Saturday, February 23, 2013

DIY wooden sign

The finished family sign
Snowed in today, so I figured I would post something I made this past spring before I was married. I LOVE those custom vinyl decal family signs. I just don't love the price ($300 for a wooden sign.. you're kidding me, right?) At the time, we were saving for the wedding, so I decided to make my own.

1. I used a large piece of 1" thick wood sheet bought from Home Depot. I had them cut it to the size I wanted for the sign, and kept the rest for another project.
Untreated wood 

2. I stained the light colored wood with a dark brown stain on the front and back.
After stain: LOVE this look, and could be used for so many things. When I remodeled my husband's man cave, I used this same board staining process, and hung a huge chunk of wood like this onto the wall, then ran LED lights at the bottom, hidden by the TV. The different LED colors onto the dark hardwood give a very masculine look and really help to create ambiance in that small room.

3. Once the stain dried, although I loved the look of the wood, I needed it to be a bit darker. I had some grey paint kicking around from when we painted the bedroom, and decided to rub some of that into the wood to darken it up a bit. I'm not exactly sure what this did, or how it did it, but it helped to give the sign a distressed, darker look. 
4. While all of that was drying and curing, I hopped on the computer in Microsoft Word, and created my sign. I used many fonts from 1001 free fonts  (, to customize the look, and give some character to my sign. This was the funnest part by far. I recalled things my husband and I did on our first date, places of significance to us, our nicknames for each other, things we loved, our last name, and our wedding date. This part made step 7 worth it.
Finished computer file image

5. Once I was satisfied, I sent my husband out to Kinko's with my design on a flash drive, and the size I needed it.
6. He returned with a printing the size I needed for the sign, and I set to work taping up the sign for the most tedious thing known to man.
7. I ran large strips of overlapping painters tape along the entire board, then taped the print out on top of it. My theory here, was that I would use an exact-o knife, and cut out each letter of each word. I settled in for a LONG night of cutting, finger cramps, and "why am I doing this again??" I traced over each part of each letter, then removed the white paper and green painters tape to reveal the dark wood underneath.
8. After 2 days of cutting out the lettering, I was ready for paint. I painted over the entire green area with bright white paint, let that dry, and applied 2 more coats. This gave me the raised lettering look I was going for.
9. After being 100% certain the entire thing had dried, I very carefully peeled off the painters tape, careful not to peel any of the lettering away.
10. I then used a very fine sanding block, and sanded areas of the painting to give it more of a distressed look.
11. Finally, I bought a picture hanging bracket kit from Home Depot, that included the nails and brackets to hang my board. I installed that, and slapped that bad boy up on my living room wall. 

Although it was a very tedious project, the entire thing only cost about $10, considering I already had the stain, paint, sanders block, and tape.

And the end result:

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