DIY Palette Pumpkins

Here at the paint store there’s never a shortage of old shipping palettes (which we’re always happy to donate!).  This inexpensive wood is perfect for DIY projects with a rustic flair.  In the spirit of the season I decided to make a couple of super simple Fall pumpkins to decorate the store.

One of the most labour intensive parts of this project ( I admit I had help here) is breaking down the palettes.  If you use a hammer and pry bar be prepared to sweat a lot.  If you have access to a reciprocating saw this step will be much faster and easier.  Make sure you wear gloves to protect from splinters and remove all nails.


To avoid a lot of cutting, I chose a pretty simple stepped design.  The middle board is 48 inches with the top and bottom boards getting shorter by 4 inches with each step.

A chop saw made this step super easy.   Just remember that palette wood can have splits and knots so eye projection is always a good idea.

This wood was a little too rough for me so I sanded the boards first with 60 grit, then 80 and finally with 120 grit sandpaper.  This by no means made them perfect but it smoothed them out enough to accept an even coat of stain and paint (more on that later.) Again, make sure to protect your hands with gloves.

After all the boards were sanded I gave them an even coat of gel stain.  I find it easier to work with than regular liquid stain for a couple of reasons.  Because palette wood is very porous a liquid stain can turn out splotchy as it penetrates unevenly.  It’s also a little harder to control than gel stain which is thicker.  Plus, it’s great fun to put on some gloves and just smear the stain around with a cotton cloth.

After the stain dried (6-8 hours depending on the humidity but I left it overnight just to be on the safe side) I put on a thinned coat of acrylic paint in bright orange.  The wash gave my pumpkins just enough colour without loosing that rustic look.

After all the paint dried, I attached the boards together with a strong wood glue, attached clamps to help them bond tightly while drying and then used some 5 gallon paint sticks as braces just in case.

An off cut from one of the boards made the perfect green stem and a little twine completed the project!











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