Introduction: Pallet Wood Penny Boards

About: I have an unhealthy relationship with pallet wood. I make fast paced and entertaining build videos on my YouTube channel that are made for everyone, but with the ultimate goal to get the younger generations ex…

100% reclaimed pallet wood Penny Boards! Another thing that the world has never asked for, it's kind of my specialty.

These custom Penny Board style skateboard decks are made entirely from laminated reclaimed pallet wood. Each board is unique just by the virtue of the materials being used! Every board is a random mirrored lamination of different species of hardwood, whatever happens to be in season in my local pallets. These are a functional wood replica of the original Penny style mini cruiser boards, matching the hatched pattern in the top of the board, just with a flat tail (and I even made a couple with angled tales, because I hate myself). They work just as good as the original but increase your style points by at least 200% (up to 300% with the right combination of wood).

I'm currently obsessed with incorporating complicated CNC cuts and patterns as a feature in other handmade pieces so that's how this project originated. The grid pattern on the top is almost an exact match to the original Penny even with a circle in the center for a logo and circles around the mounting hardware.

Step 1: Materials & Tools List


> Pallet wood (1 pallet will make a little more than 2 skateboards)

> Wood glue

> Walnut veneer (for hand carved skateboard)

> Contact cement

> 2 sided tape

> Penny board trucks and wheels

> Lacquer


> ISOtunes hearing protection

> Thickness planer

> Table saw

> Feather boards

> Rockler crosscut sled

> Rockler silicone mats

> Rockler bar clamps

> Glue roller bottle

> X-Carve CNC

> 1/8" end mill

> 60 degree v-bit

> Olfa knife

> Laminate roller

> Bandsaw

> Disk sander

> Rockler router lift

> Rockler rabeting bit set

> Rockler compact router plate

> Palm router

> Rockler bench dog push bloc

> Rockler insty drive drill bit set

> Random orbital sander

> Shop vac cart

> Screw clamp

> Arbortech TurboPlane grinding disk

> Angle grinder

> Sanding sponge

> Rockler HVLP sprayer

Step 2: Milling the Raw Materials

First step is to acquire the right pallet wood. We searched the stacks for some hardwood pallets and found some promising looking material (DISCLAIMER: always ask for permission before you take pallets, check the stamp on the side of the pallet, and never eat pallet wood. If you don't know what you're looking at be sure to do your research first, pallet wood has been known to give kittens cancer just by looking at it.). Anyways... my friends insisted that the best way to take apart the pallets was by dragging them behind their van, hard to argue with that logic!

With the raw materials acquired, it all starts at the thickness planer. All of the pallet slats are sent through here to clean them up and get each of the faces smooth. I keep sending them through until I'm happy with what each of the faces looks like and then set that piece aside. Because of this I end up getting a cool random pattern of different thickness since some slats end up much thinner than others.

Each slat is ripped down into as many 1" strips as I can get out of them. The pieces will be glued up on edge so this will give me a 1" thick board. I'm actually aiming for 3/4" finish thickness so this gives me enough room for some of the pieces that are still a little warped or even have a rough edge on them. Last step to mill the pieces is to cut them all down to the same length (I make sure to cut off the ugliest end of the board).

Step 3: Laminating the Panels

I ended up gluing 3 skateboards up at once, so I marked them out so I knew which side of the strips went up, but also to remind me to leave glue out between each of the 3 boards. Glue is applied to each of the strips with a glue roller bottle and then everything is clamped up using bar clamps and clamping cauls across the center of the board to make sure all the pieces were aligned.

I had my friends Dylan and Molly (@ woodbrew) in my shop this week helping me out, so I got to teach them all of the ins and outs of the pallet wood lamination process. I think they enjoyed it just as much as I did!

After letting those boards sit to dry for the night, we take them out of the clamps. He hasn't quite gotten the technique down so I lent a hand, practice makes perfect kiddo.

Step 4: Cleaning Up the Panels and Preparing the CNC

Each of these planks can then be sent through the planer to smooth all of the pieces down flush. The planks are just flipped back and forth with the worst face up until both are smooth and then it's just a matter of bringing them down to 3/4" finished thickness.

The kids then mount their work piece in the CNC before cutting out the pattern, but I decided to show them up with my own hand carved texture.

