Inspirational Wall Hanging




Introduction: Inspirational Wall Hanging

About: Part man, part machine -- all awesome!

This idea stemmed from something I found in an industrial design catalog.  It wasn't the furniture for sale that caught my eye, but rather the wall treatment in the background.  They had used rough hewn lumber mounted over a concrete wall.  Since I didn't want to redo the entire wall in my rental, I felt something more mobile would be appropriate.

Step 1: Lumber

For the trusty, reliable (and free) reclaimed lumber I nabbed a pallet headed for the garbage.  Make sure to remove all the nails.  I tend to get immersed in my work, so I forgot to take additional photos, but I used a table saw to cut pieces to a consistent size and a planar to smooth things out.  For this particular project, an orbital sander should work fine.

Step 2: Steel Frame

Since I had scrap left over from a previous project, I used 3/4" cold rolled steel for a frame.  This was roughly 20" x 50".  When marking the hole to drill I took into account the width of the board as well as the gap between to make sure I had the center all down the length.  MIG weld the corners and grind smooth so that everything lays flat (doesn't need to be pretty since it will be hidden).  Proper work holding is important!  Even with multiple precautions, the boards still started to drift towards the end and I needed to go back and touch up some.

Step 3: Design

If I stopped here, I would basically have a smaller version of what I saw in the magazine.  However, I had something a little more artistic in mind.  The great part about this step is the diversity available!  Pick an inspirational quote and find a picture of the author (or vice versa), it's up to you.

This will require some Photoshop wizardry, but basically convert the image into greyscale and adjust the levels until you reach (or come close to) a black and white image.  The main thing is to create a stencil.  From here, either use Illustrator ("live trace" command) or CorelDraw ("outline trace" command) to convert the image into a vector outline.  Because of the level of detail, I used a CNC vinyl cutter, but this would still be doable with a large print out and x-acto knife if you had a simpler design (or a lot of patience).

I used old vinyl that no one wanted (might have been the color...) since I just needed it for masking.  Use transfer paper to get the portrait and lettering onto the wood slats.

Step 4: Paint and Peel

I used regular black latex paint that was sitting around the shop.  Some of the lettering didn't come out as well since the reclaimed lumber was inconsistent, and planing just wasn't enough.  A colleague recommended spraying polyurethane across the vinyl BEFORE painting to help seal the edges. (Nice!)

In the end, this project was done in a day by using up scrap -- basically this is my version of cleaning!  All free, too.

Don't have the tools?  Come down to TechShop and I'll show you how to use them!  Don't live near a TechShop?  Then get with your friends and community to build your own workshop or hacker space!



    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Fix It! Contest

      Fix It! Contest
    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest

    32 Discussions

    I tweaked your idea a bit by using a small skid and using a wooden frame instead of metal. I dont know how to weld so I improvised. I also did not have access to a vinyl printer so I used my projector and Photoshop to layout my design. Then hand painted the design. Thanks for the great instructable!


    Well done! This looks amazing!! I find that the stamp filter in photoshops produces a nice stencil.

    1 reply

    made it!


    Very cool. Thanks for the great idea. Keep it up.


    4 years ago

    Would you be able to share what is the overall size? looks terrific!

    1 reply

    I don't recall the exact numbers, but it was something irregular due to the reclaimed lumber I found. Roughly 18-22" wide and ~60" tall (or 50 x 120cm). The nice part is this can change with whatever material you have available.

    You could probably sell these for like $200-$300 a piece and make some money.

    2 replies

    4 years ago

    looks really good. Ive decided to give this a go ive got a pallet and have cut the pieces down to size and sanded them down, but instead of using a frame to hold it together im threading a piece of rope through each piece so i can hang it on my door. Can you help me as i don't make things very often, do you have to prep the wood after sanding before i spray my stencil on? Thank You.

    1 reply

    Sanding should be enough before the stencil. The important part with the stencil is a good seal, so if you are using vinyl or some kind of tape for the masking polyurethane can help. Otherwise if you are cutting a stencil out of a hardboard, the more rigid the better and find weights to help hold it down. You can brush on latex paint if the surface is smooth enough, otherwise aerosol for porous. Either way go light with the paint and do multiple layers.

    Most important of all: if you are new at something, practice! You will always learn something with a trial run, it takes some of the pressure away, and your final piece will turn out better. Have fun.

    Great stuff. I would've thought to join the pallet wood with wood bars for roof batten (had to look it up, not sure if I'm using the word correctly). Much lighter and probably cheaper than the metal - and most likely easier to work with, too.
    On a smaller scale this could make great presents, too.

    2 replies

    Since I don’t have a welder, I wouldn't have used metal either, but here is one thing to consider when doing all wood construction for something like this.
    Wood isn't dimensionally stable. As the seasons change and the humidity changes, wood grows and shrinks. Not always in a predictable manner, either. Since this image goes across different boards that are of unknown origin, they will most likely move at different rates and that could make the design appear odd at certain times. Metal is stable so it will mitigate that to a large degree. If the backing were furring strips, for instance (that's what I'd have used) the face AND the backing can warp now, and twist, and do all sorts of exciting things, and it's likely the overall quality of the piece would degrade over time. This dimensional instability is why raised panel cabinet doors use a floating panel instead of one glued into the frame, over time the wood would split if it couldn't move around in there.
    However, with wood you can use free materials to complete the work, and that is appealing. I’m gonna try this concept soon, and thanks for the great instructable!

    PS- engineered wood, like MDF and plywood and hardboard, ARE dimensionally stable. It's just the real deal from a tree that dances around like I am describing. And the movement is far greater across the grain than along it. Sealing it entirely can mitigate it, but it's still gonna dance.

    The key here is to go with what is available! Steel can actually be rather light (I used 16 gauge), cheap (purchased from a warehouse), and easy to work with.... IF you have the right tools (that's the trick). A wood frame works great for this project, but if you want to learn how to weld find a way! It's really fun and rewarding.

    Question: when your coworker suggested spraying the vinyl before painting, when would you do that step? Before or after cutting? That's the only thing that stumped me. I'm thinking it would hinder painting if you applied it AFTER laying the vinyl down on the wood.

    2 replies

    Put the vinyl stencil down, then spray aerosol polyurethane and let dry before painting. The idea is to get a better seal around the edges of the stencil to prevent the paint from bleeding under. I thought this was strange too when I first heard the idea, but the polyurethane is clear and it will be completely painted over so it shouldn't be visible.