wood plank u.s.a


We’re a very patriotic bunch around here (comes with the job, I think) and I’m always on the hunt for ways to add touches of our country to our home without overdoing the whole “Americana” theme. Maps are way in right now. I’ve seen them everywhere and been tempted to jump on board for months. I’d about decided to buy a huge map of the United States and have it framed when I saw this piece of wall art:



It’s from Pottery Barn and it costs $349. Figures. Because I could decorate our entire house with nothing but PB products and be completely happy. And then we’d eat ramen noodles for the next ten years to pay for it all. I’d get sick of ramen after the first two years, so I showed the planks to Caleb and we set out to make our own version with a few adjustments. I wanted my USA a little more proportionally accurate and in two pieces instead of four.

This is what we created:


I created “stain” for this project by soaking steel wool in vinegar for several days.


It’s much cheaper than buying a can of stain and doesn’t take days to dry. This is my new favorite way to age wood. After 24 hours in the vinegar you can remove the steel wool and give your wood a slightly bluish tint. Or you can let the mixture sit until the steel wool starts to rust and your wood will be a reddish color. Ps. it also stains hands, feet, clothes, the garage floor, and my 4-year-old’s face. AND it will make your house smell like vinegar for days. Not the pleasant “I’ve just cleaned the floor” smell, but the “open a window or we’re gonna suffocate” smell.


Caleb says it finally looks like the cedar branch fits into the decor. Ironically, I am planning to get rid of it this weekend. But what a conversation piece it has been! Seriously, hang a branch over your table and invite someone over. Not a single person has come to this house without commenting on the branch.

Anyway, back to the Pottery Barn knockoff.


This special little touch is just to clear up any confusion for my littlest man who kept pointing to Florida and saying “My house is here!”


Chrissy said…
Did you free-hand the USA outline? Did you paint over the stain? Thank you. I want one, but can't afford $349 at Pottery Barn.
Jackie said…
Hi Chrissy, after the stained boards had dried we situated them on the wall how we (actually I) like them. My husband borrowed a projector and shined the outline of the US directly on the wood. I traced around the shadow with a pencil and filled in in with paint afterward. If you paint directly over the stain some will bleed through the white paint and make it look a little dirty, which is exactly what I was going for so it worked out nicely. Hope that helps you with your project :)
Cassie said…
Dumb question, but what size boards did you use and apporx how many? Did you screw them together or nail...

Newbie at DYI and have been drooling over this at PotteryBarn for months!
Jackie said…
Hi Cassie, we used 1x6 and 1x4 boards for the USA and very thin 1x2 pieces to connect them along the back. I probably used about nine 6ft boards in 1x4 size and three 6ft boards in 1x6 size. I cut them to various lengths and pieced the whole thing together on the floor before beginning assembly. Then turned them all over and screwed together with strips of 1x2s along the back. Hope that makes sense.
Good luck with your project!
Anonymous said…
I love the way your map turned out!! My husband is working on one for us now. He has the boards cut and we are getting ready to soak the steel wool in the vinegar. I hope we can get our stain to look as nice. What kind of paint did you use for the map? Did you seal it afterward?