A few years back we were in the thick of renovating our home, I had just learned to use power tools, and we had a couple pallets of wood flooring to install. Pallets, as we all know, have been popular among DIYers for some time now. Not liking to waste anything, this became not only my first pallet project, but one of my first scrap wood projects ever.
This was long before I started a blog, however, so after a number of requests I built another flag and here’s a tutorial for how you can make one yourself. They really are not hard, but you will need a few tools.
Ready? Let’s do this.
Tools and Materials Needed:
miter saw or circular saw
red, white, and blue paint (I used acrylics)
star template (I used this one)
sander (power or hand)
screws (probably 3/4″ or so)
wood strips for backer
1. Disassemble the pallet
Word to the wise, use a reciprocating saw if you have one. Cut right through the nails and save yourself a ton of time and profanity. Always wear safety gear, of course.
2. Rip the boards in half
Not with your bare hands. Use a table saw. For those who may not know – and there’s no shame here – a rip cut is one that goes with the grain. A cross cut goes against the grain. Don’t worry about getting these exactly in the middle. Just set your saw for what will roughly be the middle of each board, and run them all through. Be sure you have the nails removed so you don’t hit one with the blade. You’ll need 13 strips. Mine are about an inch and a half wide.
3. Layout the pallet pieces and trace a square using your star template
Lay your 13 pallet slices out in whatever order looks good to you and mark out where the blue square will be.
4. Paint the stripes
Red first, then white, ending in red. We used a foam brush and did a very quick coat. Your goal is not to cover all the wood. Work quickly and, for lack of a better description, be sloppy. Don’t overthink it, just throw some pain on there. Like so.
5. Paint the blue box
Total painting time was probably 5 minutes, with both my husband and I working. If you find it’s taking a long time you are probably putting too much on.
6. Attach the boards together using wood strips and short screws
Turn each of the pieces over so that they are in the correct order upside down and cut three wood strips just shorter than the overall height of the flag. Predrill holes to avoid splitting the wood. You’ll need a screw in each board. I like to squeeze the pieces together and do the top and bottom screws on each backer board first to keep it all nice and tight. It will have gaps and some pieces will be higher than others, but that’s part of the texture I like, personally.
7. Sand lightly
This just gives the paint a little more of a distressed look. You can hand sand. I prefer not to if I can possibly avoid it.
8. Tape the template on
I didn’t have a template for the first flag I made. I printed a single star and traced it, then hand painted. It took forever. No joke.
9. Paint the stars
A stencil brush is the best option here. You could probably use a foam brush successfully, but I would imagine a little more paint may smudge under the template. Get just a little paint on the bristles and blot it on each star. It’s an up and down rather than a brushing motion. All 50 stars only took a couple minutes this way, and I’m happy with how they turned out. They don’t have to be perfect, of course.
Forgive the lack of action shots here. I was focusing on blotting and forgot to snap a photo!
That’s it! You can sand a little on the stars if you like. I didn’t because one quick coat of paint looked just fine to me.
It took my husband and I working together somewhere under an hour to assemble this entire flag, though we started with pre-ripped pallet boards. But seriously, the first time I did one of these it took me a couple of days. Mostly because of the hand painted stars thing, and because I was overthinking the whole thing. Hopefully this tutorial helps it not take you quite so long! If you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer them. Also, if you don’t have a miter saw or a table saw you can certainly use a circular saw to do all of the cutting.
Good luck, and happy building!