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This is the ULTIMATE PALLET SIGN PROJECT!….I FINALLY DID IT!!! To be honest, my husband made me do it. He finally got fed up of me complaining about the huge, enormous, gigantic, BORING, blank wall behind our couch. It’s 10 feet wide!!!
I don’t blame him one bit. It’s been a year since we moved into our first home, and I have been mentioning different possibilities for the wall. But I never found the time to do it. This huge pallet sign has been in my head for MONTHS. Since I love trees and knew I wanted a white tree painted on rustic wood. I just didn’t know how to make a sign big enough to cover the wall.
My husband must have heard me explain what I wanted enough that he could picture the pallet sign himself! Now imagine that! He just decided to start pulling pallet wood into the garage, laid them out, and let me sort through them. That was just enough to get my creative juices flowing and get excited about this project.
The Supplies You Will Need For This Project Are Listed At The Bottom Of This Post.
Now I am going to tell you a SECRET you can’t tell anyone. Ready? It didn’t cost us anything to make this sign….NOT A PENNY! (I know it’s not really going to be a secret after this.) Everything we used for this project we had lying around the house. No Home Depot trips on this project. That’s a DIY win. YAY!!!
We had about 20 pallets worth of wood that my husband disassembled and had been sitting on the side of our house. So we used that, and we had some scrap wood from other projects left over that we used. The nails, screws, wire, triangle hooks, tools, paint, and contact paper are all things we had in our tool box or in my craft room.
We started arranging the pallet wood planks, picking out the pieces we loved, and discarding the ones that were warped or had water stains. My husband then took a wire brush, lightly brushed them all over, and wiped off any dirt. You can clean your wood more thoroughly if you prefer. Our wood had been leaning on our fence for 9 months, and after many rains and a monsoon, these wood planks were pretty clean.
I considered sanding the wood because some planks had sharp edges, but my husband didn’t want to take any extra steps (it was 100° degrees outside and I was 7 months pregnant). He also mentioned that no one would be rubbing the wood sign (he makes a great argument).
We staggered the wood planks because some were taller then others, and I didn’t want just the top or bottom of the pallet sign to be straight. To make sure that the pallet wood planks were not staggered unevenly, we took two 8 ft. pieces of wood as markers and laid them 3.5 feet apart because that’s how tall we wanted the sign to be.
We used the weights (in the photo at right) to keep the two markers in place as we arranged them and staggered the pieces. This ensured that the wood would be pleasing to the eye and not unequal throughout. I believe our longest plank was exactly 3.5 feet and our shortest plank was about 2.5 feet. I highly recommend placing markers and measuring the distance on both ends to make sure your tallest pieces will be level when hung on the wall.
I decided this 8 foot sign would really be two 4 foot signs. This would make it possible to get it in the house after assembling it and make it possible to pack if we ever move. After cleaning the wood, we cut the 8′ 1″ support pieces in half with our miter saw and then placed the 1” x 1” support wood underneath the pallet planks.
In my steps at the bottom of this post, I mention we lay the pallet planks on top of the 1” x 1″ support wood BEFORE arranging. PLEASE, I beg you, save yourself time and arrange the wood planks on top of the 1” x 1″ support wood first. This makes it easy to just nail the wood down after you arrange it the way you want. We arranged it and staggered the wood directly on the garage floor. Then realized it was very difficult to try and slide/shimmy the support wood underneath without messing up the arrangement.
We nailed the wood to the support pieces, then flipped over the wood and hammered the nails over to secure it further (as shown in the photo above). We did the same to the other half of the sign. Make sure that the support pieces are equal in placement on both signs so when you hang them together the support pieces are next to each other.
Next, we attached the triangle hooks to each half of the sign. We measured from the side of the sign, pre-drilled the holes for the hooks, and made sure the hooks on the other side were the same distance from the side. We used 4 hooks total and attached them with the 1” screws.
