It was like giving your Mom a baseball mitt for her birthday.
For Mark’s b-day last week, one of his gifts was the opportunity for us to create a wood pallet sign together! Mark is passionate about wood-working, so I figured he could tackle the wood pallet part, and I could do the lettering – - it would be a team effort!
To start, we needed rustic wood. So, we went to our local lumber shop, Thomas Lumber, in Winter Park, FL. Mark’s eyes lit up as soon as we entered the wood-yard. He was like a little kid in a candy shop.
We initially purchased a piece of reclaimed wood out of which we were going to create our sign; however, on our way to get the car, we spied this….
Stacks and stacks of free wood pallets by the dumpster! We ended up returning the reclaimed wood board and piled several pallets atop our Camry. Thankfully, Mark knew the difference between “good” wood and the “junk” wood!
And now, I’ll bow out to let Mark share about his side of the project. Just a heads-up that this is the “technical” part, which is totally Greek to me. But he wrote this with the hope that someone who hasn’t worked much with wood before could easily “d.i.y.” on the wood pallet part. If you’re more of a visual person, just look at the pic below and go crazy! Or if you know someone who could assemble your board for you, skim on.
MARK: “Hi readers. For your raw material, you’re going to want some old boards. One great (and inexpensive) source for solid hardwoods is old pallets, “crates,” that are used for shipping heavy things like car parts, boxes, or furniture. Because they are made for strength, most often the wood is oak (red or white), rough-cut and still with transverse lines from the sawmill. In comparison to the more ubiquitous soft woods like pine, oak is much harder, stronger, and more durable. While it takes more power to cut, sand, and fasten oak, it is well worth the effort. You’re going to be spending some quality time with the wood, so start with something you like. The smell of oak sawdust is one of life’s good things.
LIST OF MATERIALS:
- Pallet with at least 6-8 boards as described above, approx 1/2″ thick x 3 1/2″ wide by 26″ long.
- Wood screws (from 3/4″ to 1 1/4″ depending on board thickness). I like black drywall PH2 screws best.
- 16 gauge wire or 1/16″ cable, approx. 2 ft long.
TOOLS: sandpaper, drill, saw, clamps. I have a Rigid 18V cordless drill that I use for drilling, screwdriving, AND for sanding, using an arbor and backing pad with discs of sandpaper. Ideally you want a chop saw and circular saw, but a handsaw could be used.
So you’ve assembled your pallet, other materials, and tools. Let’s get started.
1. First, sand the portion of the pallet you will use.
2. Cut the boards from the pallat, as close as possible to the ribs where the wood is secured with nails. The nails used in crates are very difficult to pull, so I recommend leaving them and just using the clear sections of wood.
3. Cut each of the boards to a similar length (I used 26″ horizontal pieces), and sand both sides and all edges.
4. Arrange the boards in the desired sequence, side by side. Measure the height of this sequence (pallat boards are 3 1/2 inches wide, so somewhere around 14 inches +/-).
5. Subtract 2 inches from this number, then cut 2 boards to this length, to be used for the vertical braces.
6. Put the horizontal boards good-side-down, and then lay the vertical braces on top.
7. With a pencil, mark 2 Xs on the vertical brace over each of the horizontal boards (diagonally placing these will maximize hold and minimize splitting). Now, remove the vertical braces and drill holes 3/16″ inches in diameter through each X.
8. Replace the vertical braces over the horizontal boards, and make sure everything is square. Clamp it all down. Optional: you can drill 1/16″ pilot holes through the holes in the verticals into the horizontals. This will decrease splitting, but is not absolutely necessary, especially if you are using softer wood.
9. Finally, select a drywall screw length that is about 1/8″ less than the combined thickness of the horizontal and vertical boards. While still clamped, drive screws through the holes vertical boards into the horizontal boards. You want a snug fit, so drive until the top of the screw is nearly flush with the wood surface.
10. Now that it is put together, do one final sanding over all edges and corners.
11. The next step is key for strength when hanging on a wall. Wind the cable or wire clockwise twice around a drywall screw, then drive the screw into a pilot hole on the top end of the vertical brace. You can put a washer on the screw to help clamp the cable into the wood. Make a matching hole on the other vertical and drive another screw with cable, so that there is slack in the wire/cable in between the 2 screws. This will hang on the bracket or screw on the wall. (This pallet will be relatively heavy, so I recommend finding the stud in the wall and tapping into that.)”
LAUREN: Thanks, Mark! You rock. Okay, here’s what I did with the lettering.
So, we knew that we wanted to use some vinyl letters we had gotten from Tweet Heart Wall Art on our pallet. (I have not yet invested in a Silhouette…it’s on my dream list, though.) Initially, I had planned to trace around the vinyl, remove it, and handpaint the text…but we sort of fell in love with the look of the crisp vinyl on the rustic wood (and I think it saved me a LOT of work in the end).
Here was my process of applying the vinyl lettering:
1. First, I cut up the quote into four separate pieces, so I could space things out as I wanted. I just used double-stick tape to keep things in place temporarily.
2. To transfer the vinyl onto the pallet, I placed a strip of masking tape on the top of one section at a time. Then, I lifted it up and carefully removed the backing, making sure not to let the sticky side touch the pallet just yet.
3. Then, I laid the vinyl letters down onto the wood working from top to bottom and using a credit card to ensure the vinyl stuck to the wood.
4. The next step was to remove the glossy backing, and I worked from left to right, giving the vinyl a good press with my fingers as I went along.
I was worried about the “love story” text because it spanned across two boards that had a considerable gap between them. However, I decided to use the credit card to press the lettering down the side of the wood (in the groove).
I actually kind of like how the vinyl looks going down the side of the wood, giving it more texture.
And here she is, all done!
We’ll eventually hang her up in our bedroom,
and I plan to use a clear sealant on the surface. I’ll share updated info when I get there, but I was too anxious to share this to wait! [Update on 1/9/13: my pal Sonja informed me that putting sealant over vinyl causes discoloration and can sometimes shrink the vinyl, so I'm really thankful we decided to leave the wood in its natural state. Phew. Craft fail averted.]
Now, the question is…what project will this pile of pallets inspire next? Suggestions are welcome!
More Pallet Projects
Since this post was published, we have been doing a lot more with pallets (you could say we’re slightly obsessed). We recycled pallets into a…well…Rustic Pallet Recycle Bin:
We even built a pallet headboard for our Rustic Nautical Master Bedroom!
And we dedicated an entire post to sharing our tips and tricks for working with pallet wood. We hope it helps clear up any questions you may have and inspires you to pallet-all-the-things!