I feel that I’ll be ridiculed for mentioning this, but I bought a milk crate from Home Depot.
Actually, I liked it so much, I bought two.
A couple of weeks ago, I had been putting together a 2-week dry goods food kit, in case anyone in our household tested positive for the new coronavirus and we were all quarantined. But… where would the food go? I needed a good container for a couple of cans, extra dry pasta, and two cartons of soup, and the pantry was full.
So, I put it all into two 2-gallon buckets I had picked up last holiday season. That seemed… clunky.
I was browsing at the local Home Depot for some new storage containers when I came across a standard-sized 13″ x 13″ x 11″ tall milk crate. This seemed perfect, both for short-term need and long-term tool and part storage, so I bought one.
I was at a different Home Depot store the next day and bought a second one.
These crates are strong and stackable. Handles on all four sides make for convenient lifting.
As to why I feel like some might ridicule me for this, I imagine the voices will scoff and say “why didn’t you just get some for free.” Free? From where?
While the price might seem a tad high, I feel it’s quite reasonable for the sturdiness of the milk crates, especially compared to various flimsy thin plastic storage boxes marketed to consumers.
Price: $9 each
Buy Now via Home Depot
See Also: Muscle Rack Crates via Amazon
Note: One of my stores had these milk crates for $9 each, the other had them for $7. The online price is $9, but in-store prices might vary, which can be true for other products as well.
This brand is GSC technologies, but there are others. I like these crates so much (so far at least) and will be looking into ordering more from this brand or another. You can also find longer milk crates, but I like the square shape of these.
They’re made in the USA.
Some of the holes will require a little attention to remove waste plastic, but it’s not a big deal.
I have a couple of lighter duty Sterilite crates that I bought at Target 10 years ago, and they’re holding up fine but they’re not well-suited for heavy loads at all. They have thin handles and light construction. They’re still holding up well, however, but these milk crates are better.
You can buy the Sterilite crates online, but with shipping fees “baked in.” You could look at Target’s mid-summer college essentials displays, which is when and where I’ve seen these crates in the years since I bought mine. Mine still have their ’09 marketing stickers on them, which is how I know they’ve been with me for 10 years.
Milk crates can be difficult to get “free.” Most are stamped with brand name, and say if found anywhere else it was stolen, or some effect. We had a gas station, and ended up with a few in the end. Very useful, especially for stuff you want to breathe.
The BEST use, is in a deep chest freezer. Makes finding stuff so much easier.
Holy smokes, I never thought about using them in a deep chest freezer. That’s a really good idea assuming the plastic doesn’t crack easily at those temps.
I use the same strategy in a tool box I made for my truck. It’s divided by a space down the middle so I can park the front wheel of my dirtbike there and still close the tailgate. The two sides of the box are quite large so I store all the small stuff in milk crates (e.g. tie-downs, hitch balls, jumper cables, a tow chain etc) so I can quickly pull them out for easy access.
I work at a butcher shop and restaurant and we’ve been keeping the same milk crate in our chest freezer for months with no problem!
Add me to the list of milk crate users my buddy works at a plastic molding plant and he gets rejects all the time they just grind off the name and let them go
How old are you?!?!? Just kidding I just bought the Milwaukee version, for considerably more. I also have a version made by Ridgid. When my Dad and I were installing cabinets, they were a good work platform, now 3rd hands prop alot of those things.
Oh, I have some Packout crates too, and yes at considerably higher cost unfortunately. I don’t see these as replacements for Packout, but as complementary perhaps? I’ll be using the crates for completely different purposes.
Depends on use.
The Tough System totes are far and away tougher than milk crates and hold longer tools like pry bars without sticking out the top, stack, and have ears to clip them together. I’ve even “field tested” one that wasn’t clipped in as a gust of wind grabbed it going down a highway at 70 MPH and launched it out the back of the truck. When I looped back around to retrieve what was left of it, all I could find is a small scuff that you really couldn’t tell was not job site wear and tear. BUT we’re talking around $30 on sale vs $10. Still these are my “go to’s”. My milk crates which came from a time when we could still get milk delivered in glass bottles all hold various things and are stacked at the house. I don’t use them on the job anymore.
