Introduction: DIY Pallet Pumpkin
In this project, we'll construct a standup Jack-o-lantern/pumpkin out of scrap pallet boards.
I used clamps, jigsaw, hammer and nails, sandpaper/sanding block, file, spray paint, cardboard (for stencil), Xacto knife, and a random orbital sander. Several of these operations could be done with tool substitutions, but these are around the easiest and cheapest for the job.
Step 1: Layout
The first step is to collect your boards and lay them out to ensure you have enough to get the right size pumpkin. I like to rough out the shape in pencil and make a hard outline in felt marker. In hindsight, I'd brace the boards together first, which not only holds the outline where it was intended, but holds the boards still while jigsawing. Drawing the face at this point was more to get a feel for the shape of the pumpkin than anything practical.
I didn't worry too much about following the outline perfectly on this project, since I'm keeping it somewhat rustic (and spooky). The main concern was keeping the overall shape rounded, but imperfections can be smoothed with a file and sanding.
Step 2: Bracing and Final Shaping
My brad nailer isn't strong enough for the oak pallets, so I used nails that were a little too long. The ends of the nails that stick out are easily nipped with side-cutters and filed down. I also used a file for de-burring the jigsaw cuts and shaping curves prior to sanding.
Since I added my bracing after the outline was cut, I trimmed it with the jigsaw just prior to sanding.
Step 3: Putting on the Face
Using a flattened out pizza box, I created a stencil for my Jack-o-lantern face. Once I was satisfied, I used an Xacto blade to cut out the design. I laid down 2 coats of orange spray paint, letting each dry according to the instructions. I wanted coverage, but didn't need the grain to disappear fully. After this was dry enough to handle, I used painter's tape to secure the stencil and sprayed black across the eyes, nose, mouth, and stem.
After everything was dry, I roughed up the edges and high spots with a random orbital sander. This step is optional, but goes with the overall aesthetic. I then recovered spots in the orange field where there was black over-spray, just to tighten up the shape of the face.
Step 4: Staking It Down
I grabbed another scrap of pallet board and a hammer, and headed to the front yard. This chunk of oak already had an angle cut on one end, so I used it as a stake and drove it in with a hammer. The horizontal bracing on the back will sit against this and hold the pumpkin up reasonably well, so be sure to drive the stake in to an appropriate height for the bracing.
I used a regular claw hammer for this only because it was handy, but would have been much better off with a mallet or dead blow hammer. The small head on a regular hammer is more effective at marring up the stake than driving it into the ground, and resulted in me splitting the stake. Safety glasses are always a good idea.