Wood Pallet Map Tutorial

Several of you requested the tutorial for the wood pallet map we made for my son’s room that I shared with you the other day.  This was a super simple project and cost literally nothing for us other than the cost of the map.  You can’t beat that now can you?


First of all we picked up some pallets for FREE at our local nursery.  They will allow you to take up to 8 pallets before they charge.  Score!

pallets 1

Then comes the tough part.  These pallets have some serious nails holding them together.  It takes some serious muscle strength to get these planks off.  We ended up cutting off the two ends right up to the nails and then just pulling out the middle nails.

Then I took a heavy duty file and sanded down the edges and the rough spots of each plank.

wood-pallet-map 2

Make sure you have enough pallets to have a bit of overhang on the map so you can see your pallet wood.  It gives it an antiqued look.  You can cut your map down a bit so that it fits better too, which is what we did.

We connected the pallet planks together with a piece of plywood on the back and then glued them into place with Gorilla Wood Glue (my favorite wood glue).

wood-pallet-map 10

We found our map on Amazon for a $1! They had a few different styles and we went for a more Old World look.

Trim around the edges in a non-patterned way to give it a more worn look without crisp clean edges.

wood-pallet-map 11

Then take a candle and burn the map around the edges.  We did this outside and had a pitcher of water on hand….just in case.

wood-pallet-map 12

We burnt the map all around the edges and then even burnt some holes in the middle of the map in some of the less prominent areas on the map.

wood-pallet-map 1

Lay your map onto the wood pallets.  This next part you will need and Exact-o Knife to cut the map into long strips.  Now I debated about cutting the map, but I wanted the individual wood planks to show through and give some detail to the map.  I was worried that if I just Mod Podged the map without cutting it, it would just be a flat map.

wood-pallet-map 3

I am SO glad I decided to cut the map.  It added so much more detail and un-perfectness to the overall look.

wood-pallet-map 4

We recruited the kids to help us hold the map into place while we cut it.  We did not want it to move at all and mess up the cut.


We cut the map one section at a time.  When we had a new strip, we Mod Podged it onto the individual plank.


We purposely left a small space between each plank.


After all the strips were glued onto the pallets, we let it dry completely.  Then we put two coats of water-based polycrylic in a satin finish on the map to keep it nice and protected.

wood-pallet-map 13

I LOVE it! And so does my son!  He wants to pin the places he has been to on this map as well.  What do you think?


I was inspired to make this map when I came across this image (below) on Pinterest.  I searched all over to find the original source of the map so I could link back and give credit to who made this and I could not for the life of me find out where it is from.

My search led me to believe that it may have been sold at Hobby Lobby a while ago. If anyone knows where I can find the original site for this I would love to know so I can give them credit and a link!


Amy Huntley is the owner/author of The Idea Room. A mother of five, who enjoys sharing her love of all things creative in hopes of inspiring other women and families. Connect with her on Google+, or read more of her posts.


  1. 1

    This is SO awesome, Amy! I love DIY projects that you could gift to a boy/man. Really cool ones are hard to find and this is one of the coolest pallet art projects I’ve seen. I especially love the holes you burned in the middle and cutting it into strips definitely lends to the aged look. Too cool!

  2. 4

    I LOVE this project! ! I already ordered the map…can’t wait to get started! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. 6

    Amy-I love this! The whole space looks fantastic! Gotta love free projects. Thanks for the inspiration…as always

  4. 8

    PS-loved this so much, I shared this on My Craft Channel’s FB page! Love ya girlie!

  5. 9

    This is fabulous! And kudos to you for trying hard to find the original source. I love the look of this.. I’ve been thinking about doing maps and globes in the play room.. This would be great! We have lots of new construction around here so there are pallets in the dumpsters all the time! The workers just laugh at me when I ask for some :)

    • 10

      haha! I love that! Way to go finding all sorts of good uses for those old pallets! I laughed when I read this cause I can totally relate to getting strange looks when I salvage something to re-purpose it!

