Introduction: Rustic Wooden American Flag Build

About: We are a family of six who left the city to live and grow on 20 acres. We like to make things and reuse things and build from the land. Enjoy!

This rustic hand made wooden American flag is a great conversation piece and is a stunning display of American heritage. It is also a fun and relatively easy project to complete using the process we share in this instructable.. It is important to get the specific red stains for the stripes.. we tried a few and this was best

The wood flag will make a wonderful addition to any room in your home or business.

Flag Dimensions:

  • 19.5" Width
  • 43.25" Length
  • 10.5" Width of Union (Blue Star Area)
  • 14.82" Length of Union (Blue Star Area)

Dimensions/ratios can be referenced at the link below if wish to do a different size flag:

Flag Materials & Tools Needed

  • Safety Goggles
  • Wood Glue (optional)
  • Wood for Stripes- (Qty 7)1 1/2" inches x 3/4", pine boards. Sold in 8 ft lengths at Menards, Lowes
  • Wood for Union/star area. We used pine cut to size. Menards and many home improvement stores also sell pine and spruce which are precut and glued in larger dimensions. Make sure it is 3/4" high (most of the pine boards sold are. Want to be sure the Union/star area is the same height as the stripes.
  • Stencil or Cricut Machine (to cut out stars for painting Union/star area
  • Wood for Plywood backer. We used a pre-cut 2 foot x 4 foot piece of 1/2 plywood
  • Stain- we used Sedona Red 222 Minwax wood stain
  • Stain Pad to apply stain
  • Spray paint for Union (Blue Star Area)- We used Rust-Olem Satin Midnight Blue
  • Cricut machine or stencil for 50 stars. We used a cricut machine. Contact us to purchase a custom sized stencil. Or purchase a stencil online. Search Amazon for 50 start stencil and find the correct size for your build.
  • Nails- (Small box) we used a small air powered nailer with 1.25 inch nails or you could use a hammer and nails
  • Circular saw (used for final step to trim excess from plywood backer board.
  • Handsaw or Electric Miter Saw to cut stripes to length and to cut Union (Blue Star Area)
  • Small chain with two screws (to use as a last step to hang the flag on the wall)

Step 1: Cut List & Wood Cutting

The first step is to cut your Wood for Stripes down to length. The bottom 6 stripes below the Union Blue/Star Area are full length and should be cut to 43.25". So make 6 cuts at 43.25" each.

The top 6 remaining stripes should be cut at the full length (43.25") minus the width of the Union (Blue/Star Area) which is 14.82". 43.25"-14.82"= 328.43". So cut 7 at 28.43" each.

Finally we need to cut the rectangle for the Union (Blue/Star Area) which should be cut from a large piece of pine or spruce at 10.5 *14.82

Cut List:

  • 6 cuts of the Stripe material (1 1/2" inches x 3/4", pine boards) at 43.25 inches each
  • 7 cuts of the Stripe material (1 1/2" inches x 3/4", pine boards) at 26 inches each
  • cut the Union rectangle (star area)

    10.5 *14.82

Step 2: Assemble the Flag

Place your 2ft x 4ft plywood backer board on a table. You will attach the strips to the plywood and later you will trim the plywood down with a circular saw to be the exact dimension of the flag. You could cut it ahead of time but we did it after.

Now here is the step that streamlines the build and makes it extra fun. Instead of nailing down all of the Stripes and then staining the red strips we use another method. Stain (unlike paint) tends to bleed. If we nailed all the stripes down now and stained every other one red, we would end up with red stain bleeding onto the white stripes. So....

Starting from the lower right corner of the 2ft x 4ft plywood backer, position the bottom stripe flush to the right side of the plywood and perfectly flush to the bottom of the plywood (make sure your plywood is square). We bought ours precut at 2ft x 4ft and it was square with 90 degree corners).

ALSO- if you want a more rustic look position the knots up or the rougher side up. You can also use a sander to rough it up or hit it with a chain or crowbar to make it more rustic looking.

Using your air nailer (or manual hammer and nails) shoot a few nails into this first bottome piece ONLY to secure it. You could optionally also apply some wood glue to the back of this first stripe to make it even more secure, but we did not). Keep in mind the bottom and very top stripes will be red and every other strip in between (in the next step).

