How to Make a Pallet Sign

I had some questions regarding how I made the pallet sign for my Valentine’s mantel, so I thought I’d put together a quick tutorial for you. It is so easy to make a pallet sign and takes a very minimal time commitment! Let’s get to it.

Step 1: Find Your Wood

Yes, but where do you find free wood? Well, in my urban neighborhood weathered wood is everywhere. I took a walk with my camera to prove it, but then felt silly taking pics of people’s garbage piles so here is the one shot I took. Near dumpsters you can often find discarded pallets, or in this case discarded fence pieces. Another great resource to find free wood is Craigslist. Often, free pallets for the taking will be listed. If you still can’t find any, drive to your town’s industrial district and look for pallets by dumpsters. Just be warned that pallets aren’t the cleanest of woods and can carry bugs or be soaked in toxic pesticides. Yep. It’s sad but true.

The wood for my “pallet” sign actually came from some old boards I was storing on the side of our house. After my experience with the bugs that shall not be named, I am honestly fearful of pallets and all the chemicals and potential bugs they might be harboring. I opted for wood that we had purchased for a previous project that I had left outside to weather.

Step 2: Clean Your Boards

I asked everyone on my facebook page how best to clean the boards and received a myriad of answers from deck wash, bleach, to pressure washing. My boards weren’t in horrible shape and I wanted to keep the weathered look, so I just sanded my boards lightly with a palm sander. (Note: Wear a respirator when sanding to protect your lungs.) Below is the sander I own, the Skil 12000 Orbits per Minute Detail Power Sander. It’s not fancy and only cost around $40 and has some design flaws, but so far it’s worked great for small projects.


Step 3: Measure and Cut Your Boards

The size of your sign might just be determined by how much wood you have to work with! My boards were  1″x4″x8′, so I divided each board by three so that I had six boards in my sign. To cut the boards, I used my jigsaw but you could use your miter saw, or really a simple miter box or hack saw will work. (Note: I’m faking the picture for you below. I’m not left handed and this isn’t the board I used in my sign. I just thought you might like a visual of cutting here ;).)

If you are doing a smaller project like this one, there is no need to bust out the big guns. I LOVE my little jigsaw and use it all the time. Jigsaws are especially great if you are a beginning DIY’er. They handle more like drills and the blades are small and less intimidating looking than miter saw blades, but they are still mighty.

Step 4: Nail Your Boards

I found a piece of thin scrap wood in our basement, cut it to size and then nailed it in place using brads. I didn’t bother using any wood glue or going crazy with nails. This isn’t a piece of furniture that you have to worry about getting a lot of abuse so just use as many brads as it takes to secure the boards and call it done!

pallet sign

Step 5: Make It Pretty

I used my digital cutter to create the letters on some scrapbook paper. (The font is Modern No. 20 in case you were wondering.) I’m not sure that I want the LOVE letters after Valentine’s Day, so I used stenciling adhesive spray (mine is Martha Stewart brand) to adhere the letters to the board. Stencil adhesive is wonderful! It’s non-permanent and the letters can be removed when I tire of them. Yay!

To hang my sign, I totally lucked out and had a board with a knot hole perfectly in the center. I purposely placed this board at the top of my sign so that I could string a ribbon through it for hanging. If you don’t have such luck, you can drill a hole in the top center of your board. Or, you can use D-ring picture hangers on the back of your sign to hang it.

So there you have it! Five (er…six?) easy steps towards your creation of a cute weathered wood sign! Now go make your own :).

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  1. Caryn says

    I love it and as it happens I have spent the afternoon trying to figure out how to make a sign for a friends birthday, this is just what I am looking for. As it needs to go outside any tips on how to weatherize it?

  2. says

    Thanks for posting this! While I may or may not make a pallet sign (my neighbour has some pallets to get rid of), I was wondering what kind of saw to use for cutting some 1-inch wide boards for shelving…I’ll use my husband’s new, never-been-out-of-the-box jigsaw! The other options were a circular saw or a hand saw 😉

    When I saw the mini picture of your sign on Facebook, I thought the letters were made with gold leaf or gold paint. That would be an interesting juxtaposition with the rough wood! But the scrapbook paper you used is beautiful.

  3. says

    Very cute. And I’m glad you didn’t use the other wood. I always wonder how many people make pallet projects and don’t know about all the bad stuff, it’s scary to think of. This little project is just adorable, and I want one!

  4. says

    Very cute, Beth! My husband recently scored some pallets but after we burned one in our fire pit and toxic smoke resulted, I decided I won’t be bringing any into the house.

    I found a cool tutorial online (where, I forgot) that you can weather your own boards by first tea-staining them, and then making a mixture of steel wool and white vinegar in a glass jar (let sit overnight), and then brushing it with that.

    It gives it that nice gray look and you can do it instantly, without having to wait for boards to weather. :)

  5. says

    Your tutorial is super easy. Thanks for sharing! I have got to get me one of those jigsaws! My husband has one but I like my own :-) I have my own drill but saw the cutest pink one on a blog yesterday!


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