DIY Bike Porter Crate

To end our May Bike month, we asked Alison Lucien of Eleanor’s, a Brooklyn bike shop specializing in stylish bike details, to show us how to amp up our bike style. Launched in 2012, Eleanor’s is named after Alison and her husband’s grandmothers, who shared a name, an enthusiasm for bicycling and fashion sense. Alison spent ten-years in the fashion industry, and was so frustrated that she couldn’t find the right accessories to compliment her vintage Schwinn, that she started Eleanor’s. Here at Design*Sponge, we have a bad habit of buying up vintage crates at flea markets – and in our defense, we do somehow mange to find uses for most of them. But this has to be one of my favorite uses for a vintage crate. –Amy Azzarito



  • electric drill
  • nylon brush
  • white cloth
  • plastic gloves
  • screw driver & wrench

Step 1: Select a vintage box preferable the size of a soda crate or food box measuring about 16 inches by 11 inches by 9 1/2 inches and less then 5 pounds. NOTE: When selecting an older box, look for dry rot, water logging, evidence that a few termites or ants made it their lunch in the past, or other obvious signs of structural weakening of the wood.

Step 2: Use the nylon brush to rid the crate of any dirt, cobwebs or dust.

Step 3: Seal the crate, both for aesthetics and for weather
proofing. Grab an old T-shirt or other soft rag. Ball it up so it looks sorta like a lump of pizza dough, and moisten it with the Tung Oil. Generously apply the oil to the surface of the crate. Blot when you
get close to designs. Most of the designs are just surface stamping, and wiping will smudge the ink.

Step 4: Let the crate dry for at least 24 to 48 hours. Repeat the sealing process until oils no longer are absorbing into the wood and begin to pool on the surface (anywhere between 2 to 6 coats). Wipe off any excess oil (unless you like the shiny look.)

Step 5: Once dry and sealed, you’re ready to attach the finished product to your bike. We used a standard metal rear-rack assembly available on our site here or at most bike shops. Attach the rear rack to the back according to instructions.

Step 6: Grab the mending plates, bolts and nuts. (Links above) Place the oiled crate upside down and drill four holes aligned with the holes in the mending plates. The easiest way to do this is to mark the position of the plates with the crate on the race, then remove and flip it over, laying the mending plate on the underside of the crate to mark the hole position. Most mending plates have uneven hole positions, so use the plate as your template.

Step 7:  All that’s left is to tighten the mending plate under the rack and the crate. It’s important that you tighten the nuts the same way you’d tighten lug nuts on a car. Use a round-robin process so that you get an even, snug fit.

  1. ali thompson says:

    this is fantastic. i love it.

  2. aley says:

    How cute! Now all I need is the bike ;)


  3. robin says:

    I have the same crate!

  4. very cool! I think I’m going to do this for my husband’s bike for father’s day!

  5. Dominique says:

    Cute, but only practical if you have a step through bike. If you have to swing your leg around the back to get on, then good luck!

  6. Katy says:

    Oh the irony, I was just thinking how unfair it was that we don’t seem to find those kinds of crates here, and where is this one from? The very city I’m sitting in right now!

  7. Coby says:

    What a neat idea! Finding a great box to use will be the hard part…

  8. Jess says:

    Such a cool project! Loving the front basket, too. Where is it from?

  9. KMP Modern says:

    OMG, I love this project. How amazing is this and it seems pretty easy. I am always looking for ways to use vintage crates. I love them but never know what to do with them except storage around the house. A bike crate is such a marvelous idea, way better than a basket! Thanks for posting!

  10. kevenjacobs says:

    I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS IDEA. soooo cute. will be bookmarking it!


  11. Thank you for this dye! It is really great, and I adore the look of this basket ! Virginie (a French girl)

  12. Hayley says:

    Very, very nice! I’d love to find a crate like yours, but that it going to prove very difficult. It looks so vintage! Do you have any alternatives you could recommend instead of tung oil?

  13. Such a cute idea. This would give any bike a great vintage look.

  14. Gail says:

    It’s great, but it would be even better to give full instructions that correspond with the photos – those four washers are not mentioned anywhere in the text…

  15. Emily says:

    I love this look!

  16. Amanda says:

    Beautiful Project! Tung Oil can be pretty flammable though (can spontaneously combust I think, if left in a rag on a hot day) so my only addendum would be to dispose of the rag properly. Gorgeous!

  17. Emily says:

    I love the basket on the front of the bike! Who makes it?

  18. Teresa T says:

    I have this exact bike! I need that basket… please tell us where it’s from!

  19. Margaret says:

    Love this tutorial! We even gave it a shoutout on our blog 2Rummage4!

  20. Monni says:

    I want this for my girlfriend!


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