In our dining room, we have a large, open wall. With our table in the room, the wall felt very bare and we wanted to fill it with some farmhouse style decor. What better way than with a stained, pallet wood Gather Sign?
For this build, the pallet wood needed to be somewhat milled. I do not have a jointer or electric planer yet, so needed to use what I have: a router and hand plane. This can also be knocked out over a long weekend for a relatively quick turnaround.
Step 1: Prepare Pallet Slats
Before the pallet slats are useable, they must be broken down. I find it is fastest to simply saw the slats away from the sides. I used a jig saw, but a circular saw, reciprocating saw, or even a hand saw would also work well. Once the sides have been cut away, the slats can be puled from the middle with a crowbar.
The next step to prepare the slats is to joint one edge. Although a jointer or jointer sled for the table saw would be most ideal, I have neither of those. The hand plane could flatten one long edge, but the router is a little faster. One side of the router fence can be offset to create a vertical jointer jig of sorts. This is how I jointed the long edge of the slats to finalize the prep.
Step 2: Cut Slats to Size
With one edge jointed, the slats can be ripped to their final width. The jointed edge should be paced against the fence and all slats run through to make them the same width.
Before cutting to final length, I drew up an overall plan. For consistency, I wanted the overall row lengths to only be three sizes. The individual lengths in the row did not matter as much, but I did want to stagger each seam. I used Sketch Up to create this plan with dimensions. With that complete, I cut each slat to final length at the table saw with my cross cut sled.
Step 3: Assemble Sign
I had a scrap piece of 1/2" plywood that was sized perfectly to be a backer for our sign. The backer is mainly there for ease of assembly and to add a little extra strength. If you don't have a scrap piece available, the size just needs to be an inch less than the overall height and minimum row width on all sides.
For assembly, the first slat piece is the most critical. If this one is placed correctly and square, all of the other pieces will fall into place. Mark the slat's location on the plywood with a pencil and apply glue inside that area. Once it is in place, shoot in a few brad nails from the plywood side.
Next the hand plane is used to flatten the slats. The brad nails would interfere with this step, so make sure they are applied from the back only and are short enough. With the first piece installed, repeat for the rest of the row. Then, repeat for the remaining rows.
Step 4: Flatten & Finish
After the glue has had some time to set up, use a hand plane to roughly flatten the slats to each other. Here, the goal is not to be perfectly flat so we can keep some of the rustic charm of the pallet wood. After hand planing, use an orbital sander (or hand sand) to knock down any roughness.
For finish, we used a thinned gray stain. The thinning was to highlight the grain in the wood a bit more than the color of stain we picked would have at full density. We applied only one coat, but apply as necessary to get to your desired color. We also used this method to compliment the colors of our dining table.
For the letters, we used a vinyl cutter to cut wax paper into a cut out of our Gather Letters. This gave us a stencil to paint inside. If you don't have a vinyl cutter, you can still manually cut out your letters to create a stencil.
Step 5: Install Hardware & Hang
The mounting hardware needs to be rated to hold the weight of the sign. Because of the combination of plywood and real wood, ours proved to be on the heavier end. Fortunately, our room had studs behind the area we wanted to mount.
Find the center of where you want to mount. Then mark studs away from the center. I found it easiest to put tape on a level and mark the center and stud locations on it. This way, when you install the hardware, you do not have to measure, you simply go off your marks. A similar, relative measurement can be done for the vertical alignment as well.
Install the hardware on the sign, then install screws in the studs and hang your new decor!
Step 6: Enjoy Your Pallet Decor
We have been very happy with this Pallet Decor sign. It compliments our dining room set and breaks up the wall exactly as we want. It was a great, quick build that turned out to be almost free! We did have to buy the stain, but everything else was reclaimed and repurposed.
If you would like any additional details, I have a more detailed article on my website here. If you have any questions, please reach out to me either here, through my site's contact page, or on Instagram. Happy building!