Here’s how to easily make wooden food photography backgrounds using a wooden pallet. Step-by-step photos (and a video) will take you through breaking down the pallet, assembling the boards, and painting your new food photography backgrounds!
I finally got sick of my food photography backgrounds. And maybe a little jealous of all those beautiful wood backgrounds I see on other bloggers’ sites. And maybe a little delusional with the idea that if I just had better backgrounds, my food photos would instantly be 100% pro level awesomeness and I’d get, like, a million new blog followers.
Okay, so maybe I didn’t get a million new blog followers (ah, dang). But I think these backgrounds do add a lot to my food photography. And the two blue boards I ended up making add a lot of color and fun to the process. Not to mention that I love, LOVE, my new dark wood board:
So, want to make your own wooden food photography backgrounds? Here’s what you’ll need:
- An old wood pallet OR thin boards similar to the kind you’ll find on a wooden pallet. I used 1 pallet to make 2 boards.
- 2 thin boards that are about 1.5″ wide, 1/4″ thick for the “crossbeams” that connect all the pallet boards (you’ll see what I mean in the pics below).
- Paint & wood stain. I did a total of 2 boards, 4 sides, and used the following paints: wood stain (for the board above), black and a grayish blue (for the board in the cupcake picture at top), a bluish-torquoise color for the board in the taco picture (below), and brown paint that was then mostly sanded off for the light board (bottom of post). Each paint sample cost $4.50, and the stain was $4.00, coming to a total of $22 in paint. Note: that $22 was the only expense so far, since the boards were free–the thin ones were scraps, and the pallet was laying around not being used.
- Tools you need: sander, sandpaper (cost me $5.00 for all I needed), jigsaw (any saw will work, but the jigsaw is fairly safe and easy to use so that’s what I did), hammer, screwdriver and small screws (a nail gun would also work), paper towels, paintbrush.
And that’s it! So let’s get down to business! You can follow the video below, or the detailed step-by-step photos and directions after the video!
Step 1: Pretty easy despite the blurry pic above. Just cut right along the edges of the pallet on both sides of the board.
Step 2: Wiggle the board around to loosen it a bit.
Step 3: Get your hammer in there and wedge the board off. Don’t worry too much about creating dents on the bottom of the board.
Step 4: Shake it around some more until it comes loose, then hammer the nails out.
Step 5: Once you have all the boards removed, line them up to make your background, then get your thin piece of wood for the crossbeam. Measure the length you need for cutting.
Step 6: Cut the small board where you marked it.
Step 7: my pallet had some rough edges along the boards, so I had to sand those off. If you don’t have rough edges and they’ll line up nice without sanding, skip on!
Step 8: Line up all the finished boards and sand that side off. Then put the small boards you just cut on top and screw it all together. As you’re screwing, make sure the boards are as tightly pressed together as they can be. If you’ve got any cracks in the board like you see on the far left side of mine, just press the cracked parts together and put screws on either side. Try not to screw directly over cracks or it will make them worse!
Step 9: Flip the finished board over and sand the other side off.
Step 10: Wipe down the sanded board with a damp rag or else you’ll get sander dust mixed with your paint!
Step 10: Paint or stain your food photography backgrounds. When painting, I diluted the paint by mixing it with water in a 60% paint, 40% water ratio (don’t worry about measuring exactly!). Then I painted it on and wiped the board down with paper towels while it was still wet. I was going for a slightly faded look on the paint, so if you want a bolder look, don’t do that step and maybe even don’t dilute your paint.
The board below I used stain on. I have seen other bloggers paint their boards with brown paint to get this look, and I did try that. I didn’t like how it turned out, however, because the beautiful grain and streaks of the wood got hidden beneath the paint. With the stain, the wood’s natural grain shows up way, way better. For that reason, I do recommend you use stain. Be aware that it’s pretty toxic, so do it outside and be sure to let your board dry for several hours before you take it inside.
Step 11: With either paint or stain, I wiped it down with paper towels before it dried. This prevented the stain from getting too dark and the paint from being too heavy and hiding the texture of the board. Since I was doing it on a very hot day, the stain dried really fast, so I stained half the board, dried half, then stained the other half and dried that.
And that’s it!
The food photography background on the left above was the one I painted brown. I didn’t like it that way, so ended up sanding off most of the brown paint. I really like the way it looks now! Also, I hadn’t painted the back of the brown one when I took this photo, but I ended up going with the blue color below:
To get this look, I painted the board black and then painted blue on top of that with the blue paint diluted about 50/50 with water.
And there it is! I can’t wait to take more photos with my new boards!
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