DIY repurposed pallet sign with hand painted letters for little girl’s room

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DIY repurposed pallet sign | Lazy K Designs

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So this isn’t my first repurposed pallet sign, but I’ve had so many people ask how I make these that I wanted to show a quick step-by-step process.

They’re not hard once you get the hang of them, but they can be tedious.

Lucky for you I’ve figured out how to cut as many corners as possible. You’re welcome.

Supplies you will need:

  • Pallet boards
  • Sandpaper
  • Nail gun
  • Paint
  • Paint pen
  • Poly
  • Pencil or pen
  • Carbon paper
  • Eye hooks and wire for hanging

First thing I do is make my hubby dismantle the pallets. I then lay out the pallets so they fit together nicely and measure the full size, i.e. 24×48 inches. This tells me how large I need to make my canvas when I’m designing my saying in PhotoShop. Few things to note. The pallets will not fit together perfectly and they don’t need to…it’s supposed to look repurposed and reclaimed. Also, I quickly sand each piece before nailing them together just to get rid of any dirt or rough edges. My sweet hubby then lays three thin boards on the board and secures them using a nail gun.

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Now it’s time to paint. Choose whatever color you wish and paint the boards. I usually do two coats. Make sure you do the sides as well. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. I leave all the original nails in the boards and don’t worry if a few from my hubby show through too.

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OK, now I take a break from the barn and head inside to print out my words. I’ve already designed my words in PhotoShop, making sure my canvas size is the same as my pallet sign. Here’s the tricky part: In order to be able to print it off on my little home printer, I have to slice my full image into 8.5″x11″ rectangles so that it can fit on a standard sheet of paper. I use my grid lines to do this, and then use my crop tool (preset to 8.5″x11″), to crop each grid area. Hit print. Go back to your image and choose Edit > Undo, and now crop the next grid area. Hit print. Go back to your image and choose Edit > Undo, and now crop the next grid area. You get the picture. Keep doing this until you’ve printed the entire image. For this particular pallet sign, it took me 12 sheets of paper (4 across and 3 down).

Now the fun part. Go buy carbon paper right this minute if you forgot, because it’s the best thing I ever discovered. I got mine for less than $10 at Office Max or Office Depot. I forgot which one.

Lay the carbon paper carbon side down, making sure they overlap a tad. I like to only do one row at a time because it’s less I have to try to keep straight as I work my way down.

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Now, carefully lay out your words sheet by sheet on top of the carbon paper. You will need to overlap them some to help form the letters from one sheet to the other. Make sure it’s fairly centered over the whole sign. Once I get it where I like it, I put a little piece of tape where each sheet overlaps to help keep them aligned.

Grab a pen or a pencil and trace each letter. Again, don’t worry if it’s not perfect. This is just giving you a stencil that you will paint over later, so if you need to correct any lines or curves later, it can be done.

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The cool thing about carbon paper is that it can be used over and over…doesn’t matter how many times you’ve used it. Once I’m done with my first row, I carefully lift up the words and move the carbon paper down to the next row, overlapping a little. I lay my next row of words on top, overlap and tape, and then trace each letter.

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When I’m done with my second row, I move everything down one last time to trace my final row of letters.

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Tracing letters is the part that I dislike the most, but once I’m done, I have a little dance party and maybe a glass of wine, and then I’m ready to paint! You don’t have to do this, but I like to trace my letters with a paint pen first. I only have a black and a white paint pen, so this only works if I want my words to be black or white. For some reason, tracing them first gives me a boundary for when I’m painting later, but you can just start painting if you’d like. I just use a simple satin latex paint from Lowes and a really small, angled paint brush (from the craft section at any store). Then I get to work.

See how well the carbon paper transfers my outline over? Carbon paper is the bomb for most of my craft projects.

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After I’ve traced with my white paint pen.

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And after I’ve painted in all my letters! I’ve gotten pretty fast at this, but it does take time. I either wait until my kids are napping or until my hubby is home to preoccupy them. Usually this is a weekend project, so my hubby drinks beer and watches the Aggies on TV while holding our son and entertaining our daughter, and I’m able to focus on this. But I’m right next to the living room in case we score a touchdown.

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Final two steps, and these are optional. I like to distress my signs. I know, after all my hard work, it’s still hard for me to take off a lot of the paint that I so carefully put on, but I’m always happy with the finished product. So I take some medium grit sand paper and sand the corners and sides of my signs pretty heavily. I try to go over the whole sign fairly lightly so that I don’t accidentally take off entire letters, but as you can see, it even looks ok if you do. For some reason, distressing just really makes the words blend into the sign like they were meant to be there.

Poly. Last thing I do is put two coats of a satin top coat on my signs. I’m a big fan of top coat on every project I paint, whether it will be used a lot or not. For some reason, I just like the idea of protecting all my hard work. Plus, since I use a satin top coat, it gives a little shine to my sign and makes the wood pop where I distressed it. You can use a normal poly from any hardware store, but since I’m also into boutique chalk paints for my furniture projects, I’m in love with my satin top coat from Southern Plantation Studio in Calvert. It’s chemical free and my brushes can be cleaned with just soap and water, which is not true for the traditional poly you can buy from places like Lowes or Home Depot. So, if you live close by, stop in and check out their line of paints and finishes. Sarah and her Mom will help answer any questions you have too.

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After applying my top coat, I let the sign dry overnight in the barn. Then I beg my husband to hang it the next day when he gets home from work. He is Mr. Play It Safe, so he likes to put two eye hooks on each side and then string wire through both. He also likes to put an anchor in the wall to make sure the weight of the sign isn’t too much for our sheetrock. Our signs never fall down. He hangs and levels, and I direct him where it needs to be. We make an awesome sign-hanging team.

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And there you go. Done! I don’t usually put anything else on my signs, but for Kassidy’s, I happened to have an extra metal flower that I thought was just perfect for it. I just used JB Weld. It bonds in 6 minutes.

So, there you have it. I love the idea of being able to customize my home decor to represent who we are as a family. And this particular sign idea fits Kassidy perfectly. And as an added bonus, all the pallets came from when we built our home, so I like the idea that I’m repurposing something that we used to build our life together.

Now, on to my next project! It’s finally Barrett’s turn.

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