This Live Edge Rustic Pallet Headboard measures 5' x 5' including the frame. The size of the visible, decorative headboard portion is just over 3' x 5'. I tried to use the most unique-looking pieces of wood for the project and found some with live edges. The boards I received varied in width (either 3.5" or 5.5"). All of the deck boards were about 40" long.
I wanted to use a dark, medium, and light stain to make the piece pop a little bit more, instead of a single color. Most parts received two coats of Polycrylic; while a few received three due to bubbling issues. Since some of the boards were kept a bit rough on the edges, bubbling was a problem for a couple of those boards.
Live Edge Rustic Pallet Headboard - The build:
To start, I cut two 2x4" boards to the height I wanted. I cut more pieces to create a frame, and then added two more vertical supports, approximately equally-spaced to attach the boards in the middle. Then, I cut the various pallet boards to length, staggering the seam line for interest. I stained them all with three different tones of stain, then applied several coats of Polycrylic as needed. Finally, I installed it all and enjoyed the final look in our room!
Live Edge Rustic Pallet Headboard - Editor's note:
Editor's note (and personal experience): With "Live-Edge," bark-covered, or unique-edged wood, knot holes, etc., you'll have more bubbling because the wood defects have air pockets. There will be more incidences of bubbles. Sometimes you can CONSERVATIVELY use a heat gun IN A WELL-VENTILATED AREA with gentle sweeps at a distance of approximately 16" or so (to warm the surface a bit - remember heat guns are used to REMOVE coatings too). This gently encourages natural popping.
There's an excellent article at doityourself.com regarding dealing with bubbles in polyurethane finishes. We've included a link for you, as well as shared the informative article here. Thank you doyityourself.com - they're a great resource for lots of handy tips!
Live Edge Rustic Pallet Headboard - Relax & get the right tools:
1. Stir the Can before Use and Take Your Time: Resist temptation and stir the contents with a paint stick in a gentle, swirling motion. This reduces bubble formation. The creation of bubbles is more a function of the motion and speed of the brush than any other factor. Take your time when applying the finish and there will be less of an opportunity for air bubbles to form.
2. Use a GOOD QUALITY Natural Bristle Brush: To reduce the chance for bubbles to form, you should use a thick, good-quality natural bristle one. This type will not create foam or bubbles when used to apply the finish. They're expensive, but they're worth it. Thicker brushes for finish work are so dense they don't tend to hold a lot of bubbles if properly cared for.
Live Edge Rustic Pallet Headboard - Steady as she goes:
3. Avoid Creating Foam: Apply the polyurethane finish with even strokes to avoid creating foam. The foam will naturally cause bubbles to form and create a messy, uneven result.
4. Tip-off Finish: Use a “tip-off” motion when stopping the application of finish by simply running the brush stroke across the wood and lifting the brush upward at the end of the stroke. Run the brush lightly over the area to pull the finish over the surface. This creates an even application of the finish and doesn't cause air bubbles the way other techniques can.
Live Edge Rustic Pallet Headboard - It's not always perfect...:
Be aware that following this advice and steps recommended by the manufacturer may still not eliminate all of the bubbles. In those instances where they still occur, allow them to hopefully dissipate on their own. Any remaining imperfections in the finish can be removed with mineral spirits for a period up to 20 to 30 minutes after drying. Gently wipe the bubbles away and, if necessary, reapply the polyurethane finish to the area.
Following these steps should help minimize the creation of air pockets and make your wood finishing projects more successful.