We then used the steel tie wire, threaded it through the hooks, and wrapped it around itself like you would if you were to hang a frame or painting with wire. We pulled the wire tight and tied it on the other side, too.
To hang the sign, we used our stud finder, marked the studs with tape, and positioned the sign where we wanted it. Then, we marked where the support wood was because the wire line was inline with the support wood and the screws would sit on the wire. Then, we drew a line with our level in pencil, marked the 4 points on the other studs, and drilled the screws into the wall.
Above is a photo after we hung the sign on the wall. I drew lines to help you visualize how the hooks and screw placement were since I couldn’t really photograph that part. Now that the sign was hung up, I started making the stencil.
To make the stencil, I dragged the image I wanted to use into my silhouette cameo software and traced it, giving me a crisp outline. I then drew a box the same size as my finished pallet sign, which was 35” tall x 100” wide.
NOTE: If you own a craft cutter you can purchase the cut file for the Tree here: Tree Silhouette Cut File.
I placed the tree where I wanted it in the box and resized it to how it would look on the sign. I then cut up the tree design to fit onto six 12 X 24” rectangles so I could cut it on my silhouette cameo. This is definitely the biggest stencil I have made with my silhouette cameo machine. I made a duplicate of the tree and used the knife tool to cut one up. I used the other as reference for where each piece went.
Some of the leaves on the original tree wouldn’t fit in my cuts or would be just outside the cut lines, so I decided to fill some of those in by hand. The cut settings I used to cut the stencil were Blade: 2 Thickness: 3. After my machine cut all the contact paper stencils, I weeded out the negative space and cut clear contact paper to transfer the stencil to the wood.
After applying the clear contact paper to the front, I removed the backing from the contact paper stencil and applied it to the wood using a vinyl squeegee. Then, I removed the clear contact paper, leaving the stencil behind on the wood planks. I used the same piece of 12 x 24″ contact paper to transfer all six pieces of stencil to the wood.
Then, I used a stenciling brush and painted the tree onto the wood with a stippling motion. You want to lightly push the brush on and off the wood instead of brushing so you don’t push paint under the stencil.
Immediately after I painted the last bit I removed my stencil. I didn’t wait for it to dry for a few reasons. One I was impatient. Two I have found it doesn’t matter much when I pull the stencil off. Three I was ready to see the result. To stencil the verse I used the same steps as making the tree stencil, just on a smaller scale.
As part of my mission to saturate our home with scripture, I chose to paint a bible verse on my sign. Using a simple font I edited it in my silhouette software to have spaces like a alphabet stencil so it would be easier to weed and apply to the wood without losing the pieces that make the letter.
I then cut it out in contact paper, applied clear contact paper/transfer paper over the top, and applied it slowly to the wood from left to right. When I came to a space in the wood, I cut the stencil so the letters wouldn’t fall in void and not be visible.
The photo above shows how some of the wood planks were raised higher then others. If you chose to do a more detailed stencil, it can also be helpful to cut up the stencil where it meets a void in the wood.
Next, I peeled off the stencil. As you can see above, I went back and filled in the little spaces I had made with a fine tip brush. This makes it look nice and hand painted, and not like it was a stencil.
Below is a time lapse video I made of me positioning the stencil, applying it, and painting the sign.
We really enjoyed this project, and I am so grateful my husband took the initiative and helped me get this DIY project started. I am extremely happy with the finished product and love the rustic look the wood brings to our home.
It took us approx. 3 hours to assemble the sign, and it took me 2-3 hours to cut, weed, and stencil the tree onto the wood. 5-6 hours of work was definitely worth it. We filled in that awkward blank space on the wall and made our living room feel like home.
At 8 feet long, this is a REALLY BIG pallet sign. It could intimidate any DIY-er, but don’t let it! If you have a BIG, huge, ugly, boring wall in your home and you have some crafty skills, YOU can make this! I was scared at first, but now that I’ve tackled the ultimate pallet sign…I shall fear no more.
