Wednesday, 11 June 2014

How to make a letter rack out of a pallet

The sheer volume of mail we receive every day can make keeping on top of paperwork quite a challenge. Rather than shoving bills behind the toaster or bank statements in a drawer why not make a letter rack. It’s so easy and best of all is a perfect upcycling project.

You will need

A wooden pallet (When handling pallets, always remember that they are usually made of unplaned wood and stored outside, so be careful of splinters and rusty nails)
Claw hammer
Try square or ruler
Nails (or reuse the pallet nails)
Coloured Paint and paintbrush for letter rack
Black paint and paintbrush (small) for lettering
Cheap, thin A4 paper (1 sheet)
Permanent marker
Sellotape/masking tape

Step by step guide

For the letter rack we only want to use one section of the pallet, so the first job is to mark off the edges that you don’t want.
 I’m using a try square here, but you can use a ruler if you prefer. 

Once that’s all done, take your saw and remove those unwanted sides.  What that will leave you with is a nice tidy section of the pallet, which is our basic letter rack shape.


Next we remove all of the slats on one side of the pallet, apart from the bottom one, but don’t throw them away as we will be reusing them very soon.  I’ve used a claw hammer to remove them here, but do it gently and ease them off, as they do have a tendency to split.  Also, be careful of the rusty nails. 

Take one of the slats you’ve just removed and nail it flush with the single one on the pallet (this will make the front of  letter rack)  I’ve reused the original pallet nails to attach the slats on, but feel free to use new nails if the old ones are bent or snapped. 

Next, we want to remove the top section off the back of the letter rack, so turn it over and mark out just above the second from top slat.

Take your saw and remove this section. 

The final construction job for the letter rack is the bottom, as you don’t want the letters to fall out. Either take one of the slats you removed from the front of the rack or the one you just took off the back, and nail it to the bottom, and ta dar, the letter rack is constructed. 

Give the letter rack a good rub down with sand paper to get those edges smooth and splinter free.  Now the construction is done, we can get on with the paint.  As we are going for a rustic look with the letter rack, the painting does not need to be thorough. It just needs one coat, roughly applied, giving the impression of an old, well used item. 

Once this has dried, it is time for our lettering.  Here we are using a fool proof way to apply our outline for the lettering.  If you are more confident, you can hand draw it on, or if you don’t have a printer, you can always use tracing paper.  Using really cheap, thin white paper, we’ve printed out the lettering for the front of the rack, and cut around it, so we can see how it looks when in position. 

When you are happy with the position, tape it down, so it doesn’t slip, and draw over the lettering with your permanent marker.  I recommend going over it twice, just to make sure the ink has gone through. 

You can always peel back one side, and take a sneaky peek.

 This will leave you with a nice outline, that you can go over with your black paint.
 For letter painting I always find that standard brushes don’t really give you a clean edge, so I tend to trim down the bristles with a pair of scissors.  This gives me more a bristle nub, than a brush, and allows me a more accurate tool for lettering.

Allow to dry and your letter rack is complete and ready to be filled with all your messy paperwork!


Please undertake craft projects responsibly and at your own risk.This project reflects my own experience and is not intended to replace expert opinion. If in doubt always consult a professional.
 I bear no responsibility for any craft related injuries you might receive in the pursuit of handmade loveliness. As with any craft or DIY project the reader undertakes it at their own risk.

If you enjoyed this I have plenty of other craft projects over on my crafts page
I also have a book called Handmade Wedding Crafts which features this and lots of other fabulous vintage inspired wedding craft projects for your delectation.

All Photos by Nicky Rockets
This project was first published in Reloved Magazine

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