Japanese Wood Burning on Pallet wood

My goodness it’s been a while since I’ve written anything.  I have been doing more than writing.

In my previous posts I have mentioned my LOVE for burning and wanted to show my meager attempt at using an ancient Japanese Technique for burning and preserving wood called Shou Sugi Ban.  This literally translates to burnt Cedar board.

The technique has been around for hundreds of years and was developed as a means of preserving wood and making it fire and bug resistant for up to 80 years or more.  My understanding is that the main use was for siding on houses, however it has developed into an artistic wood art as well.  Properly done it is a bit time consuming, however the results are timeless and produce a truly unique wood grain.

Besides the uniqueness you can create with burning, the technique makes the project fire and pest resistant! Who wouldn’t like that?  Although I am not charring the wood to the degree the true technique requires in this little project, I am certain my pallet boards are free of bugs and molds.

The technique I used is a four step process on previously cleaned and sanded boards

Step 1:  Burning

Propane or other hand held torch

Step 2: Brushing

A stiff bristle brush

Step 3: Washing

Vinager in water with a dash of dish soap

Step 4 Staining or Oiling

Below is my video link showing the 4 step method.

Wood burn Shou Sugi Ban (1)


Introducing Grace and Joy my Angel Boards

While I was frantically deciding what to create for an upcoming local vendor event I came across my bag of tins I had picked up at a garage sale.  There was a tin with these beautiful little angels on them.  I think it was either a Christmas chocolate or cookie tin.  I pulled it out of the bag not knowing exactly what I was going to do with it but inspiration was forming in my head.  As in my previous post I mentioned I was struggling with creating art or crafting.  I’ve decided that they are the same.  Oh so sorry I forgot to put my blinker on and turned slightly left!

Lets get back to the Angel Boards.  As I said I have been frantically trying to get ready for the event.  This event is the first one of this kind I’ve decided to try rather than only the local Farmer’s market.  After all it is fun to create but it is nice to know that others appreciate your work and help support you.  I thought this might be a way of getting a bit more exposure.

Prior to finding my tin bag in preparation for this event I had spent a whole Sunday sanding pallet boards.  Yes I do this manually.  Most of the time I don’t mind though it is sort of a Zen thing.  Once I’ve done the initial sanding with the belt sander I finish with the detail sander and it gives me a connection with the wood and what it might create for me.  Is that weird?  My husband bless his heart had done the brute work of taking the pallets apart and I have a nice bin full that I hope will keep me going most of the winter.  One of the boards I had sanded was quite thick and I spent a little extra time sanding it.  I had put it aside from the others and had already decided it would be a stand alone piece.

Once I had my angel tin and knowing I had that board waiting for me to give it something unique it didn’t take but two seconds to inspire me.  I cut out the Angels from the tin.  I started with tin snipes to get the initial part of the tin cut and flattened out.  I can’t seem to get the hang of tin snipes.  Maybe I just need more practice with them.  To cut the angels out of my flattened piece I tried a pair of multi-purpose snipes I got fairly cheap from the hardware store.  I was very happy with how they cut and didn’t leave a really sharp edge on the tin.

I had given my board a spay of a nice blue Krylon paint.  You can see I didn’t completely cover the board out to the edges giving it a nice effect.  I placed the Angel on the board approximately where I wanted to put her.  I didn’t glue her down at this point, just placed her to get the area where I needed to paint.  I mixed some poster paint to make her halo and then proceeded to paint her dress.  I wanted some depth so I mixed in some Liquitex ultra matte gel to thicken the paint.  I layered the paint and used a painters trowel to push the paint around until I was satisfied.  Once that was done I gently curved my angel tin, to give her some depth and used Gorilla glue to glue the edges down.  To make sure she didn’t move I placed some clamps on the edge of the tin and let the paint and glue set overnight.

The next day I added the ribbons.  I used Mod Podge to glue them down.  I wasn’t sure how that was going to turn out but it was the only thing I could think of that would hold and not discolor the ribbon.  Once I was satisfied I tied a ribbon around the tin and dress to finish her off.  I loved how she turned out so much I was excited to make her twin.  The tin had two angels so of course I had to make another one.

For those of you in the area the event is the Bonnyville House and Home and the C2 center hosted by Cari Cain.

Hope you enjoy and happy DIY!


Burn On, (I told you I had a problem)

If you remember or read my previous post here’s a wonderful little project using the same technique of burning! Read More


Wood Burning on Pallet Wood

I think I have a problem, I LOVE BURNING !  Read More


Now and Then

Ever wonder what to do with the cut ends off your pallet projects?