Supplies We Used To Build The 8 ft Pallet Sign:
- Pallet Wood (We Used 25 Pieces Total, Each Piece Was Between 2” – 4”)
- (2) 8 ft Long Pieces of Wood 1” x 1” (Holds Everything Together. We Cut Ours In Half.)
- (50) 2” Long Nails (One At Top and Bottom of Each Piece Of Wood To Attach To Wood Support)
- (4) 1” Screws (Attach Triangle Hooks To Sign For Hanging)
- (4) 3” Screws (Drilled Into Studs For Hanging)
- (4) Steel Triangle Picture Hanging Hooks (To Hold Wire For Hanging)
- 16.5 Gauge Rebar Steel Tie Wire (To Hang Sign)
- Wire Brush To Clean
- Miter Saw
Supplies To Make The Stencil For The Pallet Sign:
- 1 Roll Clear Contact Paper (I Use This As Transfer Paper)
- 1 Roll Printed Contact Paper (This Is What I Cut The Stencil On. I Use The Fake Granite Contact Paper.)
- White Craft Paint (Or Any Color or Pain You Prefer)
- Stencil Brush (Tapping Paint Onto Wood)
- Fine Tip Brush (Fill In Fine Details)
- Silhouette Cameo Cutting Machine or X-acto Knife (To Cut Stencil)
(Note: you could easily freehand paint any design you wish on your sign. I just chose the stencil method because I want it to be precise…aaand because I’m a pitiful perfectionist. You can create your own stencil with my cut file below on your own machine. Or you can buy the file and blow the image up in a word document and print it out piece by piece and tape it together. Using that to trace the design onto the wood and then filling it in with paint.)
Interested in purchasing a silhouette cameo to make your own projects? I recommend this bundle here:
Steps We Took To Complete The Pallet Sign:
- Clean Pallet Wood
- Cut 8ft Pieces Of 1” x 1″ Support Wood In Half
- Arrange Pallet Wood On Top Of The 1’’ x 1″ Pieces
- Nail Pallet Wood In Place
- Flip Over and Hammer Down Nails Tips To Secure
- Attach Triangle Hooks With 1” Screws
- Thread Wire Through Hooks Tightly and Wrap Around
- Mark The Studs On The Wall of Choice
- Decide Height of Sign On Wall and Place The 3’’ Screws into Studs
- Hang Sign on Wall
Steps For Stencil:
- Find Image Or Graphic You Want On Your Sign
- Drag Into Silhouette Software (Or Choose A Design From Their Store)
- Create a Line Box The Same Size As Your Sign (Ours was 35 inches tall x 100 inches wide)
- Size Your Image In the Box How You Want It To Appear On Your Sign
- Use The Knife Tool To Cut Image Up (So Your Machine Can Cut It And You Can Piece It Back Together)
- Cut Out Stencil On Contact Paper. I Used My 12×24 Mat and Settings: Blade: 2 Thickness: 3
- Weed Out Stencil and Apply Clear Contact Paper Over
- Pull Backing Off Contact Paper Allowing Sticky Side To Show
- Place On Pallet Sign (Use Vinyl Squeegee Or Credit Card To Smooth and Attach Stencil)
- Remove Clear Contact Paper (Transfer Paper) Repeat Until All The Stencil Is Up
- Rub Stencil Onto Wood Again Clearing Air Bubbles
- Paint Wood Lightly Tapping Paint Onto The Wood With Brush
- Pull Off Stencil (You Can Wait Until It Is Dry Or Not…I Didn’t)
- Go Back Over With Fine Tip Brush Or Add Extra Detail
- Sit Back And Admire Your Work Because You’re DONE!
What did you think of this pallet sign project?
If you have followed this tutorial and made your own pallet sign I would love to see it!
*Tree Image, used under license from Shutterstock.com
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