pallet art {tutorial}

Here’s the story of my very first pallet project.  Well, for the blog anyway … me and pallets go way back.  😉

Here’s the perfect little pallet in her original glory.

I loved the aged grey color and I loved the width of the slats on the pallet, it’s almost like they were aged down to a narrower size. Perfectly irregular.

I don’t know if it was the long time I let the baby sit in the harsh sun and often pelting rain, or just the nature of the beast, but these slats came off like buttah.  Just use a wonder bar and hammer to pry them off.

To back up just a minute, I had to use a small spackle knife to remove some stuck on spackle (oh, the irony) from the pallet. I had picked it up at a construction site. On a rainy day the blobs of spackle loosened right up a bit and then I just scraped away.

Then I diligently cleaned left the pallet out in the rain a few more days.

A few days after that I took it all apart and laid the slats out to see what I was working with.

I debated cutting the slats down, so they weren’t quite as long. But, I liked the weathered edges and the nail holes and I didn’t want to create clean cuts, so I just left it.

So, let the wording begin.

I used these stencils to trace all of the lettering.
I did a rough eyeball of how many letters would fit on each slat to help me decide on exactly what I was going to say. I determined that each line had to be less than 30 spaces, including all letters and spaces in between words. I also determined that I didn’t want them to be all the same length because I wanted more of a jagged edge look in terms of where all the lettering started and stopped.

I may or may not have decided I liked the jagged edge look because it made the project easier by eliminating the need to make sure the wording on each slat was lined up. I will never tell. 😉

Sooooo, this is what I came up with:

slat 1 – love wholeheartedly
slat 2 – be true to your word and soul
slat 3 – do what inspires you
slat 4 – laugh often dream big
slat 5 – believe in forgiveness
slat 6 – plant a seed take chances
slat 7 – leave only your footprints

Now, just to make it happen. Easy peazy like.

I was able to do all of the stenciling and painting without any major screw ups. I came close to a slat that said “be true tour word and soul” and one with “leave only your footrints” but caught my almost errors in time.

TIP!!! Check, double check and check again after each letter!

Timing wise, it took me about 45 minutes to do all of the stenciling and then about 30 minutes PER SLAT to paint. Those of you who are super artsy can probably either skip the stenciling part all together, or just use your paint directly with your stencil.

Once all of the lettering was done, I just needed to get it all put together and hung. I had originally thought that I would use some of the other pallet wood from the same pallet and nail the slats back on just a little closer together than they had started. But, then I got the idea to weave some wire through the nail holes. I liked this option for two main reasons, 1) it added another element of rustic and 2) weaving wire seemed easier than lining up and nailing all the boards. :)

The first step to this plan (that I would have had to do with both options) was to remove all old nail remnants to create an open hole for the wire. I used a nail punch and hammer. These little nail punch thingys are most often used to set nails into wood so you can putty over them before painting and be none the wiser where the nails are.

Then I just looped the wire through the nail holes.

And wrapped the ends, end over end, to secure it all together.

What do you think of the final product?

Beautifully rustic, I think. I like the grey of the wood and the cream color of the paint. I just mixed a few paint colors I had together. It’s very similar to the color I used to paint the words on my Mapped Dresser.

A pretty good sized art piece for about $2, the cost of the stencils, and if you already have stencils, or are crafty enough to freehand, this baby is totally FREE. Unless you need to buy wire.  :)

So far this year this pallet art has been found in our kitchen above one of our driftwood shelves and in my summer mantel.  And I made a totally different kind of pallet word art here over the summer.

What do you think?


  1. JaneEllen says

    You crack me up Karah Good thing I can’t visit there or we might get into trouble having some rita’s and whatever else. I do love to have a good chat and drink some rita’s or? and munch on salsa and chips. Gotta eat something while ya’ drink in case ya’ have to drive.
    loved your pallet word art signs, all of them. I started a sign and messed it up so it’s sitting against the house on deck. Figured the weather would make it look better. Not from a pallet but some scrap wood the hubs brought home from construction sight/development he used to work at. We’ve made everything lately with wood he brought home. FREE,love that. I love your sense of humor and projects, you’re pretty laid back, not a perfectionist. Gives me courage to try a sign again.
    Gotta go eat supper, the hubs cooks, yum. Good to hear from you again.

    • says

      Gotta love a margarita with chips and salsa. :) I’m so glad you’ve found some inspiration. Free projects with scrap wood are my favorite. I’d love to see a picture when you’re done.

  2. szinteriors says

    Love this and am so glad you provided a tutorial! Thank you :-)

    An aside… did you get the book yet, or is that still a trip that is waiting to happen? Would love to know what you think! :-)

  3. Melissa says

    I LOOOVE pallet art and i even have some pallets sitting on my front porch making my house look all sorts of ghettofied.
    my question is how do you get your nails out so nicely. I fight and fight to get just one out. sometimes… lots of times….. they just will not MOVE!! so i end up going crazy-nail-hammering-lady on the thing and usually end up making a BIG mess.

    any tips??

    • says

      Ugh! I have totally been there! I don’t try to pry off slats that are attached with more than 2 or 3 nails. I’ve learned the hard way that it doesn’t work. If you don’t need the full length of the slat you can just cut them off … much easier! And, if you’re talking about hammering the nails out of the slats once you get them separated, that’s a toughy too. Sometimes a little wiggling with needle nosed pliers helps loosen it and then just try to hammer them out with the angle of the nail … I hope that makes sense. Please feel free to email me for more detail. :)

  4. says

    Karah, it looks AMAZING!!!!! I love how you diligently cleaned the pallets. The chosen words are beautiful! Thanks for sharing the how to. I still have project pics from MORE THAN A YEAR AGO (eeek!!) that I still haven’t prep to share on my blog.

  5. says

    Love your pallet art! I’m sorta partial to pallets myself. LOL I G+’d, pinned & tweeted your awesome sign! {HUGS} Three Mango Seeds aka Clydia


Let me know what you think!