How to Make a Rustic Pallet Wood Sign

I made a rustic sign out of pallet wood for my son's room. It turned out great. Watch the video below to see how I did it or keep reading for all of the details. 


Before our third child, Alexander, was born, we wanted to really make his room unique for him. We didn't want to spend a lot, so we considered more of a rustic look, and I decided I would build much of what we wanted in his room. One of these items included a rustic pallet wood sign with a modern flair to it. 

I had made a similar sign to go over our laundry room previously, and had bought a vinyl stencil from an etsy shop to make that one. This time, I wanted to try my hand at creating my own stencil. 


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Table Saw -

Circular Saw -

Nail Gun -

Air Compressor -

Wood Glue -

Jigsaw -

Painter's Tape -

Spray Lacquer -

X-Acto Knife -

Spray Paint (buy locally)



Break Down Pallets 

There are many ways to break down pallets into usable materials. I'm not going to go into that here, but just search out "how to break down a pallet" and you'll find plenty. For these particular pallet boards, they still have the nail holes intact. 

I have learned from past projects using pallet wood that one of the biggest frustrations is that nothing is the same size. Therefore, I used my jointing jig to create one straight side on the board. Then, I flipped it around and ripped the other side off. I did this to all of the boards, and made them all the same width. This would help me later when I needed to develop the pattern. 

Paint & Stain

I wanted three distinct colors for this sign, so I decided on black, gray and natural. For the black, I used some cheap spray paint. (HINT: don't pay $4 for a nice can or spray paint for something like this. Just buy the cheap stuff for about $ will work just fine)

For the gray, I used a driftwood stain, because I wanted to see the wood grain show through a bit. This turned out nice, and I have since used this stain quite a few times. 


Prepare whatever you're going to use to nail the pallet wood onto. I'm using a scrap piece of 3/4" plywood I had lying around. I am using a method that I saw Bob Clagett from I Like To Make Stuff do. He cut out some of the plywood, cut a French cleat into it and attached it to the board again. It will act like an integrated French cleat. 


Arrange all of the pallet wood how you want it. Then, use a little bit of glue and nail it to the backboard. I used some finish nails for this. 


I let the pieces of pallet wood overhang the edge. This allowed me to clamp a straight edge on the sign after they were all connected and trim it flush with a circular saw. Then, once I got one side flush, I took it over to my table saw and trimmed the other side flush. 


Next, I turned my attention to the stencil to put the name on the sign. As I mentioned in the video, I had previously purchased a stencil for a Laundry sign I made to go over our laundry room door. I wanted to see if I could make one this time, rather than buying it. 

I started out by laying out some freezer paper, and then putting some painter's tape down on it with the sticky side toward the freezer paper. I was going to use the freezer paper like transfer paper on some stencils. Then, I printed out the name I wanted, attached it to the tape I had laid out, and cut it out. Be sure to keep the little inside pieces of "A" or "B" or "D" because you will need to stick them to the board later in order for your letters to look right. 

Then, peeled off the freezer paper and attached it to the sign where I wanted the name. I actually attached one end of the name to the board first and peeled as I stuck more down, just to make sure it didn't get too unruly. 


Now, it is time to paint. I masked off everything except the stencil and used some cheap, white spray paint to spray on the name. Then, I removed the stencil. 

I wanted to put a little modern flare on the sign, so I decided that a thin box around it would look nice. I created this box by simply laying out some more painter's tape in a shape that looked nice. Then, I masked off the main name and everything else, sprayed the thin box with the same white spray paint and removed the tape. 


I installed the French cleat onto the wall using some sheetrock anchors I had never seen previously. They were rated for plenty of weight. The only thing I had to watch out for was to NOT hit a stud. This type of anchor will not go into a stud. So, I had to mark were the studs were and make sure to work around them. They just hammer into place and allow you to screw into them. 

Finally, I just hung the sign on the wall! It looks great in his room. I love the way it turned out and my wife loves it too! 

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Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Will you build a sign for yourself?