If I told you that this project cost me a grand total of $0, would you believe me?

Seriously, the pallet was free, the paint was leftover, – I might have spent a few cents on sandpaper – but truthfully, I didn’t buy a single thing to make this!

My friend Cheryl had sent me a message a few weeks ago asking what tools I recommended for making pallet projects.  When I asked her what she had in mind – she sent me this photo:

pallet whale I

click image for link

He’s unavailable right now, but click the image and you will see similar items for $173 to $300 US per.

I saved the image to my wish list of projects to do ‘someday’.

THEN, my friend Serena asked me if I would help her find a pallet for a project she wanted to do….

tell me the stars weren’t lining up?  It seemed sacrilegious to ignore the signs being sent to me, so I grabbed a pallet myself and started my whale that evening.

Note:  This is a sponsored post in that I was given Rockwell Tools in return for posting articles when I used them.  The tools I received were the JawHorse, the Bladerunner and the Sonicrafter – the Versacut I had purchased myself prior to any affiliation with Rockwell Tools.  All opinions are my own.

Pallet Projects – Whale Fence Art

Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale

If you are thinking of trying a project like this, I really do recommend the Rockwell Tools Versacut circular saw.  It’s small enough that you can control it with one hand, and not nearly as intimidating, or pricey, as full-sized circular saws.

Rockwell Tools - Versacut Saw

Make a perfect cut the first time, every time.
The Rockwell VersaCut is a powerful, multi-functional, ultra-compact circular saw which can cut different materials such as wood, flooring, plastic, ceramic tiles, slate, aluminum and even sheet metal. The VersaCut features a lightweight, compact and balanced design that is perfect for everyday cuts. With the VersaCut, you can tackle the job with ease, comfort, control and with just one hand. The slim grip handle improves comfort and enhances grip and control, allowing you to guide the saw with just one hand.

The Versacut made short work of the pallet sides – I cut them off on both sides of the pallet and was left with this:

Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale

Okay, not quite this – there were some cross boards on the back, but I forgot to take a photo before I removed them.  All you need is a hammer at this point; tap the underside of the boards and they will rise fairly easily, then use the claw end to pull them out.

I used those “spare” back boards as filler for the front of my whale.  I cut them in half on a table saw, although the Rockwell Bladerunner would have worked as well, just a bit more slowly, and I was eager.  I interspersed them onto the front of my pallet project and nailed them into place.

Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale

You can see that all the gaps are filled and I even tried out a tester drop of “blood red” just to see how it would look.  Kidding, I sacrificed my thumb to the DIY Gods with the hammer and there was a slight leakage of hemoglobin all over my hand, the floor and my soon-to-be whale.

Once I was bandaged up and had feeling back in my thumb, I traced out the approximate shape of the whale I wanted, and then cut him out using a jig saw.

Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale

The C-clamp you see on his lower lip was because I didn’t think the project through completely (typical of me really) – in that there was no way for the lower jaw to be attached without another cross-brace in place on the back.

The dotted lines show where I attached 2×2 scrap pieces of wood (on the back) to keep his tail and lip from falling off, and across his back to hang him from.

I gave the surface a light sanding to get rid of the blood blue marker lines and any large slivers that might make hanging him up painful, but I left most of the blemishes to keep the distressed/aged look.

Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale

Next up, I dug around my paint stash and came up with a few colours I thought would go together well.  I didn’t buy a single tester pot – honestly.  The light blue was from my hanging plant stand, the indigo from my outdoor wall clock, the green was from my watermelon tray of last week and the grey was from Chloe’s dollhouse.  (The navy you’ll see in a second was from this antique dresser).

I watered each colour down on a 1:1 ratio and then coated the “pallet project – whale” twice.

Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale

By watering it down you create more of a wash than a solid colour, so you can still see the wood grain through the finish.

Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale

The inspiration photo shows a more distressed look, and since I am a consummate plagiarist, I decided I needed something else to get mine up to her/his high standard – so I dry-brushed some navy paint around the edges and over a few rough surfaces.

‘Dry brushing’ just means putting a small amount of paint on a dry paintbrush and then dabbing it on a paper towel or cloth until there is very little left on the brush – then you lightly wipe it back and forth across the surfaces you want darker.

Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale

This is him after the dry-brushing and with two coats of polyurethane over top to protect him for a few years.  Yup, the dry-brushing made a giant difference.

Isn’t he to-die-for!  (Squeal!)

Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale

Next to the pool and the 8 foot fence, he looks more like a guppy.

You can see below that I left the centre pallet board intact and it sticks out a bit at the ends – I should have cut it off, but it was too thick for my jig saw and I didn’t trust myself not to saw through the whale’s body if I used my Versacut – so it stays, and if anyone asks “it’s intentional”.

Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale

Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale

What are you doing this weekend?

I know a free project you could try?

Pallet Projects - Fence Art Whale


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Have a great one!


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