How to Make DIY Wood Signs? Easy and Simple Project to Elevate Your Living Space

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As a homeowner who fancies woodworking activities, creating home decor from scratch probably already crossed your mind. After all, it’s a great idea to display your crafty skills by putting up DIY wood signs on your walls. 

In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through a straightforward step-by-step process to craft rustic wooden signs for your home, room, or office. Having made many of these myself, I’m confident that you’ll find success in your DIY project with these guidelines.

How to Make DIY Wood Signs?

Before I list the tools and materials for this sign tutorial, I recommend choosing based on both the look and technical aspects of the sign you’re passionate about creating for your home. Having crafted many signs myself, it’s essential to love the process and the result.

wooden sign

To make super easy wood signs you’ll love for your home and that will stand the test of time or for your high school wooden project submission that can give you that A+, the materials you’ll need for this DIY projects must be durable and suitable to the crafting method you love to use.

Tools and Materials You Need

First, you must decide which kind of painted wood sign you want your design to be made of for your home. Local craft and home improvement stores sell various pre-cut lumber boards that come in different sign styles, qualities, and sizes.

Although most hardware stores will offer to cut the lumber or wood frame to make super easy for you, you would still need a reliable handheld circular saw or table saw to easily customize to cut your wood frame sign depending on how big or small you want your sign to look like. 

Don’t forget to choose a paint or stain that you love for the background of your sign. From my experience, any type works as long as it effectively stains or paints the board’s background. And naturally, you’ll need a paintbrush for this project. Though I often use brushes, some folks prefer using a small foam paint roller when crafting their DIY signs for their homes.

paint brushes and tools

I also suggest including an orbital sander or drum sander in your tools list to make wooden signs smooth on the edges of the frame and prevent unintended splinters during the process of construction. But if you don’t mind doing a bit of labor, you can sand down the rough edges manually with top-performing sandpapers for wood.  

Creating a stencil or printout of your design ahead of time would make it easier for you to make one great DIY wooden farmhouse sign for your home. You can also throw in some oil-based sharpie and pens, which will help make wood signs colorful and bright. 

One should consider buying pine boards and stain paint, as these will be used for making and polishing the wood frames of the DIY sign for your home. You’ll also be needing a hammer and finishing nails in the latter part of the woodworking sign process. 

Choose and Prepare Your Wood

Cut and Sand the Base

One of the most common boards you can buy from your local store is the Baltic birch plywood that comes in 2” x 2” and 2” x 4” sheets.  If you want to make your wooden sign smaller than that, you can always opt to cut them yourself using a circular or table saw. 

sanding wooden board with orbital sander

Although you can choose any kind of lumber when creating rustic wood signs, we’re firmly against the use of thin plywoods. During one of the tests, I found out that the wood’s thickness corresponds to how well you can attach the frame to the signage.

Make sure that you also cut two smaller boards or plywood with similar length as this will be attached on the back of your wood sign using a hammer and nail to serve as your support hangers f you will decorate it in your home. 

Paint and Stain the Wood

White is undoubtedly a popular choice as a base color for signs. However, to elevate the look of your hand-painted lettering wood signs, consider using vibrant, rustic, and lively hues to add a touch of elegance and flair.

Make sure to sand your wooden sign board before and after putting a layer of paint on its surface. Let it dry completely in preparation for the next step of this tutorial. 

staining wood

Aside from sign painting, you can also decorate it using wood stain. Many woodworkers are not keen on this process because of the fumes and chemicals it contains. In that case, a water-based wood stain would be the best solution you could find. 

Other than the absence of toxic chemicals, water-based wood stains tend to hold color better and have better UV protection compared to oil-based products. When applying these onto the board, remember to brush the stain in the same direction as the lines.

There are many great tint colors you will love available in the market to suit the needs of your DIY wood sign project for your home, like walnut, grey, cascade, and many more. Let it sit for a while, or you can also try blowdrying if you want the sign to dry faster. 

Prepare Desired Text or Imagery

The next step in this tutorial is to finally add your design to the board’s surface. You could use these four super easy methods when laying down the letters on the rustic and smoothened lumber.

preparing the desired text for a wood sign

You could use these four super easy methods when laying down the letters on the rustic and smoothened lumber. 

Printed Design

If you want to have complete control over your board’s overall look, in this tutorial you will know that it’s a great idea to print your design ahead. Through some photo editing software tutorial, you can find all kinds of fonts and patterns to make your board achieve the aesthetic element you want.

