United States Rustic Sign

In honor of the 4th of July, I want to share one of my favorite crafts, to date.  It is  pallet sign that, I think, would go well in anyone’s home.



My mom saw this fabric that had the American flag in the shape of the United States.  The background looked like old wood.  She had commented to me how much she loved it and I made a mental note.  (Actually, I put it in my phone.  I have a list of gift ideas for people in my “Notes”.)    For her birthday, I decided to try and mimic that material but do it on pallet wood as a sign so that she could hang it in her home.  This is a relatively easy project and can be done quickly.  The hardest part for me was painting the stars (so small).  I added the “Home of the free because of the brave” because I knew she would like it even more and so do I.  I hand delivered the sign to my mom in June when my nephew graduated from high school.  My sister loved it so I decided to make a second one and send it to her for her birthday and she would have it for the 4th.  She called this morning and said she received it so I'm not ruining the surprise by posting this today.



Wood glue



Sand paper

Computer, printer, paper

Copy paper

Craft paint

Paint pens



Step 1

Find the wood you would like to use.  For me, it was pallet wood all the way.  I wanted the rustic feel and I didn’t want to worry about squaring everything up. 

I decided that I would make the sign 20” x 30” so I cut nine (9) boards to the length of 20”.  This didn’t measure exactly to 30” but it was close and the exact dimensions don’t really matter.  Just decide how big you want it based on where it is going to go. For my mom's sign, I used two different widths of pallet wood (which made the sign closer to 36" wide).  For the second sign, I didn’t have any of the wider plank wood left so I used all of the same size (3 ½” wide).   It made the second sign a bit smaller but still looks great and weighs less since I shipped it.  I do like the wider planks better since there are less seems (where two pieces of wood join together), which makes it easier to paint.



My sisters sign with the equal width boards. Sorry, picture shows already sanded and stained. I forget to take pictures! In fact, if it wasn't for my husband constantly reminding me, I wouldn't have any pictures!






This is the first sign, for my mom. Notice different board widths.  I also like to alternate lighter and darker wood, as well as the nails.



Step 2

Glue your boards together and clamp until dry completely (at least 24 hours).  I didn’t have a clamp big enough to span the 30” so I just used a scrap piece of wood that spanned the back and screwed it in so it would hold all the pieces tightly together.  The first one I made I used two 1x2’s about 34” long.  I didn’t care for how it stuck so far off the wall so for my sister's, I used a piece of wainscoting about 6”x 30”.  This was a lighter option (weight) and it should lay on the wall better.  I have used an entire piece of wood to cover the back of a clock I made so that it doesn’t stick out but this can really add to the weight and you can see that piece of wood from the side all the way around the item (which I do not like).  It was a necessary evil so I could inset the clock mechanism and it could lay flush against the wall. 






Edges of boards glued. These were glued with gorilla glue. I strongly recommend regular wood glue. I had ran out and so used as a substitute but it foams and seems to squish out more.




Larger flat piece of thin wood to keep the sign together.  (This is a different sign but the concept holds true for the US sign).




Back of my Mom's sign.  Another way to keep boards together.



Step 3

Sand and stain (or paint) your sign.  I chose to stain my flag signs.   I think it sets out the shape and colors of the US flag better than a painted one would. 

Allow stain to dry.


Step 4

Find the image you want.  Here is the one that I used. 






Lay out 81/2 x 11” sheets of paper on your sign and see how many it takes to cover.  Mine took 2 sheets (vertically) by 4 sheets (horizontal) so 8 sheets total.  Go to BlockPosters.com (it’s free) and upload your image.  It will ask you how many pieces of paper you need and will then covert your image to that size so you have a poster.  It will tell you how large your poster will be, which is nice so you can double check yourself.  Your sheets of paper don’t always fit evenly so you may have some of them that hang over the edges of your sign and you can make sure that your image will still fit.  This is especially nice when you want the image to take up as much of your sign as possible.  With the flag sign, I wanted a little extra room so that I could add the phrase “Land of the Free because of the Brave”.  Download your large image (I save it to my “craft” folder so I can recreate the craft easily) and print.  Tape them all together cutting off extra blank areas, as needed.  I used transparent tape.  Masking tape or duct tape is too heavy and you can’t see through it to do the next step.  I used the same print out of my poster image for both signs and just added new copy paper to the back of it after the first one.  I intend to make this sign a few more times and will use the same print out (saves time and paper).




Notice the copy sheets under the poser image and the white of the copy paper is up (black side goes on the wood to transfer the carbon).




Step 5

Once you have your poster all put together you will lay out copy paper on your sign and tape it together.  Lay your poster size image on top of the copy paper and tape both to the sign.  I like to trim the copy paper and poster image so that I can lay it out and have an accurate idea of what it will look like. 





