DIY Produce Storage Bins

Turn your pantry or basement into a portable storehouse with fresh crops stashed in these stackable produce storage bins. The plans offer two versions of DIY storage bins: tall and short. Best of all, these pantry storage containers can be easily moved from the garden to the house and back again.

| August/September 2014

These inexpensive, stackable produce storage bins are designed for bringing in the harvest from your garden or the local farmers market. They stack together so you can store your crops neatly. The basic design produces a 14-inch-high bin measuring about 16 inches wide by 26 inches long, with a slatted base for good air circulation in the cool, dark and damp conditions of basements or root cellars.

We also include specifications for how to build a wooden crate that’s shorter and more suitable for storing vegetables in a pantry or closet. Standing about 10 inches high, these bins are easier to move than the tall bins when fully loaded with produce. If you plan to use these DIY storage bins in your kitchen or pantry, you can opt to make them with solid plywood bottoms to prevent vegetables from dropping dirt as you carry bins of freshly harvested produce into your house. (Find recommended storage conditions in Food Storage: 20 Crops That Keep and How to Store Them.)

If you prefer a taller, all-in-one unit that’s not stackable, check out the storage rack with pull-out shelves in the  Slideshow.

How to Build a Wooden Crate

Simple tools, common materials and basic building skills are all you need to make these produce storage bins. Lightness and strength are their standout features because they’re made mostly of standard cedar fence boards. Stocked at every building supply outlet, such boards are lightweight, long lasting and easy to work with. Typically marketed as “3/4-inch thick,” commercial cedar fence boards actually measure only 5/8-inch — perfect for this project. You can construct the uprights from 1-1/2-inch square stock and the handles from 3/4-inch-thick hardwood.

Make your first cuts. To begin, you’ll need to cut all the side boards, end boards, slats uprights and handles for as many pantry storage containers as you intend to build. The cutting list (found later in this article) provides measurements for individual pieces as well as the total lumber needed for each size of crate. You can make them longer and wider if you prefer — just adjust the cutting list measurements.

Consider setting up a sawing assembly line in your home workshop to speed up your work. A stop block with a miter saw in one powerful way to cut all components to precise lengths. Prepare some kind of out-feed support or table, and clamp a block to the support so it will stop your wood at exactly the right point for crosscutting. Your setup time will be minimal, and you’ll be happy with the results: fast, perfectly consistent cutting.

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