I’m making this pallet sign for my sister’s wedding. It’s beautiful, simple, and doesn’t leave a hole in your wallet! I mean, free wood may require a little extra manual labor, but it’s totally worth it. And isn’t the hard work what makes the final product feel so good anyways?

Let's get started!

diy wedding sign

Step 1: Purchase vinyl lettering 

First, buy or order your vinyl letters. Before you decide on the phrase and the font, you need to decide where you’re purchasing them. Just Google "vinyl lettering," and you'll come up with a range of options to browse and buy custom letters or phrases in a font you like. The letters for our sign came to about $30 with shipping. Keep in mind that the total cost of the project then came out to about $35. The beauty of free wood!

Step 2: Disassemble pallet

Disassemble the pallet: This step requires patience and perseverance! Using a crowbar, carefully pry the top boards of the pallet away from the frame (these boards are generally in better condition than the ones on the bottom of the pallet). To avoid breaking the board, move back and forth between the three places where it’s nailed down, prying up a little at a time.

This is a good time to conjure up any memories of high school physics, and remember that a crowbar is a simple machine and (like more complex machines) is designed to lighten the load of work for us. This isn’t a contest to see who’s stronger, you or the pallet; that will only end in a very sore back.

Trust me, I know from experience! I’ve found that most of the time I spend with the crowbar is used in trying to get a good hold between the pallet boards—once there’s leverage, it’s actually pretty easy. My solution to this problem is to utilize a wide chisel and a hammer. With a couple strokes of the hammer, you can wedge the chisel in between the boards and the frame to create space for the crowbar to do its magic. You can also use this technique with a small pry bar, or even with the crowbar itself (though the length makes it a little awkward).

Of course, if your sign is small enough, you can skip all of this manual labor and use the circular saw to cut the boards out in five minutes. For our sign, I pried off three boards and cut out two smaller segments for the cross beams in the back.

Step 3: Lay out lettering

Once you have enough wood for your sign you can lay out the letters. The gaps between my boards were pretty significant and the font fairly delicate, so I was hesitant to cross over from board to board with the vinyl. Because of this, I ended up cutting out the letters from their preexisting format to fit each line on the boards individually. When you have your letters lined up, you can cut the boards to your desired length just eyeball it. Be mindful of split ends and nail remnants when you’re sawing, as these can fly up when they’re cut from the rest of the board. It seems that every pallet has a number of nails that have been cut or broken off at the surface of the board but are still embedded. Whatever you do, don’t run into these with your chop saw!

pallet wedding sign

Step 4: Cut back supports

Next, cut the back supports. Measure across your sign so that your tape measure is perpendicular to the length of the boards. Cut two pieces a hair shorter than your measurement and line up on the back side of the boards. Pre-drill the cross beams, two to three holes over each top board. Again, be looking out for those nail stubs. This may mean that you can’t line up the boards evenly. Personally, this was a painful realization. Just remember that they’ll be on the back, and no one will ever know!

Before you put in the screws, double check that everything is lined up exactly how you want it to be. Apply plenty of pressure so that the screws pull the boards together instead of pushing them apart.

drilling wedding sign

Step 5: Attach hangers

If you have plans to hang this sign the next step is to attach the brass ring hangers. Position them hanging over the inside edge of the back crossbeams so that they’re facing each other. With the same bit you used before, pre-drill through the hole, and then secure with a screw. Tie sturdy string or picture hanging wire between the two hangers. We used some nylon twine we had on hand because of its sturdiness, but wire would probably be best!

screw for wedding sign

diy wedding sign rope

Step 6: Stain ends

This step is optional: We ended up with one end of the sign being the original board ends from the pallet, and the other end freshly cut by us for the sign. Thus we had one end that was darkened from time and the other end that was lighter than the rest of the wood. So we brought in some stain. Use a dark colored stain, and apply it to the very end of the board. If it gets on the top it will seep across, so be careful. If it does bleed, you can clean it up with some sanding. If you don’t like the idea of sanding, you might be able to get a similar look with charcoal or good old-fashioned dirt. You can also just leave the edge as is.

staining wedding sign

Step 7: Sand sign

Next, flip your sign over and begin sanding. We used a fine/medium sanding sponge. I love these sponges for flat surfaces because they’re so easy to use. The good grip means that I have to put forth less effort and generally enjoy the process more. Be careful how much you sand. The goal is to smooth out any roughness and remove any surface dirt so that the letters can easily stick to the boards, but we don’t want to sand it enough to remove the natural weathered tones of the wood. This is why we employed a finer sanding sponge.

sanding wedding sign

Step 8: Clean sign

After you’ve sanded, grab your brush or broom and vigorously brush off the wood. This will help clean it up. Run over it with your hands until you feel that all the dust and dirt have been removed.

pallet sign for wedding

Step 9: Apply lettering

Now comes time for the vinyl letters. Following the directions accompanying your letters, lay them out as desired and tape in place along the top edge. Bend back against the tape and remove the backing from the letters. Carefully lay the letters down and smooth them with the applicator tool or with a credit card. The wood is a little tricky because, unlike a wall, it isn’t flat and full of little divots and ridges.

Run the applicator tool perpendicular to the grain of the wood to ensure that the letters attach to all of these variations in the wood. Remove the tape and slowly, gently, remove the top layer from the letters. Use the applicator tool to press down the letters as you go. I found that because of the changing surface of the wood it was beneficial to use my fingernail along an especially difficult tail of a letter in place of the applicator tool.

Position the rest of your letters, and attach them to the boards. Your sign is now done and ready to be hung up!

hanging wedding sign

wood pallet sign

diy wood pallet sign

Now that you have your customized wedding sign, how about building this wooden wedding arch or these mix-and-match cake stands?