LumberJocks

Stackable Crates

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Project by Don Broussard posted 06-18-2012 07:14 PM 3472 views 10 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made one of these boxes as a prototype stackable crate. The overall dimensions are roughly a 16” cube. You will note that the slats on the sides are really sliding dovetails cut at a 9 degree angle (I might use a larger angle, like a 12-15 degree angle, on the next set of crates). The wide part of the sliding dovetail is 1-1/4”. My idea is that the adjacent crate’s side will slide into its mate—the slats are offset by a whole dovetail on each side, so they could be mated up to store stuff with the bottom down (as shown in the first picture) or horizontally with the “top” open for storage like large open cubby holes. The other sides and the bottom are 3/4” plywood. The bottom and sides are joined by a rabbet joint.

I plan to make another crate to show how they mate. It’s hard to describe, but hopefully, I will be able to demonstrate that via pictures once I make the next crate.

I plan to use these in the shop for hand tool storage, and as toy storage when our grandchild gets older.

UPDATE: I made a second crate, intending to show how they mate up (Pictures 3 and 4). Unfortunately, matching up all the sliding dovetails at one time proved too difficult. I have added a couple of pictures showing the concept, but not the execution. While I like the idea, I might change the design to include a different interlocking method. Any ideas?

UPDATE 2: I adjusted the slats and got the two boxes to mate up (Pictures 5 and 6). The sliding dovetails are hard to align and mate up. I had to use a little more force than expected—the boxes may not come apart. Next time, I will try the French cleat. Thanks again for the comments and the ideas.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!





14 comments so far

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

260 posts in 1937 days


#1 posted 06-18-2012 07:28 PM

Very clever idea!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

15077 posts in 2424 days


#2 posted 06-19-2012 05:34 AM

Just taper the ends a little so they are easier to mate up.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4163 posts in 1605 days


#3 posted 06-19-2012 10:04 AM

Now that is thinking “Outside the Box”

Great idea

Jamie

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Hadders's profile

Hadders

8 posts in 989 days


#4 posted 06-19-2012 10:35 AM

Fantastic idea and a timely one for me as about to move house. Looks like I’m spending the next few weeks making as many crates as possible. Good point from Topa on tapering the ends.

Hadders

-- Hadders - "Arghh! Where's my persuader?"

View workerinwood's profile

workerinwood

2715 posts in 1816 days


#5 posted 06-19-2012 01:16 PM

Great job! Very useful.

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View DamnYankee's profile

DamnYankee

3240 posts in 1310 days


#6 posted 06-19-2012 01:26 PM

A jig for spacing. I think it would work better/easier if the dovetailed slats were a bit loser than your typical dovetail. Given the length of the slats a tight dovetail would likely prove tough to align when putting two boxes together and portentially even tougher to pull them apart. I think your idea of a 12 or 15 degree would allow for the slats to “lock” without being overly tight if they are spaced with about a 1/64 clearance between slats.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Michael Wilson's profile

Michael Wilson

587 posts in 1239 days


#7 posted 06-19-2012 02:25 PM

I love the dovetail idea. But yeah, a jig of some kind to space them correctly is probably necessary.

That aside, straight box joints would be my next best bet.

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

2136 posts in 1000 days


#8 posted 06-19-2012 02:39 PM

Thanks for the good feedback. I am pretty sure that my issue is with alignment of the adjacent edges. I actually mated the adjacent sides into each other (rather than making a jig) and then temporarily joined them together with two vertical members across all the slats. I had to use a hammer to knock them out to build the other crate, so I knew I would have a problem mating them up. By the way, I used material on hand to make the crates, so the second one has pressed board slats—they do not take screws very well, even though I predrilled the screw holes!

After considering the comments, I am thinking now about just making one dovetail with a 15 degree angle on each mating edge, and just putting square-edged slats in between. The two dovetails would oppose each other to lock in. I will also sand the edges of the sliding dovetails and rub some beeswax on them to ease making up the connection.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View RTex's profile

RTex

35 posts in 1512 days


#9 posted 06-19-2012 04:53 PM

Have you considered using a type of French cleat instead of dovetails? Make one side a receiver and the other side the hanger. Then you can alternate sides of several boxes to fit.

-- RTex, Wood Wranglin' Cowboy

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

2136 posts in 1000 days


#10 posted 06-19-2012 05:21 PM

Coincidentally, I just watched a Wood Whisperer Mini about French cleats for storage hanging. I think that might work better as the interlocking mechanism instead of the sliding dovetail. One at the top and one at the bottom should work, with rectangular slats in between.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View clieb91's profile

clieb91

3313 posts in 2683 days


#11 posted 06-21-2012 09:06 PM

Don, Nicely done. I just recently made some smaller crates for our new craft show display, did not think about being able to interlock them I think I am going to do that with another set in the future. Look forward to seeing the next version from ya.

CtL

-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- PortablePastimes.com (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

15077 posts in 2424 days


#12 posted 06-22-2012 12:43 AM

I would just put a one sided tapering dovetail on each end. It would lock up solid and be easy top align ;-)

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Tooch's profile

Tooch

694 posts in 624 days


#13 posted 11-07-2013 07:46 PM

Thats really cool- I couldn’t tell from your photos but do they stack vertically?

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

2136 posts in 1000 days


#14 posted 11-09-2013 05:19 AM

@Tooch—There is no rabbet in the bottoms to accept another crate, but that could be done pretty easily before assembly.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

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