Step 5: Preparing the Hand Carved Board

Really, I just like to always show off a hand technique whenever I do one with the CNC to show that you shouldn't use a lack of a machine as an excuse, your 2 hands are all you need. But that doesn't make for as good of a story-line so let's prove those kids wrong that computers aren't the only way to go! I start by gluing a piece of walnut veneer on top of this plank using contact cement. The cement is spread on each surface and left to dry until it's tacky, which is when the pieces are then put in contact with one another and pushed down with a laminate roller.

I make a pattern of the Penny Board in Illustrator and print that out to use to trace out the key features onto my board so I know where to cut. I use carbon paper for this. The border of the circles and the border of the board are really the only important lines for me and I can just wing the rest of it, take that kids.

Step 6: Cutting and Carving Out the Leopard Print

I use these guidelines to cut the board out to size on the bandsaw and then smooth the edges down and bring it into the line using the disk sander.

Now the outer edge "lip", or whatever you want to call it, is all just a consistent line so I can cut that out on the router table. I have this rabeting router bit set from Rockler with different sized bearings, so I just pick the bearing that gives me the right depth of cut and cut that around the perimeter. This board is going to have an angled tail on it though so you'll notice a couple of tick marks on the right side where I don't want to cut so I have the full amount of material when I make the finger joint later.

And then start the super tedious and painful process of cutting out the pattern by hand, I mean IT'S SUPER EASY AND MEDITATIVE AND FUN, KIDS. Anyway, I went with a leopard print pattern inspired by my buddy Kyle Toth. He does this a lot on fine furniture pieces and it's a cool organic pattern that can be achieved by hand so I decided to give it a shot myself.

Step 7: CNC Carving the Board

Meanwhile, the CNC is hard at work cutting out the other board with the real Penny Board grid. We, I mean they, start with a roughing pass with a 1/8" bit to hog out most of the materials.

After the roughing pass is complete, the bit is swapped out for a 60 degree v-nose bit to complete the detail pass. You can see the diamond pattern forming starting from the bottom of the board. It also does an awesome job with text since it can achieve some really fine details in sharp corners. Also worth mentioning that this seem like an easy couple of steps, but with all that detail it's quite a bit of cutting time, a little under 4 hours total to be exact.

Step 8: Shaping the CNC Cut Board

The CNC carved boards only get cut on the border to half of the depth to save time since it's easy to use that line as a guideline to cut the piece to size on the bandsaw.

Whatever is left behind from that cut is then removed using a flush trim bit in the router table. This is a great before and after shot here so you can see how clean of a surface is really left behind.

Step 9: Painting the Board

With the top pattern all established, we apply a coat of paint to the top of the board. For this one we ended up going with all black for a really cool high contrast look, and for the board with the tail I just ended up coloring the logo portion with my orange color and leaving the rest raw to you could still see all of the wood #punnotreallyintendedbutthereitisanyway

To remove most of the paint I use a utility knife. Running this along the surface sideways scraps up the majority of the paint on the top surface.

The rest of the paint is removed with a light sanding with my random orbital sander and then the dust is blown from the lower portions with my air compressor to reveal the final look. All of the entire grid pattern is left in raw wood along with the center logo, I'm actually a really big fan of this look.

Step 10: Rounding the Corners

Next the edges can be rounded over at the router table. On the Woodbrew board a half inch round over is used on the bottom and a 1/16" round over is used on the top for a slightly softened edge. They just wanted a simple round-over on their board, but I have something sweet and sexy up my sleeve for my board!

Step 11: Cutting the Finger Joints

It's not super practical to make that shape out of wood though just because making the joint strong enough is next to impossible. Finger joints were the strongest, but making a 30 degree finger joint is quite tricky and lining up the pattern on both pieces is even trickier. For the boards with the angled tails, I separate them by cutting each of them with the same amount of excess material using the bandsaw. This means that when I cut the finger joint to join them together there will be excess material but it will be the same amount so the pattern will meet up at the joint. This 30 degree finger joint turned out to be quite tricky, normally you can clamp your pieces together when they're sitting vertical while cutting normal box joints, but for this that wasn't possible so I stuck the tail to the board with some really strong double stick tape.

This is a better look at the angled box joint jig setup. The jig is just a few pieces of plywood attached together at a 30 degree angle and then attached to my miter gauge. There is then a pin equal in thickness to the kerf cut on the blade just like a regular box joint jig.

The pin is offset exactly by the thickness of the kerf of the blade so it leaves behind a finger that fits into the slot in the opposing piece. Each of these slots is cut and then both pieces are moved over by 1 position for the next cut. You'll notice that the 2 pieces of the board are also offset by the thickness of the cut, this will ensure that when I flip the tail over that the pattern on the top of the board will line up (theoretically...).

