way. And as a photographer, I’m in the prop business as well as being someone who just loves a rustic looking piece of wood as decoration, so I wanted to know if the only way to get this look was to pay the big dollars for antique wood or if I could do it myself. Seeing as I’m a big DIYer, I went to the Internet. I found a lot of great sites that explained how to make wood look rustic, but they typically involved 10 or more steps, several colors of stain and a lot of time for sanding, painting, drying and re-coating.

I thought, why can’t there be one stain to achieve the look I want? And then I stumbled across the answer: Minwax Classic Gray Stain! This is the easiest and quickest way I have found to achieve an old, rustic looking piece of wood for your home, decorative piece, or in my case, a lovely little wood crate for children to sit on or to put babies in :) The end result costed me under $12 to do.

IMG_7260-1 LR rustic looking crate painted with stain

The first thing you need is to go out and buy some Minwax Classic Gray 271 wood stain. I bought a small can of it for around $4.50 and I still have over half left, so you really don’t need much. Grab the wood you want to paint, a brush, plastic or newspaper to lay down under it, and an old rag to dab off any excess stain.

IMG_7226-1 LR Minwax wood gray stain

I bought this wood crate on sale for around $7.00. I saw the potential here immediately, and I got a great deal to boot. Only problem was I didn’t love the color.

IMG_7230-1 LR wood crate

But with a little stain I could get the look I wanted. I grabbed a regular paint brush I found lying around and began to paint. As you apply the stain, make sure you’re dry-brushing it on. You don’t need much. I dabbed my brush on an old rag before applying it to the wood to make sure I didn’t have too much on it. Then I coated the wood and brushed over it several times without putting more stain on my brush to spread it out as much as I could. This will allow the natural wood color to show through.

IMG_7227-1 LR Rustic looking crate

Once the stain dries it will lighten a little. With only one coat, this is the effect I got and it’s just what I wanted.

IMG_7250-1 LR rustic looking crate painted with gray stain

You want the lines, knots and character of the wood to show through, so that’s why it’s important to apply a thin layer. Depending on the effect you want, you can apply more coats as well.

IMG_7254-1 LR rustic looking crate painted with gray stain

To get in the cracks, I used a paper towel and dipped it into the stain to get in all the crevices. You could use a smaller brush, but this was quicker for me.

IMG_7263-1 LR rustic looking crate painted with gray stain

And there you have it! A rustic looking crate for under $12.

IMG_7260-1 LR rustic looking crate painted with stain

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13 thoughts on “The Easiest Way to Make Wood Look Old and Rustic {DIY Rustic Wood Crate}

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  3. Thank you for your post! I appreciate the clear instructions and the great pictures. I bought some unfinished crates on sale at Michaels and the Minwax classic gray stain and followed your instructions exactly. I am so happy with the results! I will be using the crates for a display at a rustic bbq rehearsal dinner for my son.

    1. I’m so glad this worked out for you! It’s so easy to do, which is why I had to share it after trying it myself :) Have a wonderful rehearsal!

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