Introduction: Pallet Fireplace

About: Still learning about everything. I have a long way to go.

Our new home doesn't have a fireplace, and my wife was sad at not having a proper place to hang our stockings for Christmas. With some scrap lumber and pallets at my disposal, I decided to make her a fake fireplace we could bring out at Christmas time.

I won't go into steps to break down the pallets, since you can find other Instructables on this, and will assume you have already completed this step.

Tools Used:

  • Miter saw
  • Brad nailer
  • Angle grinder w/ 50 grit pad
  • Drill
  • Impact gun
  • Wood clamps
  • Level
  • Speed square
  • Tape measure and pencil
  • 1/4" art paint brush
  • 1" paint brush
  • 2" paint brush

Materials Used:

  • Approx. 18 pallet deck boards (mine were approx 3.5" wide)
  • Four running boards (the thicker pieces) from your pallets
  • Approx. 14' of 2x4 lumber
  • Half an oak log (lengthwise) approx. 12" long
  • Acrylic paint: Red, Orange, Black, White
  • Pine colored wood filler
  • Brad nails (5/8")
  • Finish nails (2.5")
  • Wood screws (2.5")
  • Wood screws (1.75")
  • Wood glue
  • Shellac, clear

Step 1: Build Your Frame

For this you will use your 2x4s and the running board pieces you saved from your pallets.

The frame will determine the size of the fireplace. Be sure to account for the thickness of the pallets when deciding on your dimensions. If you are will be placing your finished piece in a tight location, you want to be sure it will fit.

My frame measured 32" by 32".

First, build the square section of the frame with your 2x4s, using 2.5" wood screws to connect each piece. Since I used some scrap pieces, I cute an extra pieces with 45 degree angles to keep my frame square.

Once you have the square, attach another 2x4 at the base. This not only adds stability, but gives you a little ledge, as a normal fireplace would have. I attached this piece by pre-drilling pocket holes and screwing into place with wood screws.

Using one of your running board pieces, attach it to the front along the top. This will give you a thicker mantle.

Now you need a way to attach the deck boards that will sit on the front of your fireplace. Using the second running board piece, attach it inside the square frame, along the top, but below the running board piece you just attached to the mantle.

NOTE: Before continuing you need to decide how wide of an opening you want for the fireplace.

Using the third running board, cut pieces of the appropriate size to sit inside and at the bottom of the square frame. These will be for attaching the running boards on the front of the fireplace.

Step 2: Vertical Boards

Before you attach any boards, it's best to select the boards for each location. Find boards of equal color, width, and line up together with as little of a gap as possible.

If you have the means to do so, you can rip all your boards to an identical width. I don't have a way to do this, so I had to be picky about the boards I used and how they would fit together.

First, select the boards that will sit to the left and right of the fireplace opening. Match boards so the width of them is the same for both sides. Lay those boards where they will be located on the fireplace.

Second, select the boards that will run horizontal along the front of the fireplace, and above the opening.

Third, select the board for the front of your mantle.

NOTE: When looking at the finished project from the front, I wanted to see as few edges as possible and have the face of each board. I attached boards in this step accordingly.

Use your brad nailer to attach the four boards that will run vertical - left and right of the opening - overlapping them along the edges by the same width as the boards themselves. This lets them cover the edges of the pieces you will use in an upcoming step.

Before attaching the horizontal pieces, go to the next step...

Step 3: Opening Attach Points

In order to attach pieces inside of the fireplace opening, you now need to create a way to attach those pieces in a later step.

Turn the fireplace over so the back is facing up.

Attach a scrap piece of wood across the back (vertically), so it sits just above the height you want for your opening. With scrap pieces from your running boards, attach blocks to the vertical piece you just added. Have them sit far enough to the sides of your opening so they match the thickness of your pallet boards. This will prevent the sides of these pieces from being visible from the front.

Cut two pallet board pieces for the appropriate height and attach to the left and right, inside the opening of the fireplace. Attach using your brad nailer.

Step 4: Horizontal Boards & Mantle

Cut and attach the board you selected for the front of your mantle. Cut two additional pieces for each side of the mantle. Since this pieces needs to sit as flush as possible, use wood glue and clamps if needed.

With the boards you selected for the horizontal pieces on the front, cut them to the size you desire. I staggered the boards, going from wide at the top to narrow at the bottom. The top piece may need to be notched in two of the corners to fit up under the mantle, per the image.

Attach the horizontal boards using your brad nailer and wood glue. If you pieces are flat and not warped, you can nail them from the back to avoid filling the holes in a future step.

Step 5: Final Pieces

Use your remaining pallet boards to cover any parts of the frame still exposed:

  • Base and ledge
  • Top of mantle
  • Inside the opening
  • Sides

Use your brand nailer and wood glue.

Step 6: Fill Nail Holes

With your fireplace now built, use your pine colored wood putty to fill any visible holes from the brad nails.

NOTE: I did not fill the holes from the pallet board screws

Step 7: Make Fire!

What is a fireplace without fire?!

Using half of a white oak log and one pallet board, I made a fake fire to place in our fireplace.

With an angle grinder, I marked up both ends of the log to give it some black marks.

Cut the back of the log, lengthwise, to get a flat back.

Cut three pieces from your pallet board, based on how high you want the fake flames to be. Then outline the shape of the flames.

Cut the excess wood away with a saw, then use an angle grinder to make the final shape of each flame.

Before painting or attaching, I set them up to make sure everything looked right.

For painting, I used red and orange acrylic paint that was thinned out with water. This let the grain of the wood show through and not have the colors be overpowering.

NOTE: When you use thinned out paint, be sure you make enough to cover the entire area you plan to paint. Having to make a new batch could result in two different shades.

To seal the log, I applied two layers of clear shellac.

With everything painted, pre-drill the holes in your pieces and log, then attach with wood screws.

You now have fire!

Step 8: Final Painting

For this I used a black acrylic paint inside the fireplace. One coat was enough to cover completely.

Wanting a lighter look to the fireplace itself, I used white acrylic paint thinned with water. This decreased the contrast of the wood grain, but still let a majority of the grain show through. It's very subtle and gives a slightly bleached or whitewashed look.

NOTE: When you use thinned out paint, be sure you make enough to cover the entire area you plan to paint. Having to make a new batch could result in two different shades.

Step 9: Decorate and Enjoy!

In order to hang the stockings I placed nails in the back (out of view). The ribbon is attached to these in order to hold up the stockings.

Merry Christmas!!!