Step 6

Trace your image with a pen.  I like to use a ball-point pen as it seems to transfer better than a pencil.  Once your image is traced, remove your image and copy paper one area at a time and check to make sure that it has all transferred or that you didn’t miss any areas.  By removing small sections at a time, you should be able to lay the image back down and trace areas that didn’t transfer. 


This is what the carbon looks like on wood. This picture is from another sign I did (since I forgot to take  a picture).


Step 7


Adding the words and trying to figure out the placement I want.

For the words, I just pull up Word and change the font and size to what I like and follow steps five and six.  For this sign, I used “Kunstler Scrip” for “Land” and “Brave” (size 180 for the “L” and the “B” and 160 for the other letters).  I like the first letters to be larger.  For “Free” I used “Baskerville Old Face” (110).  The remainder of the verse I used “Blackadder ITC” (72).  I like this font and think the entire verse would look good in it.  I like to do the words after I do Step 8. 





Step 8

Paint!  I use craft paint but for a lot of my projects I use paint pens.  I like Sharpie brand the best, especially for wood projects.  The paint flows better and the tip seems to be a little more durable.  For this sign, I used craft paint for the stripes and for the blue.  For the stars, I used a paint pen.  Sharpie makes red, white and blue pens but I didn’t care for the red and blue pen colors for my signs.  Since I struggle with intentional tremors, my daughter usually helps me with the little detail painting.  Occasionally, I will have a drink and that helps with the tremors so I can do the detailed work myself but I do enjoy spending that time with my daughter and she loves to be “crafty” too and is wicked talented.  Once you have it all painted, sand the entire sign again.  This is an optional step, but I like it to look like the sign is weathered and has stood the test of time.  I don’t sand the words, as I want them read easily. 

I bought a different type of paint pens because they were cheaper than Sharpie. I will spend a few extra bucks next time to get Sharpie brand.



Step 9

Lastly, cover the entire sign with a few coats of poly.  I like to use the spray can poly so there are no brush marks and no clean up.  Stuff is awesome. 

Mom's sign. Just a little different than my sister's.

 Happy 4th of July.  I hope you enjoy this project.



Rustic Flower Box (Caddy/Organizer)

I love pallet wood! In fact, most of my wood crafts are done with pallet wood.  Not only is it free (most of the time) but it is already weathered and rustic so requires very little work to get the look I want.

This is one of my easier projects that can be made in a few hours (less dry time for stain or paint) for someone with a little bit of skills and energy.  For me, it usually takes about a week.  I usually do one to two steps every other day depending on my energy level or pain but it is doable by one person who struggles with fine motor skills, large motor skills or both!

I really think this is a cute and functional gift that any woman (maybe a man would like it to hold pens and pencils on their desk) would love.  The photo above shows it with fresh cut flowers from the yard but any flowers would work.  The first one I made, I gave to my sister-in-law, Jackie, and used Baby's Breath.  She left the Baby's Breath in and allowed it to dry so she has flowers all the time (photo at the bottom).  Pretty good idea.  I also intended this as a table top caddy.  The three jars will allow for forks, spoons and knives and can easily be carried to the table.  I think it would work great for entertaining outdoors.  You could even remove the jars and put condiments like mustard and ketchup.  Those little red and yellow squirt bottles that you get at the dollar store would be super cute.



  • Wood (any type is fine)
  • Finishing Nails
  • Wood Glue
  • Chalk Board Paint
  • Stain
  • Nails with a large head
  • Hammer (or nail gun)
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Two Handles
  • Nail Gun (optional)


Step 1

Figure out which jars you are going to use.  I used three mason jars and measured them so that I could make sure that my caddy had enough room for all three plus a little space (in case they want to put napkins next to silverware).  I decided that a 10"  x 4 1/2" box would work.


Since my wood is about 3/4" thick I bumped my length up to 11 1/2", on the longer sides, since I am insetting the side panels.  I also found the bottom piece at this time.  I like to use one that is wide enough that I don't have to cut the board to fit the width only the length.  I found a piece that was about 6" wide so with the two sides (1 1/2" total thickness) I cut my shorter sides to 4 1/2".  If you want to inset the bottom piece (so that it doesn't show on the outside of the box) just cut it to 10"x 4 1/2".  I know my way is more complicated but I wanted a taller box to cover the jars.  I also really struggle putting nails in; my depth perception is way jacked up.  I usually go too high or too low and then the nail is showing and trying to get the nail out is impossible!  This way, I nail from the bottom (see picture below in Step 5) and I can measure where the nails need to go. If I still screw up and have to remove nails, it's the bottom and no one will see it, so it doesn't matter. Right?