  6. 11

    I love this; I really want a map in my house somewhere! I think rustic looking nails would look awesome as “pins” in the map as to where he has been. Or even nail head trim?

    • 12

      Great idea! We were just thinking of using push pins…but your idea is so much classier and fitting with the overall feel!! I even have some carpet tacks from another project that will be perfect!

  7. 13

    Amy, this is amazing! I LOVE the old, worn look of the map with the pallet wood. Gorgeous! What a fun idea to pin the spots your son has been too :)

  8. 15

    I love how this turned out!!! It’s so cool looking!!

  9. 16

    I love it!! I’m glad you left spaces between the strips of the map so that the pallet wood showed through. Turned out beautiful!!

  10. 18

    It is so great idea! Much far away from the common maps! I love af the idea of burning it a bit!

  11. 19

    I love this Amy! Just Pinned and shared on FB, happy weekend :)

    xo, Tanya

  12. 20

    The original map is not homemade. I bought one from NapaStyle. It’s not wood, but poly-something. But I like it–it’s in the man-cave.

  13. 21

    it looks awesome!!! I love that the pallet was free and you found the map for a buck, wow!!! I came over from TT&J. Would love for you to come over and check out my blog…
    Emily @ http://www.nap-timecreations.com

  14. 22

    I brought home one wood palette and my husband said it took so much time to pull just one nail that it wasn’t worth it. Ha!

  15. 23

    Thank you so much for posting this tutorial!! This is exactly what I want to do in my boys new room. I already ordered the poster & can’t wait to get started. Now to figure out how to incorporate the license plate art I have rolling around in my brain.

  16. 24

    Wow! Looks very nice. Great idea.

  17. 25

    The original was sold at Hobby Lobby. My mother and I both fell in love with it in the Fall but neglected to snatch it up before most stores were sold out. After searching several stores, my mom was finally able to locate two, one for each of us, in a clearance section last December. But I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your version! Great job!!

  18. 26

    This is fantastic- thanks so much for sharing! We’ve been looking for the perfect rustic map focal piece for one of our walls… but weren’t willing to pay the $100+ we’ve been finding! I was so inspired by this tutorial, I’ve already run over to amazon to order my own map, now just to hunt down some pallets!

    Thanks again!

    • 27

      So glad you loved it. Good luck finding some pallets. Hopefully you can find some free ones. I think they are pretty easy to find if you ask around as most big companies have some laying around. I would love to see it if you don’t mind sharing it. I love to see the projects you guys end up making!!

  19. 28

    This is so fun and I love that it is inexpensive too! Great Idea Amy!

  20. 30

    I LOVE maps! This is fabulous. I can’t wait to try it myself. Thanks!

    • 31

      Thanks Robin! I love maps too and have always wanted to incorporate one into my home decor. It made perfect sense to add it to his room decor.

  21. 32

    this turned out amazing, Amy! such a fun texture to add a map on some pallet boards.

  22. 34

    Thanks for this tutorial! We have a vintage travel kids room and that actual map rolled up in the closet.
    We will definitely be doing this!

    Also, the original photo isn’t a DIY. It can be found at Hobby Lobby and is $$$.

    • 35

      What a fun room. I love that you have a rolled map all ready to go for this project. Would love to see it if you get around to it and want to share! Thanks so much for sharing that with me.

  23. 36

    That is UH-MA-ZING! Beautifully done! Perfect for everyday decor! Thanks for the tutorial Amy!

  24. 38

    what a cool idea Amy!! I love how this turned out!

  25. 39

    Saw this exact same thing here in Australia for $60!!! I loved it too… Thanks for the tutorial..

  26. 40

    I LOVE this Amy!! I was sitting here looking at it when my son walked by…he LOVED it and wants me to make him one to put in his barracks ……he is leaving for the Navy next month and wants to be able to put this on his wall and put pins in for every place he visits……thank you SO much for the tutorial! It’s awesome!!

