Ben and I love using pallet wood for projects. We’ve built signs, dividing walls, and several other projects. Lately we’ve found that by the time we find it, bring it to the garage, tear it apart, and use it, we’ve invested a lot of time. Luckily, we found a cheap alternative that is such a huge time saver and super cheap: 6′ picket fence boards! We picked up a bunch at our local hardware store for $1.12 a piece and we used them to make this awesome wooden sign for under $10 in lumber.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- (7) 6′ picket fence boards
- 1 can of dark stain
- white paint pen or white paint
- sand paper
- 3/4 inch brad nails
- table saw (or something to cut the boards in half)
- miter saw
- painter’s tape
*The first step in any DIY project is of course, safety. Make sure you wear eye protection, gloves, etc and use tools properly.
The first thing we did was measure out the length of the boards. We measured each board to 39″ from the straight (not the curved) end of the panel. Ours had some staples with tags on the end of each board that we removed with some pliers before we measured. You’ll want to make sure these are removed before you rip the boards on the table saw.
After all the boards were measured out, we took them over to the miter saw. You could also do this with a circular saw or a jig saw if you don’t have a miter saw.
After we had all our boards cut to length, we took all of them over to the table saw and ripped each board in half length-wise to make the stripes.
After this, you should have a stack of 14-39′ x 2.5 ish boards that will become your stripes. You’ll only need 13 of them, but we’ll use the extra for the backing to hold it all together.
Next, you’ll need to sand down all of the boards. You can do this by hand with a sanding block, but you can buy a cheap orbital sander and make this task much easier. Make sure to sand all the sides and tops of each board removing any dirt, rough patches, etc. They don’t have to be perfect, but you’ll at least want to remove the debris from the boards.
Now it’s time to stain some stripes. Do a rough layout of all the boards to see how you want them to fit together. Select the ones you want to stain and put those in a pile. You’ll need 7 dark boards and 6 natural boards. We chose an english chestnut color because we had it on hand and I love the contrast with the natural wood. You can choose whatever stain or stains you’d like. You can even paint it, if that’s more your taste. Make sure you set the ones not being stained in a pile away from the others or you may accidentally stain one that shouldn’t have been (not that we know that by experience or anything). Stain the board on all sides. I realize it might seem like a time waster to stain front and back, but you may find in your final layout that piece might work better flipped and I’ve found it easier to just stain them all at one time. After you stain, them let them dry properly before you move to the next step.
Now comes the fun part. After all your boards have dried, lay them on a flat surface and arrange them how you’d like them. You can use a spare board on one edge to align them and square everything up. We weren’t going for perfect here, but if you are you can always square up the edges on the table saw afterwards. There are many good ways to attach the boards, but our method is one we’ve used for a long time and seems to work well. We measured the width of our flag, and cut three spare pieces to size for the back. Then we simply used wood glue and some 3/4 brad nails to secure them each board. We used a small brad nailer to make quick work of this.
Flip it over and you should be left with something that looks like this:
Now that you have your basic flag shape, its time create the star panel and stars. To do this, we measured14.5″ from the top left and down 10 inches to make a rectangle. We then used painter’s tape to give us a nice edge (it didn’t work) and then we stand the rectangle with the dark stain. Unfortunately, our wood just soaked up the stain and we got some bleeding. If that happens to you, don’t fret, it’s an easy fix. We simply took a straight edge with a sheet of 80 grit sandpaper and cleaned up the edges. Again it wasn’t perfect, but we liked the vintage look.
Now for the stars. You can use a stencil for the stars, but we really wanted a hand drawn vintage look to the stars. We drew a quick grid to keep the stars roughly the same size and then away we drew. All 50 stars. It was a meticulous process, but it turned out so lovely.
Here’s the final product: