Wood Sign Square

Every couple of years we get a crazy hair in our family and decide that we’re going to do all homemade gifts. Originally it was because we were all broke and thought homemade gifts would be more affordable. I quickly realized that first year that homemade gifts are not necessarily less expensive and require a whole lot of extra time! However, I made these last year and pulled it off for only a couple dollars each.

You can make them any size, shape, color you want and with whatever quote or saying you want. It’s a super versatile idea and I’m going to show you the basics. So if you’re not a huge fan of what my entryway sign says or the shape or color, you can easily customize it.

Also, I didn’t fully realize how many steps were actually involved and I want to reassure you that more tutorials are in the making for the basic techniques. In the meantime, I will provide some helpful links.

The first thing you need is a plan. Figure out where you want to put the sign if it’s for yourself and decide on the dimensions you want. We’re going to be using 1×4 lumber, which is actually about .75×3.5 (I still can’t figure out why they don’t just cut them true to size). So the width of the sign is whatever you want to make it and the height will be the number of boards high that you want. You can make a short sign with one board or taller with two, three, four, or however many you want. My sign is 3 feet (36 inches) wide and 3 boards tall.

You also need something to attach the boards to. I used a very small piece of trim and cut three pieces at 10 inches long to screw the boards into. You could just as easily use leftover pieces of 1×4’s but the smaller trim helped the sign sit more flush with the wall.

You will need some kind of saw to cut the boards unless you have really nice Home Depot workers to do it for you. I didn’t have that but I did have a dark and handsome man living here in my house who took care of it for me 🙂

Then you need to know your color scheme and the style you’re going for. I love the farmhouse, vintage kind of look and so I used three colors. You can just as easily, or probably easier, use just one color or just wood stain. 

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Lastly, you need some words. I spent a long time coming up with the words I wanted in my entryway. I decided on this quote from LDS Church President Harold B. Lee because I thought it was a great reminder to me everyday that I walk in my house what is most important.

Ok, now that you have a plan, let’s get started!

What You Will Need

Materials

  • 1×4 lumber (cut to meet your dimensions)
  • small pieces of trim for backing
  • screws (1 inch)
  • sandpaper (100-150 grit)
  • stain, chalk paint or acrylic paint (background and text color)
  • finishing wax or some kind of finishing varnish
  • D Hooks (or whatever hanging hardware you can find)

Tools

  • saw to cut lumber
  • drill
  • 2 regular paint brushes
  • small paint brush for writing
  • printer and paper
  • chalk
  • pen

Steps

1. Cut and sand wood

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Simple as that. Once your boards are cut according to your dimensions, just sand the edges to get rid of any rough spots. If you’re going to stain your wood, do that before assembling. I usually stain my wood a darker color even if I’m going to paint over it. The dark color pops through the sanding in the finished product and makes it look older.

 2. Assemble

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Decide which side of each board you want to be the front and order them the way that looks best. Beware of eyes and rough spots and try to keep the middle of the sign as uniform as possible to make it easier to paint the words on. Then flip them over and screw the trim onto the backs of the boards with a screw in each board.

If the backing is very thin you will want to drill small holes before you screw into them so the wood doesn’t split. Since my sign was fairly wide, I used 3 pieces of backing.

3. Paint

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You can use chalk paint or acrylic paint for this step. Here is the recipe I use for homemade chalk paint.

I painted this first color (driftwood grey from Glidden) with a really crappy, old brush and did it very lightly so I could still see the stain coming through. You can wait for it to dry in between coats but I’m not usually patient enough and I don’t mind the look from doing one color on top of another.

A word about chalk paint and dry times. If you’re trying to get good coverage it is essential that you wait at least a couple of hours between coats. If you’re going for a rougher look like me, chalk paint dries to the touch within a few minutes so it’s ok to layer without waiting for it to completely dry in between.

I layered on a second color (blue jay from Glidden) and then a last coat of white (pebble white from Glidden) with the same technique. Then I roughed it up with 150 grit sandpaper.

5. Print Words

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I am so glad there are super smart people out there who figure out genius hacks and then post them all over the internet for me to easily locate and implement. I did not come up with this idea but saw it on several different blog posts.

You can create your words in Microsoft Word or any other word processor. That is the easiest, most straight forward way. I am quite attached to this font on Picmonkey so I designed my words on there and then opened it in a Word file to print it. Here is a post about designing in Picmonkey (which is free) and here is a post about printing large images in Microsoft Word.

Either way, you’ll need to create your words, size them appropriately, and print them out. You are likely going to use several pages. Just put the puzzle together with tape until you have your saying put back together. 

6. Transfer Words

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In order to transfer the words onto your wood, you take your chalk and scribble all over the back of your words.  

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Then you tape it onto your board. Next, you take a ballpoint pen and meticulously trace each letter.

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When you take it off, you’ll see the outline of the words! It’s like magic 

PaintLettersE1Now I’m going to be honest and tell you this next part is the most difficult but it’s totally doable and just requires some patience and tenacity. You don’t need to be artistic or crafty, just patient. You’re going to use a small paint brush to fill in the space inside your chalk words. Go slowly and smoothly, bending at your wrist, to follow the lines and fill in the space. You’ll probably need two coats so let it dry a couple of hours in between.

It certainly doesn’t have to be perfect and not all the letters will be exactly the same. Guess what, that’s what makes it homemade  

I roughed my letters up a little bit with sandpaper after they were dry.

7. Finish

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Since I used chalk paint I used a finishing wax and a yucky old chip brush to buff in the wax and create a nice finish. Chalk paint is super porous and so a wax does an excellent job at filling in the pores and creating a smooth, lasting finish. It will harden over time and keep your paint from chipping. 

It’s super easy to do, just remember to only use a tiny, tiny bit. I barely dip my brush in the wax until there’s a very small amount on the bristles and rub it in with circular motions. That’s it! You can also buff it to give it a shine but I always skip that step since I like a matte finish.

8. Hardware

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You can use whatever hardware you have on hand or can find at the store. I used a wire hanging kit and it worked great. I’m not going to lie, hanging things on walls is not my strong point. There may or may not be several holes behind this sign now 

HangingE1I love being able to make things for my house. It’s kind of a fun hobby and then I get to be proud when someone says, “Oh that’s cute! Where did you get it?”

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What saying are you going to use on your sign?

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