BUT depending on the job not everything might fit in one tote, and I might not make it back to the shop to pick up the next couple day’s stuff. Or it’s now past quitting time on a job and I’m exhausted and I really don’t want to spend another half hour on the job just sorting and putting everything away when I’ll have time another day to clean out the van.
That’s when the folding crates come in. They take up very little space when not needed. I can stuff them under/behind a shelving unit. When I need them I can just fold one and load it up. On sale they run a little more than the milk crates but they hold more. Only complaint is they’re not as sturdy but I need the space so I’m ok with them.
Speaking of Home Depot…mine had the $129.99 pack out bottom box with dolly for $65.04!! I wheeled one around the store but ultimately returned it bc…well, I really just don’t need it..crazy price though.
I would post a pic of the price if I could figure out how 🙂
I’ve been using folding crates like these https://www.plastic-crate.com/product/new-style-clever-folding-crates/ for several years. I got mine at Costco. It is nice to be able to fold them flat when not in use and it allows me to keep 1 or 2 in the back of the car.
I’ve got some folding crates too, and like them a lot, but they weren’t as fitting for my current needs. Mine stack together albeit not very nicely, and I even bought a cart for them.
I’ll be buying one or two folding crates soon. They seem really useful and I’ll likely keep one in my car as well.
No ridicule. You’re just clearly a better person than me.
I wasn’t implying that people steel milk crates – although I’m sure some people “liberate” milk crates I always assumed those that advocated free crates simply picked them up on Craigslist or had them leftover from somewhere.
The Container Store has them on sale from time to time:
Crates were “the thing” when my kids went off to college in the ’90’s – but I noticed back then that what you could buy were not as sturdy as the genuine article from the dairies.
“…what you could buy were not as sturdy as the genuine article from the dairies.”
This. I can’t speak for these exact ones, but I’ve next seen any for sale that compared to the “official” ones that I got years ago from my parents.
They are made from of a couple of different plastics. The best ones are of a VERY impact-resistant type.
Our back yard touches a river that runs through a pretty large town. Milk crates wash up on our property all the time. I have tons of them. I love how they stack, and are strong enough to put heavy stuff in.
Koko the Talking Ape
Yep, they’re handy, and can take a lot of abuse. But they are designed only to take a heavy load with the open side up. If you stack them with the open side down or to the side, as we all did to store our records, they will sag, sometimes so much that they won’t stack properly.
I prefer Rubbermaid roughneck Totes.
I’ve stopped buying RoughNeck totes and switched to Sterilite. They’re okay most of the time, but can deform in heat when loaded.
I never stack mine. Entire garage is Intermetro restaurant shelving so each tote gets it’s own shelf.
I save the lids but never use them.
I was going to add getting genuine sturdy milk crate which is meant for more than 50 lbs is actually hard to get for “free”.
short of actually pulling them from the back of a quick mart or grocery etc. So I’m surprised HD sells some, and just as surprised they aren’t more than 15 dollars each.
Made in the US is just as much a surprise.
I need to get 4 for planters. Side track to your other thread but I plan on making a set of planters and using milk crates with landscape fabric as the soil holder. I see a number of reports where it works very well, and is quite good for an herbal garden as you can rotate crates without touching the rest of the planter.
I’ll also pause here and say I’ve watched a lot of Ask This Old House lately.
There was a period when I was pulling wire off a few small reels at many field locations, the biggest reel was 10″ and the smallest was 4″ maybe. For a while there was a bug in my mind that there was an easy, mindless solution to carrying & using these reels.
It finally snapped into focus: Milk crate, a couple pieces of conduit (cut to fit on the bottom diagonally, but still) long enough to act as perpendicular spindles. Real flexibility in fitting several reels as needed.
