I have access to pallets and it never ceases to amaze me that so many are made from excellent quality timber. It seems a shame that so many are cut up and burnt. I wanted to make use of some for decorative and utility purposes.
I try and take them to pieces carefully trying not to waste the timber.
This wall display is to be hung on the wall and used to hang other items from as well as providing a decorative texture to the wall.
Step 1: Assembly of the Panel
Then a dry layout was done on a flat surface to get the combination, colour and sizes of the boards 'correct'.
Two backing battery's were prepared, these are to hold the main boards together. The distance from the ends of the boards were marked, Gorilla glue was used to secure the battens and then they were held with suitable length finishing pins fired in with an air stapler.
The glue was left to set for 12 hours.
Step 2: Preparing the Surface and Trimming to Size.
Preparing the surface properly is essential if a good final finish is to be achieved. I used a heavy duty belt sander as these boards were quite rough, then after the initial sanding I changed to a smoother grit belt to get a smooth finish but without removing too much of the texture.
My aim was to keep the the panel looking rustic.
The belt sander is a great machine but there a re a couple of important things to think about before you start using it.
a) these machines are heavy and have a lot of kick when you start them, just be aware of this.
b) they are very noisy so hearing protection will be required for prolonged use.
c) hardwood dust can be a hazard so extraction or dust collection is essential.
After the whole of the front of the panel was sanded to the required finish I used the track saw (my favorite tool) to square all the boards to the same length.
It might seem strange to do this after sanding but I wanted to keep the texture right to the end of the boards and sanding afterwards would remove this.
Finally a quick sand of the back of the boards where hands might come into contact (ie the edges) was done.
Once the timber has been sanded back to a good smooth finish without removing too much of the texture the panel is dusted off either with a brush or using compressed air. However if you do use compressed air ensure that a) eye protection is worn and b) that it is done in a place where the dust can actually blow away (ie outside).
Once it is dust free then the first of three or four coats of clear satin finish can be applied. As with all projects which require a finish applied to them the preparation makes a huge difference to the final finish.
I have used a water based product because it is better for the environment and it gives a really good silky finish quickly and easily.
This particular product also dries within 20 minutes.
After the first coat you will find that the timber has nibbed, the grain has been raised. A gentle rub back with some fine glass paper or sanding pad will take it back smooth ready for a de-dust and a second coat.
Pallet timber tends to be quite absorbent and so a lot of coats of finish is usually required.
Between each coat and after it has dried completely the surface should be rubbed back. Once a good finish has been achieved then apply once more coat for a super finish. Because this finish is clear and four coats have been applied you can still see the texture and features of the timber but not actually feel them.
Look after the brushes by washing them out carefully between each coat with warm but not hot water. Hot water will ruin a brush. Leave the brush to dry hanging up not resting on its bristles.
Step 4: Hangers
I am using standard mirror plates to hand this panel. they will be screwed to the rear of the panel. Then hooks can be fitted to the wall to hang the panel from.
Timber structures are often heavier than you image and thus the hanging system needs to be more than adequate. Standard picture hooks will not do the job in this case.
Step 5: Finished and Hung.
This large wall hanging was meant to be rustic and to show the features of the timber. However I managed to get the surface really silky in feel using the water based polyurethane and gentle rubbing back. the centre of the board was masked off and painted with three coats of standard chalk board paint which was also water based. Once it had dried the tape was removed leaving a neat panel for chalk notices.
The sign writing was done using my vinyl cutter, it gives a very and tidy look quickly and easily. I am really pleased with the results.
I took this panel to a craft market this weekend and sold it for a good price to florist who is going to use it in her shop.
The other pictures in this step just show some other panels that i have made using re-purposed materials. i get a great deal of satisfaction making projects like these and seeing the delight on the faces of the end users.