DIY wall art – tell your story with scrap wood

DIY wall art - tell your story with scrap woodFor better or worse producing the  coasters, HOME signs and other decor items for my business Cheltenham Road creates a lot of scrap wood. I do my best to use every piece but sometimes the random bits pile up.

While perusing a Pottery Barn catalog the other day I saw this piece of wall art:

img65cand being me, rather than thinking “I should buy that!” I totally thought, “I should make that with all the scrap wood!”

I let the idea bounce around in my brain (there’s space) and it kind of morphed into making a piece of dimensional DIY wall art that reflects the places I’d called home over the years – New York, Ohio, California etc.

You may be thinking “that’s nice for you David but I don’t have piles of wood scraps lying around.” But I assure you, a quick trip to Home Depot and their leftover lumber pile would provide you with all the pieces for this project for just a few bucks.

I started off with a backer board that measured 26×10″ and then just played around with random pieces of wood until I found an arrangement that appealed. Here is what I ended up with:


  • Backer Board: 26″x 10″
  • Random bits of plywood of various shapes
  • Some smaller scrap pieces to use as risers
  • 1″ Square dowels: Two measuring 28″ long and two measuring 10″ long for the frame
  • Graphics
  • Screws
  • White Paint
  • Mod Podge!
  • Wood glue

Tools Used:

  • Electric Drill
  • Electric Sander (sandpaper and elbow grease would also be fine)
  • saw (I had to trim a couple of the pieces of wood the the framing dowels)
  • sharp craft knife

First I arranged all my scrap pieces on the backer board to make sure everything still fit together.

Test-FitI had, in MSWord, resized my graphics to fit on each piece of wood. My graphics are just old postcards, maps and even a quick internet download of the poster from my favorite movie.

Once I was sure everything fit together I decoupaged the graphics onto their respective scraps of wood, let them dry and then trimmed the edges of any overhanging bits of paper. To give a bit of distress I used my electric sander to gently sand away the edges of the panels to expose a bit of the wood.


I reassembled the design and then played a bit with what I wanted each level to be by placing the smaller scrap wood risers under the panels with the graphics:


Once I had it the way I wanted it I used wood glue to attach the spacers to the back of the graphic panels and then to the backer board. A hot glue gun would work here too but my encounters with hot glue guns inevitably end in the smell of burning flesh and swearing so . . .

While everything was drying I laid out the frame around the edges. I decided that I wanted a basic, rustic look so I planned on simple butt joints rather than mitered corners.


I did mark where I wanted to drill pilot holes for the screws that would hold the frame together. I also marked and drilled holes where the frame would attach to the backer board.


(the pilot holes are key – when you’re drilling into the end of a piece of wood pilot holes will prevent the wood from splitting when you screw in the screw.). Once all the various glued pieces were dry I screwed the frame into place.

My original idea was to leave the frame unfinished but after I put it all together I decided it should be white and did a quick, light, paint job.

And, finally, I sealed all the images with a coat of Matte Mod Podge.

DIY wall art - tell your story with scrap wood DIY wall art - tell your story with scrap wood DIY wall art - tell your story with scrap wood

Thoughts and Ideas

As with all my projects, once it’s done I think of a million different options.

  • I used plywood because that’s what I had on hand but anything  sturdy would work for the graphics – even mat board or foam core if you didn’t want to deal with lumber.
  • I thought it might be cool to do this for a child – to show their life – you could use photos, report cards, school projects/drawings, favorite book covers (all laser copies of course).
  • I left the edges of my graphic panels unpainted but they might look nice painted black – just to emphasize the dimensionality a bit more.
  • If you didn’t want to deal with sawing wood you could design the pieces to overlap which I think would look really cool!

If you have any questions or if anything is unclear don’t hesitate to ask – I will monitor the comments section.

And, if you’re keen for more projects (or stories of hot glue mishaps) please peruse my blog, see the genesis of some of my ideas via my Pinterest pages or see some finished work in my Etsy shop!




  1. Medusa says

    Fabulous idea and I love that it can incorporate individual personal memories. Great! Can’t wait to give it a go. Just need to gather up some scrap pieces of wood…. maybe from my neighbour’s skip….?