Read More

Peter Peter Pumpkins

Well judging by the air in our neck of the woods fall is here.  Had to turn up the heat, which brought me to thoughts of fall and all the things with it.  I had a wonderful little vacation visiting my parents on beautiful Vancouver Island.  I do miss living there but I don’t miss the busyness that has become most of the Island.

Now that I’m a bit more refreshed I started thinking about fall and fall projects for our up coming Fall Fair and Vendor’s market day.  Of late I have seen a few requests for pumpkin art on our local Homemade and Handmade face book page.  So you guessed it I decided I would make some cute pallet pumpkins for our porch and yours.

I picked out some boards and set to work with the usual cleaning and sanding.  Once I finished I then measured the boards and cut to length.  As these were square pumpkins I placed two sides on edge and put a thin stream of wood glue on both edges.  I placed the third side on my edges and used a brad nailer to hold in place, flipped it over and put my final side on again with glue and the brad nailer.  I then measure my top and cut to size.  Before I put the top on I drilled out a hole about the size of a small tree branch.  Once that was done I again glued and nailed the piece on.  I made three of various heights.  I then spray painted them lightly with Rust-Oleum Painters Touch.  I like this spray paint as it has a primer built in and the colors are pretty true to the color of the lid.  Of course that’s on bare wood.  Once dry I cut some lengths for the stem off of a Pine we trimmed this summer.  Glued them in the hole waited for it to dry and added ribbon bows.  Done!

2016-08-27 16.34.50 The tallest one is 23-1/2in and the shortest one is 9-3/4in.  There are no bottoms on them as I thought they may carry over for Christmas to hide a gift or on your porch to hide a key.

Pretty easy and pretty cute.  The six pumpkins not including drying time was about 4 hours.  Definitely do-able for a weekend quick project.



Monogram Sign

Wow there’s always something to learn.  Every time I decide to do something I seem to want to take it just that much further and try new things.

I decided I would make a family monogram sign for a friend and co-worker who always seems to be there for anyone who needs a helping hand.  When I’m looking for free material or something specific he goes out of his way to get it for me.  The name was the easy part but I wanted something just a little bit more detailed.  He and his family originally came from Nova Scotia so I thought I would try to incorporate a sea theme.  What exactly I hadn’t decided yet.

I picked out my pallet boards, cleaned, sanded and scrubbed again.  I cut the lengths just a little over half way and laid them vertically.  Once I was satisfied with the lay out I flipped the boards over so I could measure my brace pieces and glue and screw them into place.  Some people might think that’s a lot of prep for a sign.  I have seen many done with a Brad nailer or a staple gun, which is perfectly fine, but if you want the sign to stand up over time then in my opinion the extra work is well worth it.

Turned out that I liked the back part of the pallet more than the front.  It seemed to have more character.  The nail heads that I had left in the boards would be on the opposite side though.  I decided I would deal with that later.  I flipped them over again and measured again where my brace pieces would go.

I milled a piece of scrap wood from my bin in half with the band saw.  Then clamped all the boards together top side and bottom side of the of the boards.  Time to measure where the braces should go and used the brace to draw the line across the boards.  I then put a thin line of Elmer’s wood glue down the middle and carefully placed the braces along the lines and clamped them on each end to the boards.  I drilled my pilot holes and secured the braces to each board with wood screws.  Taa-Daa!   Or so I thought.

I had brought the “finished boards” into the shop and leaned it upright while I brought my work bench in.  When I picked it up to put back on the bench it all fell apart.  “Seriously! that didn’t just happen!” I said in disbelief.  I stood there for a moment or two and stared at all the boards scattered on the floor.  I picked it all up laid it out again took all my screws out and put in longer screws.  I was so intent on clamping, bracing and measuring the boards the one thing I didn’t measure and only assumed was the length of my screws.  Lesson learned, “I hope”.  At that point I called it a night.

I like the look of having the initial large in the background with the family name over it.  I set to work by making a large “A” in MS Power Point and then saving it to a PDF to print out poster size.  I’ve done this several times already but this time I found that if I went over 900 on the font size when I opened my saved PDF file there was nothing there?  I was puzzled and tried several times to figure out what I was doing wrong.  I researched it on line but couldn’t seem to find the answer.  Frustrated I decided to go with what it would save and print to.