Step 12: Gluing the Finger Joints

So good news and bad news. I did a couple of test cuts in scrap pieces that ended up perfectly, but this one not so much. The finger joints themselves were perfect, but something got bumped out of place during the process because the grid pattern in the top did not line up between the 2 pieces. It was off by about 1/16 inch, but that's still too much for me.

What I ended up doing is just cutting material out of the fingers of the boards to end up with a sloppy joint between the 2 pieces. Definitely not ideal, but this gave me the wiggle room that I needed to then align the pattern in the top of the board. Because there were now gaps in the fingers though, I couldn't use wood glue like normal. I used a 2 part epoxy instead and just flooded the joints with it, which absorbed in between the fingers and hardened to fill all of the gaps.

Step 13: Cleaning Up the Finger Joint

Once the epoxy was fully cured, the excess fingers along with the top puddle of epoxy was all cut down flush with the face of the board on the bandsaw. Whatever was left at that point was then sanded flush with the surface.

On the bottom side of the board there were some small gaps where the fingers met and epoxy was able to drip through, so I just used my Dremel to clean up any of the excess epoxy. This was an easy task for the leopard print, not so much for for the diamond pattern. The board with the diamond pattern was a huge mess and took a little while to clean up, so we'll just enjoy this pretty picture instead and pretend that never happened.

This is the end result of that whole thing. It's actually kind of a cool look if you didn't know it wasn't on purpose. The epoxy ended up really accentuating the box joint which could be good or bad depending on how you ask. The good news is that it is actually quite strong. You'll also notice I drilled out the mounting holes for the trucks at this point. I used a countersink bit so that the screws sit below the top surface of the board.

Step 14: Laying Out for Power Carving

Now it's time for the fun part that I've been waiting for. I don't want no simple router bit round over on the bottom edge of my board, we're power carving, baby!! I measure down from the top edge by 1/4" and bring that mark all the way around the perimeter of the board.

I also then trace out the plate that mounts the truck to the board. These 2 lines will act as guidelines while power carving. The line around the perimeter is the extend for how deep I want to carve and the line around the trucks is where I want to keep untouched so the trucks have a flat place to mount to.

Step 15: Power Carving the Bottom of the Board

My weapon of choice is the Arbortech TurboPlane power carving disk. This has 3 carbide teeth on the face of the disk which will slice away at the material nice and gently but also hog off the material pretty quite.

So I just simply run the power carving disk along the bottom surface of the board. I take off small passes at different angles so I can feather the center of the board down to that thinner profile line at the edge of the board. This works out nicely too because it's cutting along the direction of the grain so it leaves behind are really smooth surface.

Here you can see a little closer up me feathering the edge down. All I need is to follow the guidelines and leave the flat spot for the trucks and all will be right in the world.

Step 16: Finish Sanding, Finishing, and Attaching Hardware

Once I'm done carving I then use my random orbital sander to ease that edge down even further. The TurboPlane leaves behind a tiny bit of texture so a few passes with this and then some hand sanding brings the curves down perfectly smooth.

With a finish sanding up to 220 grit on the top and bottom surface of the boards, it's time for finish. I bring the boards outside and spray on 4 coats total of satin lacquer. The lacquer brings out the awesome color in the pallet wood but mostly protects the wood and because it's satin, it's still pretty grippy.

And last step before taking these things out for a spin is to attach the hardware and trucks! We each got to try our boards out, each in our own unique way.

Step 17: Taking Them for a Spin!

Step 18: Glamour Shots

This is my special Jackman edition of the board with thinner strips than the rest of them because I had those left over from a previous project. Still all reclaimed pallet wood.

Also the Woodbrew edition of the board in all black.

And finally an actual Penny Board in the center for comparison.

And we ended up making one out of plywood too just to test out the material and ended up with pretty good results. I'm biased so my preference is definitely the pallets boards but these looked cool too!

Step 19: Custom Boards

I also ended up going a little crazy and made a few more custom boards just because... I make the rules around here!

Anyway, thanks so much for sticking around to the end of the build. And as always, click on that YouTube video down below for the full Jackman experience!


Thirsty for more? You can also find me in other places on the interwebs!

My Website: Essentially my entire life

YouTube: Me, in moving picture form

Instagram: Preview my projects as they progress #nofilter

Twitter: Riveting thoughts, in very small doses


Note: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting what I do!