Milk crate reel carrier was one of the more sublime solutions ever…
I was born in the early 80’s. I have dozens upon dozens of these to this day. Yes, the old fashioned “Do not Take” ones. There is NO SHAME in having them. Store them ANYWHERE, with ANYTHING in them you need. I actually built a simple shoe rack in my room out of a stack of them on their side. I zip-tied a post, with a dowel T-Bar across the top to LITERALLY hang my hat on at the end of a day.
Shelving, Storage, Structural Assist, Temporary placements… The uses are infinite, especially when you build things onto, around, or in them. $9? And you just have a blank, uniform colour along side others on the project? Worth it. The free ones range in colours, and if you’re intent on making shelving permanent out of them, finding all of them for free, AND the same identical colour and design? Gets magnificently difficult.
Go for it. Get the Milk Crates. Might as well be Adult Lego Bricks. Hell, when I move my TV onto the wall, I intend to attach a couple of milk crates to the wall as well, to hold the PVR and Blu-Ray Player. For THAT project? I may well go to Home Depot (Assuming I’m allowed out of self-isolation by my doctor. Diabetic, therefore immunocompromised.) and get a few of those MYSELF. Or… If they’re offered online, I may buy them that way… either way… Milk Crates are an essential, versatile, utilitarian building supply. They’re never out of place.
i have a bunch of them but major problem is few of them are a consistent size to stack
Nicked a few in college when they were set next to the recycling and trash dumpster bins. Figured they were fair game just like items on the curb are. Later picked up a job at a gas station and Coke crates were to be stacked in the dumpster area. I’m unsure if it was ok to take them, but I’m not going to feel bad about it.
Currently my crates are holding all the unboxed 4×4 tiles I bought at the Habitat ReStore for a kitchen backsplash, but they were also great for moving books and holding the dog’s tennis balls.
I’m afraid we are all a bit on that slippery slope where we accept compromising our morals or integrity. We probably agree that lies are not right – but little white lies are OK? Don’t steal – but maybe don’t try to return stuff that happens to be lying around. Sometimes when we were on a large jobsite with lots of sub-contractors – I’d get a chuckle about how many different utility names I’d seen on the traffic cones that were in use – none of which were bought by their users. I guess we all pay for this light-fingered behavior – either in higher milk prices, add-ons to our utility bills etc. When I ran a business – inventory shrinkage and concomitant write-offs were a fact of life – but we did not have to like it.
I use these quite a bit for tool storage. They take the place of tool bags and hard blown cases for things like my orbital sander and paper, circular saw, car cleaning supplies, ropes/chains, extension cords, older corded … generally pretty useful.
As an added bonus, they tend to fit well between the studs of 16″ OC walls. I have mine on a 12″ shelf in may garage nestled between the studs. Makes for uniform spacing and less clutter.
Used to work in grocery and can’t find a buyable one right now but we used to have some really nice ones. Held 6 gallons and had a piece of metal all the way around the top like an inch down for reinforcement. Used to toss them around and stack 5-6 high full and never saw one buckle. I imagine though they were easily triple the price though of the HD version. Barely found a site with a picture of an older but certainly the same style: https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-watts-hardy-watts-hardy-dairy-1734116350
Figures, found a site that sells them but that shipping…
Milk crates are surprisingly durable. Years ago I lived in a major US city, and we discovered one morning that thieves had stolen all four wheels off of a Honda S2000 belonging to a roommate and left the car propped up on two milk crates. The crates held the load no problem, and I still use them to this day. That said, I do not recommend this method for getting milk crates for free.
I carry a collapsible crate from Costco in the back of my truck, it’s really useful for keeping random items (such as groceries) from rolling around the bad.
I’d recommend checking Craigslist for those who are interested. In Southern California there are a few different people who seem to have a fairly substantial stock of these available.
I thought they were album crates.
What’s an “album”?
