Asked on Aug 02, 2013

Sealing/smoothing crate wood

Jessica Hill
by Jessica Hill
I am turning the sides of an old wooden crate into a coffee table top. The wood is similar to pallet wood: unfinished and prone to giving splinters. How might I go about sanding/sealing it so that it won't be dangerous to the touch? Thanks for any help you could give!
The crate in question
A closer instagram pic of the wood
  30 answers
  • Colleen Colleen on Aug 02, 2013
    A power sander is the best way to go. 100 grit and then 220 and it should be super smooth. Love pallet wood!
  • Colleen Colleen on Aug 02, 2013
    ...several coats of poly after that.
  • Spheramid Enterprises Spheramid Enterprises on Aug 03, 2013
    Briwax. Just give it all an inline sanding ( with the grain, no orbital) and rag on a LIGHT coat of the wax. When it has hazed over use a STIFF brush , a shoe scrub brush works very well, buff/scrub it also in the direction of the grain. Pro antique people have used this for decades. It's fast ,easy, repairable ( poly is NOT easy repaired) and appropriate for this. It also comes in tinted shades and can be layered or mixed.
  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on Aug 03, 2013
    @Spheramid Enterprises BRIWAX??? Ahhhhhh another LOVER of BRIWAX!!! Thank Goodness, I'm not all alone anymore!!!! YAY!!!!!! I've used it for well past 25 years and so have my peers. We swear by it. You are the FIRST person here on Hometalk other than myself to appreciate the wonderful qualities that Briwax has to offer!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxooxox
  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on Aug 03, 2013
    And here is the website!!!
  • Laura Ruthemeyer Laura Ruthemeyer on Aug 03, 2013
    So many Briwax products! I'd never heard of it, and now must have it! Is there a tutorial out there somewhere on which product to use for pallets, crates and wooden fencing - I made a 'garden' headboard for the guest room out of a panel of fencing :)
  • Spheramid Enterprises Spheramid Enterprises on Aug 03, 2013
    @Laura Ruthemeyer all you need is the original, in the squat round can, and a shoe shine brush..that simple. Wipe it on, wait, brush. Oh, it REALLY is potent smelling..go outside with it ( not in sun) or open windows and have a fan blowing..or suffer a nasty headache.
  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on Aug 03, 2013
    @Laura Ruthemeyer Yes by all means get the Original, to start with. You won't be sorry! The best "Tip" I can give you is USE IT SPARINGLY!. Seriously, a little goes a long way. So sand, then wipe every bit of grime away. Grab an old soft cotton rag, dip LIGHTLY into the Briwax, and wipe it on the piece. Let it get a film or as Spheramid describes a 'haze'. Then use VERY FINE steel wool and then another cotton rag for buffing to a wonderful polished finish. This should get you going in the right direction. Hope you try it, perhaps on a small piece at first, to see if you like the process and the results. You can always email me for help along the way. Also, I don't have any for sale right now and won't until we re-open our biz, however check Ebay. It's selling there for a reasonable price point. xo
  • Laura Ruthemeyer Laura Ruthemeyer on Aug 04, 2013
    Thank you!! I have a covered carport for those type of 'stinky' projects :) Can't wait to give it a go!
  • Laura Ruthemeyer Laura Ruthemeyer on Aug 04, 2013
    @Sia Thank you! I have a bunch of scrap pieces to practice on.. :D
  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on Aug 04, 2013
    @Laura You are most welcome! Have fun, and let us know how it goes for you! xo
  • Jessica Hill Jessica Hill on Aug 04, 2013
    I wish I could use Briwax on my project, but it looks like they don't sell it in MI. :(
  • I would sand with 80 grit first, use whatever type sander you want as it is only pallet wood not fine cherry or oak (don't forget the edges) then I would hand sand with 150 then 220.....don't forget to wipe with mineral spirits between each sanding then stain if you want (if you stain then don't use the 220 as it will not accept as much stain) use a SPAR urethane that is waterproof if your using it for a table that way you don't have to worry about rings left behind....put on a thick coat for the first layer and when it dries (24 hours) sand with 320 grit and wipe with mineral spirits again then put a couple of spray coats of the SPAR urethane on wiping between coats with spirits. Last coat gets LIGHT sand with 1000 grit and a final wipe with spirits. This is our standard procedure with any tables that are redone. NOTE: fine woods are sanded in the direction of the grain. BTW definitely use in well ventilated area...!!!
