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Dollar Tree Wood Crate Train


  1. Three wooden crates, or more if you want to make your train longer 
  1. Two small wood blocks for the top of the caboose. You could also se Janga blocks to make this, or Dollar Tree’s small wood blocks stacked up.
  1. Only the inside section of the wooden drawl/box  
  1. Paint and paint brushes  
  1. Wood glue 
  1. Cotton ball  
  1. Janga blocks (I only used 2) 
  1. Sharpie marker  
  1. Permanent vinyl if you wish to put words on the side of your train.  
  1. My free wheel designs, which can be found in my Free library. You will also need the materials to make them. I made mine out of wood on my Glowforge, but you could also make them on a Cricut or other cutting machine out of craft board, cardstock, or other materials.  
  2. Optional: chain to connect the train carts and gorilla glue

There are many different way and items you could use to make your train. I started off by gather supplies I thought I might use and assembling my train. I tried a few different items to see what I liked best. I made the main body of each car out of a wooden crate from Dollar tree. Other store may have similar wooden crates. You could also buy larger crates if you want a bigger train. You could even make a train large enough to put plants in the carts.  

Dollar Tree wood train

For the engine of my train, I used one wooden crate, flipped upside down. I then flipped a wooden box upside down and placed it on top of my wooden crate. For the smoke pipe, I glued two wooden Jenga blocks together. I used a cotton ball I had for the smoke coming out of my smokestack.  

For the middle train cart, I just painted a wooden crate. I then used my Cricut machine to cut some letters out of vinyl. I choose Santa Express as my words for my train. I made two sets of these words, one for either side of this train car. I made a simple template in Design Space, with the square and circle shapes, to make sure my letter were a good size. I used permanent vinyl and placed them directly onto the dried painted wood. The vinyl seemed to stick just fine for me. This piece will not be going outside or in rough conditions, so this should be fine. If it will be going outside, or your vinyl is not sticking well to the painted wood, then I recommend applying a layer of polyurethane over the dried paint. If it will be going outside, then you will want to apply the polyurethane over everything. You could also use mod podge instead of polyurethane if it does not need as much protection. Let the polyurethane or mod podge layer dry completely before applying your premium vinyl. You can make a few of these types of carts if you wish, depending on how long you want your train to be.  

I then made a caboose for my train. I did this by flipping over one of the wooden crates. I then placed two wood blocks on top. You could also use wooden Jenga blocks if you cannot find any small blocks that will fit exactly right.  

Dollar Tree wood train

For my painting, I did a simple paint job. I painted everything red first. Once the red paint was dry, I went back and painted the roof of my caboose and engine car black. I then used a black sharpie to help me make straightish lines for my windows. I then took black paint and filled in these windows. I also painted my steam pipe black. Lastly, I used a circular sponge to make nice round circles on the front and back of the train. You may need to go in with a paint brush to clean these up a little.  

Once everything was painted and dry, I used wood glue to glue everything in place. I then used my Glowforge to cut out some wheels for my train. I used the wagon wheels I made in a previous project. I made my wheels 1.5 inches, and two larger wheels 2 inches. I also decided to make a piece to connect the wheels. I also cut these pieces on my Glowforge out of wood. You can find these wheel designs in my library. I provided a few different variations for you to choose from. I also kept everything separate so you had more creativity and freedom to use the pieces as you like. Please check the sizes before making any of these pieces to insure they will fit your train and the sizes did not get altered when downloading. You can make these wheels out of wood, craft board, cardstock, or other materials, depending on the tools you have at your disposal. I glued my wheel sets together first, before gluing them onto my train. I also used my mat with measurements and straight lines to help me glue my wheels straight, especially the front wheels where one is larger than the other, and they have to be at an angle.

I thought about added a little chain to connect the train cars. I was going to use a chain I have to make jewelry, and cut it to size. However, I decided I liked the ability to move the carts separately. I also did not think the chain would be noticed. Feel free to connect your train cars if you wish though.

I added some presents I made last year to my train cart. Click here to see how I made the presents. I kept my train very simple, but you can add a lot of character with the paint details. I thought about making a gingerbread train. I was going to use my dripping chocolate technique from my hot chocolate mugs, but make it white for frosting. I also show you how to make sprinkles in that post. So, make sure to check that post out if you make a gingerbread or candy inspired train, just click here. I went with the simple painting to show off the presents more. I also do not have anything else gingerbread related. I was also a little worried with my cat breaking off some clay sprinkles and eating them, since this train will be sitting under my Christmas tree. What type of decorations do you like?  

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