  27. 41
    Michelle says:

    So excited to see this tutorial! I’ve been looking for a unique way to make a map to pin everywhere I’ve been! (12 countries and counting :) thanks!

  28. 42

    Hi Amy, quick Question…. I tried a map project that was like this but on canvas. When I tried to mod podge the map, it bubbled badly. Do you have any tips that i can try to avoid the bubbles. Your map looks so smooth!


    • 43

      Great question. We made sure to put it on one strip at a time. We had a few helpers and then we just made sure to rub it outwards to push out any bubbles as we went. Then we went over it a couple of times to make sure there were no bubbles while it was still wet. It took a while but with the map in smaller strips we were able to get most of the bubbles out. Hope that helps!

  29. 44

    Looks amazing! And is his bed made out of pallets too?!?!

  30. 46

    What did use on the back of the plywood to hang it up? Did you screw in hooks or cut out small square so you can hang it?

    • 47

      Great question. We screwed in two smaller screws and then ran some wire around them and them hung it on a screw in the wall. Hope that helps.

  31. 48

    I really love this! We are building a cabin in Alaska this summer and building our own furniture for it. This would make a really wonderful coffee table top. Thank you so much!

  32. 50

    This is a great project. Thank you for sharing and thank the person that posted the original project as well.

    However, I do have a comment about the finish that you used. You stated that you used Polyurethane as the top finish but you have a picture of a can of Minwax Polycrylic. They are two different products. Polyurethane can be used indoors or outdoors and can yellow over time from UV exposure (although they now have some formulas that reduce the yellowing). Polycrylic is used indoors and typically will not yellow. In the case of your project, yellowing over time might even enhance the “Old World” feel so if you used either one for an indoor project it would work fine. However, if you wanted to make one of these and hang it outdoors, then I would recommend using the Polyurethane if it is not protected from the elements.

    • 51

      You are correct. I did use Polycrylic and accidentally mis-stated that I used Polyurethane. I tend to interchange those two words incorrectly often. Thanks for pointing that out. I will make the edit changes. Thanks so much Steve!

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  35. 54

    Do you think you can use Tacky Glue instead of mod podge to glue down the map?

    Thanks for the tutorial! Just cut my palette boards!

    • 55

      I am not sure. I would test a small corner first and let it dry to see how it works. I like that the Mod Podge is thin and smooth.

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    My wife and I just finished ours based off of this tutorial. It is the best looking project we have done to date. Thank you so much for this!

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  41. 61

    I have never used Mod Podge before, so I’m trying to read about it and it seems that some use it on top as a protective layer. Is that needed for this project or is it just used as a glue on the back side of the map? Thanks!

    • 62

      You can just use it on the bottom as a glue. I like to use the Matte finish Mod Podge and do a top protective layer as well…but it is unnecessary on this project. The matte finish is nice because it doesn’t have a glare on it like the gloss finish will.

  42. 63
    Jen Murray says:

    This is fabulous! How did you connect the wood strips back together with a space between each one? Thanks for sharing!

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    Jennifer Long says:

    I love, love, love this! We recently moved to the coastal area of SC around Hilton Head Island. I was in West Marine with my husband and found a map of the coastal areas between Savannah GA, where my husband now works, and up to St. Helena, SC. It also includes Parris Island Marine Corps Training Depot which is where my son, whom we lost in active duty in 2012, went to bootcamp. I knew I wanted that map for my wall! Exploring HHI I came across a photo frame in one of the shops made from what appeared to be pallets, and my mind was tossing around ideas. Your layout was exactly where I wanted to go with this. I’m so excited and I have dismantled my free pallets and tea stained and burned my map. I just need to put it all together. Thank you so much for showing me the way! I’d just hug your neck if I could, this is a personal quest <3

  50. 72
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