DIY Wood Signs
By Contributing writer Laura.
Out of all of the projects in my home, my homemade signs DEFINITELY get the most “how did you do that?” reactions. Making signs started when I had lots of wall space to fill and after numerous attempts at finding LARGE signs in retail shops, I never saw any that had the right quote and right size all in one. Making a sign on a budget gives you versatility and over time you can simply paint over it and start fresh as your decor changes.
All 3 signs are made the same. As you will see, the width of the wood and the orientation are different. The beauty of this project is that it’s ALL up to you~choose your preference and don’t look back!! I have found that the wider wood takes less time because of less cutting, less screwing and not having to paint the gaps and is a much easier process. Since I have several signs around my home I like to switch it up a bit!! I hope this post inspires you to make a focal point for your home that is uniquely yours!
Wood~I buy unfinished CHEAP wood from Home Depot. Choose a WIDTH and buy enough pieces for the size of your sign. (SUMMER sign~3 pieces of 8 foot wood for less than $5) ALSO purchase the wood for the back of the sign~this is a personal preference.
Screws~I used 1 1/4 inch screws and prefer the black ones~no reason other than sometimes I leave the black showing.
Paint~ 2+ colors. One will be the color of the background and One the color of the letters. For the SUMMER sign I used acrylic craft paint in white, 2 different shades of blue and yellow.
Chipboard~ this can be found at Hobby Lobby or Michaels. It is cardboard letters used for scrapbooking. A whole pack is normally no more than $5 and they go half off quite often. Font is up to you. For the SUMMER sign I simply used a font that fit the wood!
Sandpaper/Stain/Wax: OPTIONAL~ I like all things rustic. Sanding and staining also covers up imperfections and with DIY projects thats a PERK!!
Step 1: Find a quote that you LOVE! Any quote, saying, song lyric, etc..
Step 2: Purchase the wood based on the size of sign you are creating. If wood is sold in an 8 foot piece, think about how it will cut down to avoid waste. (the SWEET SWEET LIFE sign is 24 inches X 43 inches which was 7 pieces of wood at less than $1 each) If you do not have a saw to cut it, ask your home improvement store to cut it for you. ! It may not be a perfect cut but check and hopefully its close. Make sure you buy wood for the back of the sign. Not too thick as you want it to be close to the wall. This needs to be just under the width/length of the sign. ALWAYS make sure all the wood is straight and not warped~ its never 100% perfect but some are crazy twisted or damaged!
Step 3: Once your wood is cut, lay it out. Some wood has a rougher side. Some lay flatter than others. NONE of my signs are the exactly perfect as far as length of the slats so I make sure I mix them so it looks like it was meant to be that way~ thats what RUSTIC is all about 🙂
Step 4: Screw the top wood into the bottom pieces. I prefer to drill a small hole with a drill bit. It makes the process of using screws much easier. Its a pain to do this extra step but it really makes a difference. If you choose not to make sure you put pressure on the drill and wood when you are installing the screw. You will see in the picture below that some of the wood split when the screw went in~ pre-drilling a hole prevents this from happening!
Step 5: Paint the background color on the wood. A little sanding before painting is always good but not necessary. Paint the back first. let it dry and then paint the front. I have spray painted signs and I have painted them with craft/acrylic paint. Its your choice!
**At this point in the picture examples I changed signs~ You will see they are put together the same way just different widths of wood!! The SWEET SWEET LIFE sign was my 1st sign I have ever made. You will see on the SUMMER sign that my edges are closer to the same. I have them both hung, imperfections and all, and I LOVE them both!! If you are not happy with the way the edges line up, STOP during the assembling process and trim/sand and adjust!
Step 6: Using your chipboard, lay out your words. There are going to be words that need a letter from a previous word. I do my best to leave space to make sure the entire phrase fits before tracing. TRACE the letters with a pencil. If you plan to paint the letters black, you can also use a sharpie which will make the painting process easier but I prefer a pencil for most projects.
Step 7: Hand paint the letters. Yes, this is time consuming (that is why my daughter is painting the SUMMER sign!!) Don’t worry about it being too perfect, especially if you plan to distress it. You will just sand the mistakes a little more than the other areas 🙂 For the SUMMER project~ the YELLOW “life gets better” didn’t pop so I took the eraser of a pencil (still attached to the pencil) and lined the letters with blue.
Step 8: Sand the sign. Sand the edges. Sand the letters lightly. This is also personal preference.
Step 9: Stain the sign (OPTIONAL) Since we live near the beach I am always a fan of making a sign look old. Some would say stains and dark wax make projects look dirty but I’ll let you decide! Sometimes I use stain (my favorite is COFFEE colored stain from Home Depot) but I also use Annie Sloan Dark Wax. I am attaching a VILANO sign that I painted white, painted the letters a grayish brown and stained it. It was a FAIL! I then dry brushed it with gray paint and then waxed it just hoping all the layers would come together…I just kept going until I liked the outcome so don’t give up if you don’t like it. Dry brushing simply means taking a dry brush, barely dipping the tip in paint and making random striation marks on the wood.
You can see by the picture that the SUMMER sign really adds a lot of bang for the buck in this room! You can start off as easy as the VILANO sign below using one piece of wood that you may already have lying around OR take on a big project for a focal point of a room~ you really have nothing to lose but maybe a little time BUT in the end you may have something you LOVE and will have in your home for years to come! Check out a few other projects I have made~