Not all milk crates are created equal. Container store milk crates are lower quality than actual industry purpose built milk crates. I use black ones in my truck for emergency items all the time.
Plastic is…….., well, plastic.
Try to find some old metal ones.
Straight from NJ:
While not exactly the same as above, they look like the real deal and I have an order on the way.
Square or rectangular?
They’re not black nor red with some TTI logo … and HD sells them?!
I bought a dozen red ones from milkcratesdirect.com
They make them in NJ for dairies and have a few different sizes and I think I made need some more!
Ridiculous? Not at all.
I bought 10 of them in different colors last year, ordered from Tractor Supply. My wife puts a 7 gallon Grow Bag (5 pack/$13 Amazon) in the crate which gives it a firm frame and makes it easy for moving. Maybe not a super elegant planter but very versatile and easy to empty out and replant each season.
I also use to have one on the back rack of a motorcycle. Great for shopping trips and easy to bungee cord odd shaped object to.
I had one in college to hold records (vinyl LPs) … long long ago.
I find them everywhere…flea markets, empty lots, junk stores, yard sales…along with flip lid totes, they are my favorite way to store things…Also an industry standard in film production for carrying equipment. Some of you would get a kick out of the welded steel carts that roll around on sets stacked with crates of equipment. http://studiocarts.com/product/studio-seven-crate-cart-model-scc/
I didn’t realize the 1/2 height crates were a standard in the film industry. I thought they were a European thing based on this woman’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbEQUBWTEPw
Duluth Trading sells some high quality ones and they have frequent sales and coupons. They also have a milk crate organizer just like their original bucket organizer.
Chucking another link onto this growing pile of sources for milk crates.
One thing I use my milk crates for: transporting Propane bottles from my grill when they need to get refilled. Perfect size and the bottles will not tip over.
We do that as well. Excellent use for them. Also great for grocery items you don’t want rolling around.
If you know a pool guy you can get chlorine crates. They are super sturdy.
These (http://www.idairycrates.com/) are great, I’ve used the double size in the deep freeze for years, they look and feel exactly the same as when i put them in. They also sell on amazon, and you can get colors for different things.
Farmplast is also the company behind https://www.milkcratesdirect.com/ .
My best source for those was a buddy that works for a “beverage” (i.e., beer haha) distributor. Every once in awhile, he’ll throw a crate my way. The fit quite well on those chromed wire racks, sticking out a couple of inches past the front ledge which actually kind of increases storage capacity (or at least makes up for the room it takes on the rack).
Best use for one of these crates so far? A couple of years back I won the craftsman/B&D multi-head tool you had on here as a GAW and it comes with all these different heads that are awkward to store. They all go in the crate and I have a home for the system. By far I get most use out of the handy inflator pump head followed by the 4-1/2″ circ saw for super quick rough cuts in things like wood stakes or craft projects for the kids. Thanks again!
I didn’t realize you could actually buy the legit dairy company milk crates. I’ve only seen those chintzy knock off crates that fall apart at Home Depot. I really hate buying anything that’s plastic that I think may break with reasonable use/abuse. I mean the stuffs not going away anytime soon.
I’d love to get me some double wide crates with the metal band on top. Would be great for when Im running my Alaskan chainsaw mill. The chips/sawdust will fall through the holes keeping my tools clean.
Also half size crates I didnt know they existed now I need some. If they come in the rectangular size they would make a pretty good complement to my Akrobins.
Thanks guys for spending more of my money lol.
I wish they still made the glass-filled nylon ones. I have one from when the grocery store I worked at moved locations. Nearly 30 years old and still going strong.
Well, I suppose I am ancient but I picked up a couple of the HD milk crates and guess what – they are too small to fit classic vinyl albums! The cheaper and flimsier Lowes offering are longer on one side so will hold albums. But really, that is why college kids borrowed them in the first place (and possibly why the size was changed?)
I used them for toting LPs back in the day! i still have some and they are strong. Biggest drawback is small items (read tools) fall through the bottom of them.