    • Spheramid Enterprises Spheramid Enterprises on Aug 09, 2013
      @Vintage Restorations.....Formerly Closet Furniture I couldn't disagree more, never start with a heavy coat of spar or most finishes, always thin the first coat of most urethanes and even shellac. And 1000 grit is for auto finishes, not crate wood projects..complete waste of time and money, it's not a Steinway.
  • Well i must be doing something right i'm 3 months out with work and have another 2 months in queue.......Everything we do is a "Steinway" and guaranteed for life. We are famous for our finishes. Our company mantra is "Good enough Is not Good Enough, Perfection is Good Enough" if you don't want to make it perfect put a piece of glass on it...BTW we have never had a complaint with the exception that something took too long.
  • Spheramid Enterprises Spheramid Enterprises on Aug 10, 2013
    Yeah, what ever, you JUST said " It's ONLY pallet wood, not fine cherry or furniture" and then describe an over the top finish plan. Just because you have work doesn't mean it's the right work. And mantras are just a lot of talk aren't they? That's the point of a mantra. I read it as she is stying to maintain some rustic character and possibly the distressed parts.why polish all that away and turn it into a glossy eye sore? Pallet/crate style isn't glossy, if anything, it's done in what is called starved finish look, as if it has none but patina. But hey, whatever floats your boat. And read the can of spar or any finishing book, you thin the first coat most often.
  • Get up on the other side of the bed tomorrow...... I never did follow directions very do it your way and I'll do it mine
  • Just an FYI...The reason that I put a thick "first coat" on and work it in with a brush is because once you put a coat of poly on "Nothing" is going any deeper than that initial is sealed from that point on. I would rather build up from a good base coat with thinner spray coats over it than starting with a thin coat and building on that...the old "build a better basement" theory.
  • Spheramid Enterprises Spheramid Enterprises on Aug 11, 2013
    Wrong again.
  • Spheramid Enterprises Spheramid Enterprises on Aug 11, 2013
    sure until the wrong methods ruin a project.
  • Well, ok then...Speechless, I have to go down and stain and polyurethane a desk for a threepeat customer. Never did like water based products much......only use oils and I'm done with you.
  • William Gabbard William Gabbard on Aug 12, 2013
    All this child type behavior isn't needed. Jessica ask for help not a chance to listen to people argue. There are always going to be differing ways and opinions of doing things but you can be adults about it. No one cares how long you have done something or if you have a masters degree. Just give your input and leave it at that!
  • SUE HOGAN SUE HOGAN on Aug 12, 2013
  • Agreed William, i was trying to do just that....offer my way of putting a finish on something. I treat all wood the same....will try not to get sucked in next time, but sometimes you have to explain your opinion/methods to clarify.
  • Val Val on Jan 24, 2014
    Hi Jessica. If you haven't yet found a way to get the smooth finish that you'd like on your crate I may have a helpful answer for you. Val
  • Deb K Deb K on Jul 04, 2023

    Hi Jessica, hope this helps you out.

    Using a clean, high quality synthetic bristle brush, apply the polyurethane to the crate using long, even strokes in the direction of the wood grain. FINISH: Let the crate cure for 48 hours before light use, and seven days before heavier use.

  • Sand with different grit sandpaper until it is smooth. Then you can seal with polycrylic.

  • Janice Janice on Oct 11, 2023

    Sand with a coarse grit such 80 to really dig in and smooth the splinters and general roughness then advance to a finer paper such as 120, then on and on until you reach the texture you want. Some fine furniture has been sanded using 220 grit paper. After sanding well and to suit you, you can then either stain the piece or leave as is and seal to prevent damage to the surface by spraying or brushing on a clear poly finish. Sounds like a great project and conversation piece for your home.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Mar 24, 2024

    Has anyone used Tung oil on wooden crates? I am in the sanding process and will stack them as a night stand.

  • So I would sand it well and coat it with several strong coats of poly. However, if you are still concerned about splinters or you want to add a bit of flair, you could get some rice paper and decoupage it on the top. Then coat it will poly again to protect it during use. It's a fun way to update a piece and easy to do. Here's how.