Now position the 2nd stripe above BUT DONT nail it in. Now position the 3rd stripe (which will be red eventually) and nail it. Then put another stripe (white) but don't nail it. Keep doing this and ONLY nail/glue down the stripes that will be red. Be sure to still place the white stripes down to get the spacing perfect but only nail the red strips down.

When you get to the shorter stripes next to the Union/star area (the top 7 stripes) be sure the left side of these stripes are flush with the union rectangle piece before you nail any more of the red stripes down. So temporarily position the Union/star rectangle (dont nail it down yet) and be sure the stripes to the right of this are flush to the right side of the Union/star area.

Finally, pull out each stripe which is not nailed down. These will be all the white stripes. Set these aside and keep them stacked in order. Also remove the temporarily placed Union/star rectangle. You will be left with the bottom stripe attached to the plywood and every other (white stripe) removed. So only (soon to be) red stripes are attached.

Step 3: Stain the Stripes

Stain the Red Stripes

Now you can get messy with the Sedona Red 222 wood stain. Using a staining pad apply the stain to each of the stripes that are nailed down. Also apply some stain to the bottom and right edge of the of the plywood. Don't worry about the top and left edge- because we will be trimming that off as a final step.

Start with a light application of stain and allow it to dry. Depending on how rustic you want it- you may want a lighter coat of stain. Once it dries, you can always add more stain.

Allow stain to thoroughly dry.

White Stripes

In our design pictured we did not stain the white stripes. We left them as bare wood with some knots showing to make it look rustic. You could stain these an antique white or leave them unfinished as we did. After the red stripes are thoroughly dry, put the white stripes into place and nail each one down (you could optionally add some wood glue to the bottom of each but we did not).

Step 4: Paint the Union Star Rectangle

Stars- Option 1, Cricut Cutout

For the Union star rectangle (which you already have cut to size) you will need a blue background and 50 stars. To keep with the rustic look we don't want white painted stars, rather we want wood colored stars to match the wood color stripes.

We used our Cricut machine to cut 50 stars to fit within the 12.25" x17.25" rectangle. To do this we found a flag image via Google Image search and we took a screenshot of the blue star rectangle. Then we imported it into the Cricut design center and we resized it to be slightly smaller than 12.25" x17.25. We then printed it on vinyl. Then we used transfer tape to transfer the 50 stars,while keeping their position, then we affixed those stars to the Union/Star area. You can use a credit card or a roller to make sure they stick down securely. Then we spray painted with the Satin Midnight Blue Rustolem paint all over the star Union area.

TIP: Be sure to spray paint a light stream from high above.. less is better. If you spray too much it may bleed under. We spray a light stream from high above and wait a few minutes to let it dry slightly then do another spray and another. If you rush this step the paint may bleed under and you may need to start this part over.

If you don't have a cricut machine, send us a message. We plan to sell custom sized cricut cutouts for this purpose.

We then use a small picker tool or a razor knife would work to pick each star off, revealing the wood beneath each of the 50 star shapes.

Stars- Option 2, Stencil

You could purchase a 50 star stencil (sold on Amazon and elsewhere) but then you would need to paint the stars through the stencil (in the option above we actually stick down 50 stars (using contact paper so they all stay nicely aligned) and paint blue around them. Then we peel the stars off to reveal the wood underneath. So we have wood colored stars. With a stencil you would need to first paint the Union Star area (Satin Midnight Blue Rustolem) allow it to dry and the use a stencil to spray paint white over for each of the 50 stars.

Step 5: Final Assembly

Once your Union rectangle star area is dry and completed. Use your nail gun (or hammer and nails) to secure it down in place.

Next, using a circular saw (and safety goggles) cut the excess plywood from the top and left side of the flag. You can use the flag as a guide, take your time and be safe. Use some painters tape to protect the edge of the flag- and stain the edge of the plywood backer board on the left side and top (where you just cut).

After everything is dry, apply a few coats of polyurethane to seal the wood.

Attache a small chain with two screws to the top of the flag to hang it on the wall.

To learn more about this flag (or if you want to buy one instead of build one) be sure to visit our website with more pictures and details:

We also have a new flag with waves carved into it which made for a fun project as well. Learn more at the link above. Please comment with any questions!

Woodworking Contest 2017

Participated in the
Woodworking Contest 2017