How to make a picket fence American wall flag

A large wooden flag wall hanging like this would cost in the neighborhood of $100 at a store, but we made ours for practically nothing with materials we had laying around the house and yard. We built ours from old wooden fence pickets, but you could use any old (or even new) wood that you have.  We actually keep a stack of wood boards outside to weather for use in decorative projects. Here's how we built our wall flag:

A few years ago we built fencing to contain our raspberry plants. We thought the style was aesthetic and functional. However, the pickets on the back of the fencing eventually began to twist and warp. We decided to remove them. Rather than throw them on our burn pile, I wanted to find a way to recycle the wood. I love finding new uses for old things! Weathered wood is great for country-style crafts and d├ęcor, so I came up with the idea of making a wooden American flag to hang on the wall.

After prying off all of the pickets with a flat bar and pulling out the nails, I selected 13 that were the flattest and straightest. They weren’t “square,” though, so lining them up was like putting a puzzle together, figuring out which ones fit best next to each other.

Once I had the pickets selected and laid out, I numbered them on the back side so that I wouldn't lose their order.

  We power-washed the back side of the pickets with a good deal of pressure to remove all dirt and moss.

To get the edges clean, we turned them on their side and held them tightly together with clamps. This prevented the front side from receiving the high pressure cleaning.

We power-washed the front side gently in order to retain some of that beautiful, silvery weathered look.

  After all that washing, we let the pickets sit in the sun to dry for 24 hours. The next day, I measured out the area for the blue field or “union” of the flag.

I found some left-over blue stain that we used for the trim on the shed at our previous home, and some red stain that we used on the exterior doors in our current home. I love it when I can use what I have on hand, and I also like using things that carry memories! I stained some of the pickets red for the red stripes of the flag, and the others I left as bare wood for the white stripes.

After they dried, we turned the project over and screwed a piece of plywood to the back side to hold the pickets together.


I wanted the stars to be bare wood, the same as the “white” stripes, so I needed to create a reverse stencil. We found a template of the 50-star union on the Internet, printed it out and enlarged it to the size we wanted. Then we cut out the stars using a utility knife, which gave us a 50-star stencil and 50 cut-out stars. I taped the stencil onto the area for the blue field.

  I laid the 50 cut-out stars on a board and sprayed them with repositional adhesive mounting spray. You can buy this at craft stores; I had some on hand from previous craft projects.

  I transferred the sprayed stars onto the cut-out areas on the stencil.

  Then I removed the stencil and pressed the stars down firmly onto the wooden surface. This was really easy to do and didn’t take long at all. I taped off the area around the union before applying the stain.

 I dabbed the blue stain on with a sponge brush. I did not use brush strokes or drag the stain across the field. I came straight down on the surface with dabbing motions so as not to lift up the edges of the stars or let stain get under them. Then I used paper towels to dab off as much stain as I wanted to remove. Again, I didn’t rub or drag; I just kept dabbing with dry paper towels until I was satisfied with the result.

  Then the exciting part . . . I lifted the star cut-outs off of the field of blue. Voila! Almost perfect stars applied with a reverse stencil. And even if they’re not perfect, that’s OK, because this flag has a rustic look anyhow!

  After the stain dried, I sprayed the whole flag with matte finishing spray to protect the stain from getting scratched or faded. We screwed hangers on the back side and hung it on the wall above the fireplace.

There she is … our recycled picket fence turned into the Grand Old Flag! Old Glory! We pledge our allegiance!

You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

(“You’re a Grand Old Flag” by George M. Cohan)

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  1. Our flag is a precious and beautiful reminder of the best of America. How lovely that you created and displayed this version over your hearth, and in the center of your home. Your step by step instructions show how much thought and care you put into your piece, making something that was old and ready for the burn pile into something new and meaningful. So, in addition to the beautiful piece of Americana you created, you also made a picture of what God does for us at the time of redemption. :)

    1. Oh Becky, your comment is so beautiful. I love the way your mind thinks and your heart feels. You have such a lovely way of saying things! Thank you! ~Katie

  2. Thank you for sharing this post on our From the Farm Blog Hop. I have always loved your flag project. In fact, I just pinned this post to a few of my Pinterest boards. I know that my followers will love learning how to make one of these for themselves.

    I hope that you'll come back and link up again next week.

    Jennifer @1840Farm

    1. Thank you Jennifer! And thank you for hosting From the Farm Blog Hop! ~Katie

  3. Awesome pictures, I really love this very much. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Very nice work. It looks great above the fireplace. I was wondering, what are the dimensions of the wooden flag that you went with?

    1. Hi there! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! The official US flag has designated sizes and proportions. If interested, you can read about it here:
      My wooden wall hanging is a depiction of the US flag and is not in keeping with standard proportions. I think its odd proportion is a little bit quirky and adds to the primitive look of it. It is 48" x 33". If I was making a real flag out of cloth to fly outdoors (which I have), I would keep it at a standard size. Best wishes to you! ~Katie

  5. Beautiful job on the flag, really makes a stunning statement above your fireplace!

    1. Thank you Lesa! We hang the "flag" above the fireplace from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and then I change to a fall theme (followed by Christmas and Spring). I miss the flag when it's not up; it's my favorite! Thanks for coming by and your very kind comment! ~Katie

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  7. After a lot painting, sanding, and repainting I finally got it to be what I wanted... paradise!privacy fence estimate

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  10. planning on priming or sanding before I paint. I'll just make sure that I clean off any remaining debris on the surface before painting. The wood is too worn and it takes a regular beating to make a difference.cedar fence

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