Tuesday, January 7, 2014


I thought I'd take a break from the patio posts today to talk about a fun DIY project that I created last summer. It's a pallet wood sign with a fun phrase and a familiar outline (our sweet lab McKinney).

As we worked on the yard renovation, Ryan took to purchasing tools. Lots of tools. One of these purchases was a Craftsman Rototiller, which was delivered on a perfectly sized pallet to create a piece of pallet art. Obviously, I'm not the first person to think of painting on a pallet, but I had the perfect phrase in mind, so I took the opportunity to jump on that bandwagon with both feet.

The tiller actually came packaged sandwiched in two wooden pallets. The pallet frames were already perfectly sized for some art at 26.5"x34", so we broke down one pallet and set those boards into the gaps between the boards in the other. I was pleasantly surprised that the varying board widths fit together perfectly. Here's Ryan helping me put the base together.

Once we had the boards where we wanted them, we tacked them down using a finish nailer. We also whacked the wood with a hammer to give it the rustic look I was going for.

Ryan proclaimed his work was done, and it was time for me to work my magic. I started by giving the pallet a coat of wood stain. We had a medium brown stain by DuraSeal on hand from when we had our floors redone, and it was a perfect rich brown color. I just rubbed it on with a rag, then wiped off the excess after letting it soak in for a few minutes.

The pallet looked a little plain so I tried giving it some it dimension using craft paint. I liked the look of the paint effect that was done here, and only sort of failed at creating a similar effect.

I brushed on some light turquoise and pale yellow acrylic paint using a foam craft brush, then quickly wiped any excess with a paper towel.

I also hit spots with a sanding block to give it that rustic feel.

With my "canvas" looking close to where I'd envisioned it, I was excited to create the real artwork. Here at 231 we are big beer drinkers (like seriously, we have a commercial kegerator out back and everything). We also love dogs, especially our lab McKinney. I'd seen this phrase someplace and immediately stored it away in my memory, knowing it was perfect for us. This was the perfect occasion to put it to work!

I created the design above using Adobe Illustrator. I actually borrowed the dog image from this fun pallet art, and added a tail. The silhouette looks exactly like our McKinney, so it was perfect!

I created the Illustrator file to the exact size of the pallet base (26.5 x 34 in), so when it was time to print everything was already to scale. Illustrator has a great tile print setting (for printing one image on multiple pages to size), and I was sure to create some overlap between the pages to aid me when taping everything together.

Every printer is different, but these were my settings above (I have CS 5 and a Canon inkjet). The tile print setting is under the general setting options.

I printed all 15 pages and taped them together, using the overlap as a guide.

To transfer the image to the pallet I used the chalk method. I rubbed chalk all over the back of the paper, then used a ballpoint pen to trace the outline of the design on to the pallet. You can find tutorials here and here.

The method worked okay, but was far from perfect. If you look hard at the image below you can see the outline of the letters in the upper right hand corner of the image, and the pup on the lower left, but I had to "wing it" a bit with some of the letters. Luckily I'm pretty good with typography, and the chalk got me just far enough that I knew where to place everything.

Next came the most time intensive step of the project, filling in my chalk outlines with paint. I used Martha Stewart gold metallic paint and a small bristled craft brush. I started by outlining the letters and pup image, then filled them in with gold.

I let the paint dry for a couple hours, then painted over everything with a second coat.

And here's the finished product! My adorable pallet art is currently living on our back deck (that we affectionately call the Cobblestone Biergarten). Eventually I'd like to add a couple eye hooks on the back and hang it on the wall, but for now it's just leaning on a table against the wall. We actually hide McKinney's tennis balls in the space between the pallet and the wall, which works double duty!

All in all, I'd say the project took about six hours to complete, which is far from quick and easy in my opinion. But it reflects us perfectly and we always get comments on it when we have people over, so it was definitely worth it. I've even had requests from friends to make them one of their own (you know, with all my spare time)! We'll see if I ever get around to it.


  1. I love this artwork! Something like this would be perfect for my husband man porch. Thanks so much for this inspiration! I'm pinning!

  2. I love this so much! I need to make one!

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