Easy Pallet Wood Sign Tutorial

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This easy pallet wood sign tutorial will show you how to make a great looking sign for the wall or for a gift. I use wood from a hardware store, and it’s inexpensive. If you like this, you may also like my Established Sign Tutorial.

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Easy Pallet Wood Sign Tutorial

easy pallet wood sign

The finished sign is a 14 inch square, though you can modify that if you wish. I like sharing this particular method for making pallet wood signs, because it can be scaled to any size or shape.

My wife and I worked together on this project. I made the wooden sign and stained the piece before she added the vinyl for the lettering and design. After that, I lacquered the whole pallet wood sign to even out the sheen.

Step One – Cut List and Layout

easy pallet wood signThis tutorial will result in a 14 inch square sign, but feel free to change things if you need something different. For my sign, start by cutting four pieces of wood that measure 3-1/2 inches wide by 14 inches long.

Arrange these boards so that the best edges are touching one another to minimize the gapping between them. If you like a more rustic look to your pallet wood sign, then look for the arrangement that maximizes the gaps.

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Also, pay attention to the best looking faces. Place these faces down on the bench, and they will become the surfaces you see on the finished sign. If you want absolutely zero gaps, run the edges through a jointer and then arrange them.

Once your pieces are butted up together, you need to cut a couple cross pieces for the back side. Cut two boards that are 1-1/2 inches wide and 12 inches long.

Measure 1-1/2 inches from the top and bottom of the pallet wood sign, and make a couple marks with a pencil. This is where you will place the cross pieces in final assembly.

You can bevel the edges of these pieces if you like, but typically they are hard to see behind the sign when it’s on a wall. This design will always have the slats vertically, but you can simply add another cross bar to the left or the right to hang it horizontally.

Step Two – Gluing the Pallet Wood Sign Pieces Together

easy pallet wood signOnce you have the pieces cut and the layout completed, it’s time to get everything glued together. This is when having a brad nail gun is really nice.

Square up your sign boards and apply glue to the cross bars. Place the cross bars and fire a couple nails through each slat. For this layout, that means eight total nails in each cross bar, two in each slat.

After that, clamp the cross bars to the slats for about an hour, which will keep them flat. Sometimes the wood will not be perfectly flat, so clamping the pieces down helps straighten them out before the glue dries.

Step Three – Sanding and Filling

easy pallet wood signOnce the glue is dry, remove the clamps and inspect your piece. Now is the time to address any fills that you need, and sand the edges smooth.

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Depending on how rustic you want to go, you may not need to do much work. My wife wanted this sign to be very smooth and even, so I had to fill several knots.

Find a good filler product, which I wrote another article about, and use it on the knots and deep dings. Once it has dried, sand the surface smooth using a power sander or by hand with a block. Sand the piece down to 220 grit.

Step Four – Finishing the Pallet Sign

easy pallet wood signYou can finish the pallet sign in a stain of your choice, as long as it contrasts the lettering enough. For this sign, I used a Rustoleum stain called Kona.

I like these stains. They color well, and dry in about an hour. Also, you can wipe them on and off pretty easily too.

At a minimum, stain the visible sections of the pallet wood sign. This means the face and the four edges. It never hurts to fully finish a piece, even if the one side will be looking at a wall forever. Apply the stain with a clean cloth, and wipe it back to even out the coloring on the pallet sign.

Step Five – Lettering and Design

easy pallet wood signAfter the pallet wood sign is dry, you need to add lettering and design elements. There are a number of tools for this, but the best by far is the Silhouette Cameo

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My wife takes over all of my sign projects from this point. She designed and built this layout on the computer, and then exported it to her Silhouette machine.

The machine cuts the design out of adhesive backed vinyl, which she applies to the wood sign. She uses a trick to apply the letters to the wooden sign that allows her to move them all at once.

Pallet Sign Vinyl Transfer Trick

Instead of transferring the letters one at a time, she uses clear contact paper. First, she lays the contact paper on the vinyl letters, which transfers them to the contact paper. Then, she lays the contact paper on the wood sign, and presses on the vinyl letters. Finally, she pulls the contact paper away, leaving all the letters behind exactly as she designed them on the computer.

If you only take away one tip from this tutorial, using contact paper to transfer all of your design at once is what you need to remember. The sign needs to look good, but the design is what people are really going to see. If your letters are crooked, poorly spaced, and uneven, everyone will notice.

Once the letters are applied, spray a thin layer of lacquer on the surface to even out the sheen. Go thin, and apply a few layers. Soaking the surface can cause the vinyl to come up, though it usually presses down after the layer dries.

I hope you enjoyed the Easy Pallet Wood Sign Turotial. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.

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