After printing, you can transfer it from paper to the board using a super easy pencil technique. Turn over the paper and rub the pencil lead on its back to pass on the letters and patterns on the wood signs’ surface. 

But if your wood sign is dark in color, you should consider using white chalk paint instead of pencil lead. You should also check if the letters are centered and straight, as this is often overlooked during the DIY sign-making process. Try to use painter’s tape to prevent the paper from moving. 

printed design for a wood sign

From my experience, it’s essential to use light pressure when tracing the design from paper to the board; this way, you can prevent unwanted marks on your wood sign. Once you’ve traced, feel free to add color to your design using markers, sharpies, or paint. I’ve tried all, and each has its unique touch!

Stencil

In this tutorial making a stencil design for any craft gives you artistic freedom and saves you time to make signs more customizable. Some stencil packages already come with great saying and a set of letters, so you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself.

You can use many types of stencils for this DIY woodworking project, like vinyl, reusable, and SVG file stencils. 

Out of the three options, I’d personally recommend using vinyl stencils. Not only are they cost-effective, but they’re also incredibly easy to use. All you have to do is attach the design to the board with spray adhesive and then paint over it. It’s a method I’ve found consistently effective.

painting a wooden board

When you add paint, it’s not really necessary to use a brush. Foam might be an even better alternative to get the stencil effect you desire. Like the previous method, lightly dab the paint to transfer the design from paper to the board. 

Always ensure your wood signs are completely dry before removing the stencil paper. Once you do, you might observe some stencil marks on your design’s background. What I often do is touch up any missed spots with a toothpick dipped in paint. It’s a neat trick I’ve picked up over the years.

Vinyl Cutting Machine

One of the easiest ways to get designs on your wood signs is through the use of vinyl cutting machines like Silhouette or Cricuit. These sign-cutting methods using Silhouette or Circuit are quite similar to the stencil process. 

cutting vinyl with MantisTol MC-330

Silhouette or Circuit cuts patterns and letters out of adhesive vinyl sheets, which makes a more straightforward sign-making process. You can decorate wood frame signs on your own or the way you want it, or you can buy a pre-made layout online. 

Hand-lettering

This method is best for people who have excellent handwriting in doing wooden sign painting. Your unique penmanship and using the stylish font can add an artistic touch to your wooden sign  painting for your home. But before you go ahead and paint, you should draw/print the letters or font using a pencil or pen to serve as a guide and avoid mistakes. 

To get a precise and super easy result you want, you can use a paint pen instead of a paintbrush to add color to your penciled plan. If you’re tracing the print with a black sharpie, you can make your sign stand-out by adding some white paint on its edges. su

Build and Attach the Frame

The last step in our journey is framing your board. Based on my experience, a DIY signboard truly comes together and looks polished when it’s framed with stained wood. It’s the finishing touch that makes all the difference.

finishing a wooden sign

First, cut two or four small pieces of board with the same height as your sign and apply your chosen tint that really blends on your current layout. After drying it out, attach them to the sides of your rustic wood board by hammering finishing nails or by simply putting it together with glue.

Don’t forget to add a sawtooth picture hanger at the back of your DIY sign so that you can place it on the walls easily for decor.

Hang Your Sign

No matter where you’ll place your wooden signs, never hang them above the eye level as it can appear less noticeable[1]. If you intend to hang these signs at your home, I suggest putting them where they can be seen, like in the living room, dining room, door, or above the bed board. 

FAQ

What kind of wood do you use to make a sign?

The kind of wood you can use to make a sign are pine and plywood. These options can be quickly brought to your local craft stores. You can also use these plywood in different projects aside from wood sign-making. But no matter which wood you prefer, always go for thick boards to avoid difficulty in attaching frames.

How do you make a wood sign without a Cricut?

You can make a wood sign without a Cricut machine by stenciling your design onto the board and dabbing paint to transfer your design from paper to the lumber. Aside from that, you can also opt to hand-paint lettering and patterns on the board if you have excellent penmanship.

How much money can you make making wood signs?

The amount of money you can make with wood signs depends on how creative and diligent you are in creating these rustic painting wooden crafts. This rustic sign are not cheap but it is so worth the investment.  Some people who started their woodworking shop with complete equipment can make $10,000 a year by selling wood signs 

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Conclusion

Doing something for the first time is never easy, but if you follow these steps carefully and plan your design accurately, you can surely construct well-made DIY wood signs for your home or anywhere else. 

Now that you’re acquainted with the entire process, all you need to do is continuously practice and improve your craft. As mentioned, always consider the quality and brands of materials and tools to be used as these will be your foundation for a successful woodworking project.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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