Before I started to work on my staining I took a nail set and removed the nails and put them back in with the nail heads on the right side of the sign.  I then cut out my letter and used Mod Podge to stick it to the board surface.  I picked out some stain from my many cans of stain and mixed it 1 to 1 ration.  1 part stain 1 part water.   I applied the stain to the boards not quite going to the edges,  I then wet my brush with water and wiped the stain to the edges giving it a faded look.  I let that sit for about 10 minutes, ( it was a very hot day), then I carefully peeled of my letter.  Once my stain was dry I took a damp cloth and rubbed any remaining paper off which wasn’t much.  So now I have a natural wood “A” in the center.  I set to work printing of the last name and traced it onto the sign.  For paint I used Patio Paint in a cream color.   Once that was done I used a parody for a cute saying which I painted in a nice bright blue,  also Patio Paint.  I then sealed it with two coats of Benjamin Moore Arbour Coat on the top side of the sign and I sprayed a matte clear coat on the back.

My initial monogram sign was done but as I said I wanted to add that little bit extra.  I had some bottle caps given to me and I first thought of using them to make an anchor or a lobster.  You’ve probably seen that how to on Pinterest.  I laid it out on the table but didn’t like the look of it.  Earlier that day I went garage sale shopping and had picked up some vintage tins and a few other ones.  I also had the cigar tins saved from hubby’s cigars.  I thought I could probably use the tins to make some sort of sea animal, light house or something nautical.  There were two tins that caught my eye and as soon as I saw them I knew exactly what I was going to put on the sign.  This is sort of long and drawn out but I just wanted to share my thought processes on how I came up with this one.

Cutting the tin is quite hard on the hands and wrist, (at least I found it to be).  My hubby has some aviation snips which is what I used to cut the tin with.  Aviation snips are color coded.  The red handled ones make a left handed curve and the green handled ones make a right handed curve.  I couldn’t get the hang of the green ones and only used the red ones.  I just kept turning the tin so I was always cutting towards the left side.  Always wear gloves.

Once I cut down the seams and the bottom of the tins I flattened out the pieces and traced my design onto the back with a sharpie.  Then set to work cutting the pieces.  I glued the pieces on with Gorilla glue and finished with some 1/2 inch finishing nails.  I used a very small ball-peen hammer to tap the edges of the tin down.  The edges would still be sharp but since it was an outdoor sign I wasn’t too worried about anyone wanting to touch it once it was hung.  For curl on the tail I used a few links of a brass chain  left over from the easel hubby made me.  The eyes are buttons I had in my sewing kit.

For the finishing touch I added a sailor’s knot with natural jute rope.  I didn’t have a clue how to tie one so here’s the Pinterest site I found it on.

I was pretty happy with the finished sign.  It measures approximately 23H x 36w.  A couple of things I might do differently as I said I learned a lot on this project.  So much fun!  Hope you enjoyed and if I forgot something leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Happy crafting!

Back of finished sign

Back of finished sign



Burt Wood Welcome Sign

I had a piece of pallet wood that I set aside as stand alone because the grain in the wood was so prevalent I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it.  I came across a technique on burning the grain on wood to enhance it.  It was a fairly good article but sorry I couldn’t seem to find it again.  If I do I will certainly include the link.

I used a little mini-torch and went over the grain until I got the desired effect.  If you decide to use such a technique be careful to protect yourself, with gloves, goggles and mask.  Good ventilation is a good idea too.  The trick is to go with the grain on the wood or you will raise it which is OK on pallet art but if you are building a table top or something finer you will have an uneven surface.

I finished enhancing the grain and it sat in my shop for a couple more weeks as I wasn’t sure what I was going to paint on it without covering up the darkened grain. I saw so many potential pieces of art in my head but wasn’t ready to start.

I was getting ready for the market and finished a dragonfly pallet art when I looked at the piece and decided it would make a very nice welcome sign.  Once I finished the artwork.  I put two really good coats of clear satin polyurethane over it to protect it.Sunflower Welcome-1

Burnt Wood grain

Loving Pallet Art

I took last week off from my day job so I could get some pallet art ready for our local indoor Farmer’s Market.  It’s a small event about 30 tables but the tables are usually booked well in advance.  I’m just starting to become more or less a regular.  I’m always happy when people come by and I hear wow or chat a bit with me about how I made something.  A lot of people take my card and there are so many interesting people to meet.

I presented my clocks which are pictured in my DIY Clock category.  I always seem to mix up DIY and to DYI, even if I say it out loud.  Silly quirk of mine.  Articles to come on my clocks.  I am soon to start on a special project that I have rattling around in my head.  A friend has moved to another Province and has commissioned me to make something special for them.  I will catalogue that when I start.  I’m excited to get it out of my head and do hands on work for the clock project.