Step 2

Cut wood to the dimensions you need, including the bottom and the chalk board.

For the bottom, I had the four sides cut and dry fit together just to make sure the bottom will fit.  If your brain works correctly, you can easily skip this step (as your measurements are likely accurate) but I always double check myself.  I also like to do it this way as pallet wood thickness can be variable (see left side piece in above photo in Step 1 and how it bows out). For the chalk board piece, I used a scrap of wainscoting (the back side) because it is thinner.  I cut mine to 4" x 2 1/2".  It is really up to you how big you want this.  I cut this at least three times until I got the size I wanted.  I just kept holding it up to the box to see if I liked it.  Also, keep in mind what you are going to write on it so that you have enough room.


I like to use a miter saw aka a chop saw. I cut two sides at the same time so they are exactly the same.




I use an orbital sander and start with 120 grit then finish with 220 grit sanding paper.

Step 3

Next sand and stain boards and paint chalk board.  I like to do this before I assemble the box.  I can sand easily and get the stain everywhere and if you wait until you have the box assembled the corners can be tricky to adequately cover with stain.  Also, if you are like me, the construction may not be that sturdy and sanding (with an orbital sander) can be a little rough and may break your caddy.


Apply three coats of chalk board paint.


Stain one side and let dry then flip wood and do other side.  Between coats, store brushes and rags in Ziploc bags.

Step 4

At this point, I put the chalk board onto the front of the flower box and the handles on the sides.  It is much easier to do it now on a flat surface than once the box is assembled.

First, make sure your nails are long enough to go through both pieces of the board (in the case of the chalk board).  For both the chalk board and your handles, you'll want to make sure they are not too long that they go all the way through the wood and stick out in the interior of the box.

Measure to find center of your flower box


Make sure your nail is long enough to go into both pieces and not too long that it will go out the back side.

Drill a hole in each corner of your chalk board that your large nail will slide through.  Then drill smaller corresponding holes into the front board of your flower box.  I choose drill bits based on the nail size.  I use a larger bit for the chalk board so the nail just slides through then a size smaller so that there is some "tooth" into the actual flower box but the pre-drilled hole usually prevents the wood from splitting.  Before putting the nails in, I like to sand the tops so they are shiny.  You could also spray paint them before if you would like a different color especially if your handles are a different color.  My handles had silver on them so the raw nails coordinate nicely.

You'll also want to measure and mark each side for the placement of the handles.  The first time I made this flower box, I thought I could "eyeball" it and that was a mistake.  Even 1/2" off is pretty noticeable because the handles stick out.

The handles were a big pain in the...  I used some ones I had removed from an antique dresser (normally, I would try and leave an antique piece as original as possible but these handles are difficult for me to use and since I would be using the dresser daily, I opted to change them out).   They look great on the flower caddy but I really struggled attaching them.

Measure the center of sides for handle placement


My handles have two screws so I had to measure the distance between the two and center them.  The first time I tried to put the handles on I just screwed them in and my wood cracked in half!  I had to cut, sand and stain another piece.  Strongly recommend pre-drilling.  Pallet wood can be so temperamental.  Place a drill bit in the hole of your handle until you find one that fits then go a size smaller so that you will have some "tooth"  when you screw them into your sides of the flower box.   







Find the diameter of drill bit you will need to pre-drill.  This fit so I went one size smaller.






Broken! Ugh! I use chalk to mark on my center. It comes off easy and I don't have to worry about a pencil mark leaving a dent in my finished wood.


If you are using a store-bought handle/knob this will be much easier.













Step 5

Time to assemble! I use a little brad nailer to do most of my crafts but this one is really simple to hammer in the nails, plus the nails for my brad nailer weren't long enough.

I start by "pre-nailing" each piece.    I put wood glue on one edge and then nail.  To make it easier, I stack wood under one side while nailing the other side on (for the first board).


Checking my nail length again








Apply a small amount of glue.  Since you have already sanded and stained you don't want to deal with hardened glue.  If you get a little glue that squishes out, just wipe off with a damp rag.



Ta da!  One flower box caddy!



Lastly, spray paint your jars whatever color you would like.  I only spray the outside of the jar since water will be added to hold flowers and there really is no reason to paint the inside.  Once the paint is dry, I sanded mine a bit (with 220) to make them look rustic. 

This was the second one I made.  My first flower box I made was for my sister-in-law for her birthday.  For her caddy, I attached the sides to the edge of the front and back pieces.  I was trying to avoid the nails showing on the front but I didn't care for the edges and "seams" showing.   On my second one (above) I inset the sides and I think the nails add a little rustic character to the caddy.


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