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Reclaimed Wood Wall Sign

Joe Garritano

Project by

Joe Garritano
Wayzata, USA

General Information

All of this wood from this sign came from various dumpsters. The start of teh project are these aquamarine shingles I found in a dumpster outside of a cabin remodel. I used them to create this sign appropriate for waterfront homes or beach themed homes.

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Cut Shingles Down

I wanted to use the aged, painted portion of these reclaimed shingles and I wanted the background to have more visual interest that three or four shingles side-by-side. So I decided to make mini shingles to allow me to mix and match colors and patterns. To ensure all of the shingles were cut to the same size, I clamped a board to my chop saw and cut them all approximately 1.5" wide. I kept cutting pieces of each shingle until I ran out of painted surface. I kept some of the “half painted” pieces to add visual interest.


Layout the Shingle Pieces

I made the first row of shingles flush with the top but let each row extend past the left and right edges of the plywood backing. Each row is staggered so the vertical seems do not line up. I tried to vary the width of shingles as much as possible to give the background a random appearance.

The shingles were glued down with Tight Bond wood glue and periodically fastened with 1" brads to hold the pattern while the glue dried.


Trim up the Edges

To square up the sign and make the edges flush for applying a frame, I stopped laying out shingles when I could no longer apply a complete final row. I trimmed the left, right and bottom edges on the mitre saw. This way each row of shingles is still the exact same width.


Apply a Frame

This frame is made from the strips of wood placed between sheet lumber at a lumber yard. A quick rummage through any lumber yard dumpster will yield thousands of these furry pine strips. These were spray painted white to about 80% coverage and then navy blue to about 80% coverage. After it dries a scratched up the blue to reveal more white using a hand held piece of 60 grit sand paper lightly brushed over the surface. The boards are very warped and have uneven thicknesses with prevents good mitred corners. So I used lap corners for the frame. Start with to side pieces cut to the exact height of the sign background. Then apply the top pieces to over lap the ends of the sides.

The frame is glued and tacked in place with 1" brads. Then, the cut ends are finished by blotting with a foam brush dipped in spray paint.


NOW add Artwork

Using recycled wood can yield unpredictable results. Completing a good frame before cutting your artwork is good practice. Now the frame is complete you can experiment with different sizes of paper cutouts to determine what is the most appropriate size to carve your work.

This whale was carved from 1/2" scrap poplar leftover from my last project. MDF works even better as it is easier to carve and finish. But we use what we have!

I use a waste board that I am comfortable cutting into because I want to make sure the bit goes cleanly through, all the way around the piece. I also use “3d” or “ramped” tabs because the minimize the tooling marks caused by the bit raising and lowering on each pass around the piece.

I put my tabs on the broadest, flatest areads of my work piece to facilitate their removal on the belts sander – which takes about 2 seconds, as opposed to hand-filing.

That’s all there is to it. Now go rip some shingles off your neighbor’s house or check out the dumpsters in your neighborhood. It’s best not to look for something specific but to use whatever it is you find.