Back to the pallet art.  I finished three for the market and was really happy with them.  My sunflower one was a big hit and sold.  Sunflower Sunnyside up I find that I’m not used to painting on wood so it has been a bit of a challenge but it’s all about developing a technique so that’s exciting to me.  The other thing I love doing is coming up with a catchy saying, that’s not to say that I haven’t used a common one or perhaps did a play of words from something I have read.  I’ve always loved simple poetry and put my emotions into my art and sayings.

The Black Wish one I love.  The pallet wood I’m sure is hard wood and the same stain was used on it as the Sunflower one.  The wood also looked like it may have come from a diseased tree as it had groves in it like maybe ants or some sort of beetle.  I guess maybe similar to the Pine Beetle infestation in British Columbia that was brought over from another country on a freighter.  The wood from those trees has produced some very unusual patterns that is highly prized.  Sometimes the grain or the character of the wood tells me what I should paint on it.  On the smaller dandelion I followed the groves to create the curves of the head. Black Hardwood Wish finishedConveniently there was a knot hole almost center at the top so I added a burlap wire ribbon to complete it.

This one was a doodle I produced on a paper while at a previous farmer’s market.  I decided to try a paint and stain to complete this piece.  The wood on this one wasn’t really talking to me.  I did start with the same stain I used on the other two but it looked boring to me.Dandi Lovin Garden So I had some nice blue latex paint which I washed over the boards.  When that was dry I randomly sanded, wiped off and put some outdoor barn door red stain over.

One of my neighbors has an “experimental dandelion” sign on their garden gate.  I always liked her little sign.  She’s elderly and her daughter, who lives with her, recently bought the house from her mom.  I gave this one to them, they love it.

I used Patio paint on all of these including the lettering.  Once all was dry I sprayed two to three coats of “Rust-Oleum Painters Touch” in matte clear finish.

I scored big at this event.  A friend I used to work with, (I have a regular day job), has been off and on in touch with me had come across some shutters that she was going to put up on their home and some have a little water damage.  When she was telling me the story I piped up and said I’d be happy to take any she didn’t feel she could use.  We’ve been trying to connect for about a month and there she was coming across the floor with one of the shutters.  Yeah!

Do the Glue

I thought I would share the steps I use to getting my pallet ready for artwork.

  • Have hubby take pallet apart
  • Inspect boards for cracks and nails that might need to come out.  If the cracks are on the ends of the board you can saw off and discard that piece or if you want to keep it for that rustic look but aren’t sure it will stand up you can glue and clamp it.  Just some ordinary wood glue is best.
  • Sand the board with 60 or 80 grit both sides and areas where you see fine splinters. I give the edges a quick sand too and sometimes round the corners a bit.
  • If I’m using a stain I gather as many boards as will fit on my saw horses and stain them.  Sometimes I stain both sides because the grain of the wood is unique and I’m not sure which side I will use.
  • Once stain is dry I pick out my boards and place them where I think they look best.  I used the same boards as in my previous post under Stain and Paint Methods.  If they are not the same length I will trim the boards or leave as is.
  • Now I turn my boards over and get my cross pieces ready to screw onto the boards.  This is where I’ve made a few mistakes because I was trying to cut corners.  I usually need to mill my cross pieces from part of the pallet unless I have some pieces left over that will do the trick.  You don’t have to be exact here it’s the back and is just to keep your boards together.  However, it is one of the most important steps.  You want your boards secure, hence my title “do the glue”.
  • Get your tools and supplies ready.  You will need glue, a rag,(the rag is for wiping off your glue bottle and drill bit), wood screws, a drill bit for pilot holes and a screw driver or a drill attachment for drilling your wood screws on.
  • Place the cross pieces about a third of the way in from the end of the boards.  I usually eyeball it, (my hubby rolls his eyes when I tell him I didn’t measure).  Now get your Elmer’s wood glue, or what ever brand you like, and put a thin squiggly line down one of your cross pieces.  Turn it over and press onto the back of your boards.  Drill a pilot hole, they should be a smaller diameter than the wood screws you’ll use.   I found the best way is to drill a pilot hole on the top and screw in my screw, the next pilot hole will be at the bottom and then work into the middle.   Once done do your next cross piece the same way.  If you feel your boards are not quit as secure as you would like add more cross pieces.
  • Below on the left I didn’t drill my pilot holes.  You can see that I split my wood.  Also I used my little drill to screw in and sometimes a screw driver is best because it doesn’t apply as much torque. Pallet
  • Pallet step 2 I used 10 X 1 wood screws for this project. I prepared two projects, here is my pallet ready for my artwork.
  • Pallet front