from wood to wall – the making of a sign

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well, the sign is finished and on the wall. it feels good. and to be honest, i absolutely love it. having a one-of-a-kind piece is pretty awesome to me. 

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so as promised, below is a detailed tutorial on how everything came together. just a warning, this post is going to be a little long. there are a lot, i mean A LOT, of photos. so, i’m going to try and be as brief as possible with my wording. ready?

i started off with two 1x12x8s from the local hardware store. they were about $13 each.

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other than some knots they were in pretty good shape. i wanted my wood a little weathered, so i got out some ‘tools of destruction’.

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i pounded heavily with both sides of the hammer. sawed the edges. beat it with some chain. i sanded down most of the sharp corners.  (i ended up not really using the screw driver. ) it’s hard to tell in the photos below but you’ll see more of the ‘beaten look’ after the next step.

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on pinterest i discovered you could age wood with steel wool and vinegar. after doing some research (it seems there are several ways to do this process) here what i came up with.

in two pans (don’t use good tupperware. oops!) i placed a piece of steel wool. to one added apple cider vinegar, the other balsamic vinegar. no specific amounts here.

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 i waited about 30 minutes.  then, with rubber gloves, i used the soaked wool to scrub the wood. the picture on the right is the after.

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 i then did the same with the balsamic and steel wool.

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this is how the wood looked after about 15 – 20 minutes. 

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you can see more of the grain and the markings i made with my tools of destruction are much more obvious.

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here’s the wood completely dry. i was really pleased with the results. i will be doing this again for sure.

i’m assuming that you could take it even further if you let the steel wool soak longer. or do more applications.

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the wood even took on a speckled look. a friend on facebook, after seeing these pictures, thought it actually was old wood.

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then i joined together both pieces of wood, on the back, with joining strips. four of them. 

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following that, i penciled on my design. i used a plate for the circle of the sun. the rays were just randomly placed. no measurements. i don’t do well with instructions and measurement when it comes to painting. and yes, i’m using a quilting ruler. 

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i decided to paint my red outlines first. though, looking back, it may have been easier to put these in last. 

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a sun! things are finally taking shape.

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i then applied some blue painters tape to preserve the red lines. i had to paint over the red that the tape didn’t cover so that it wouldn’t show throw my other paint. this is when i realized it may have been better to paint the red last. oh well, lesson learned.

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 i then picked a random collection of blues and yellows to fill in the rays of the sun.

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i intentionally wasn’t perfect when i was painting, leaving some of my weather wood showing through.

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i purposely avoided the nicks and dents i made earlier. i used cheap foam brushes to apply my paint.

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another thing i hate about painting is cleaning up. when i was done, the brushes went in the trash. 

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once everything was dry, who am i kidding… i have no patience, before everything was dry, i removed the tape to expose my beautiful red lines. perfect!

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next i gave everything i quick sand and then applied a white wash. just a mix of water and white paint. i worked quickly and wiped the paint with an old towel as i went. this gave me a sun faded look.

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i felt needed a few more distressed elements on the piece so i used a fork to create some worm/bug holes.

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i then went over the whole piece with a dark wash, just like the white wash. for this i used burnt umber paint and water.

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this darker color settled into all the distressed marks giving me a really aged and weathered look.

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done! well, the background anyway. next, i needed to add the text.

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i used a word processing program on my computer (iStudio) to pick fonts i liked. i then printed out a couple test pieces to get the size of the front right. the main font is haettenschweller and the script font is zapfino.

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 once i had everything printed out, i cut and taped the pieces of paper together.

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i then shaded in the back of the paper with the printed text. i used a pencil to color everything in.  personally, this works best for me. i’ve tried chalk (rubs off to easy) and carbon paper (turns your paint blue). this is time consuming and a pain-in-the-you-know-what, but it works.

once the back is shaded in, i flipped the paper over and positioned it onto the sign. i then trace the letters. this tracing transfers the shading you just did to the sign creating an outline for you to paint. make sense?

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 then i painted! i do mix in a couple drops of water to my white paint for an easy and smooth application.

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yes, i’m a lefty. any other lefties out there?!

i bought these paint brushes at wal-mart and have found a couple that work well for me. these i do wash and keep.

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i gave all the letters two coats of paint with a very light sanding in between. then, i erased any visible pencil lines.

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and that’s it! complete! ain’t she purdy?

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i choose to not put any sort of top coat on the piece as it will be indoors.

to hang it, i drilled two small holes into the back of the wood. then i put two screws into the wall. i put the holes on the screws and the sign was securely hung! or so i hope.

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like i said, i love unique, one-of-a-kind pieces and if this isn’t one of them, then i don’t know what is. the whole thing cost me under $35. i basically had to buy the wood, steel wool, joining strips and a couple brushes.

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and the style, colors and sentiment are a perfect fit for the space.

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and even though my head is way to big for this hat, i’m pretty darn pleased with my work.

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i hope this little tutorial was helpful. let me know if you have questions.

do you think you’ll be making a sign of your own?

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***I’m sorry, but do to a ridiculous amount of spam, I had to to off comments to this post. If you have a question or would like to comment, please email me. Thank you!


I’m linking this post up to this awesomeness:

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I would be so honored and excited to be a Home Show Designers! 

Thanks to The Painted Home and the Philadelphia Home Show

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links as part of the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs and other affiliate services. This means that inspiredbycharm.com receives a small commission by linking to Amazon.com and other sites at no cost to the readers.

Posted By at 12:09 AM
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Comments

  • Jennifer at

    Love this sign! What kind of paint do you use for painting and for lettering? I’m trying to start making signs for my own personal use and am trying to fugue it all out! Thanks!

  • Marie@The Interior Frugalista at

    Hi Michael, love this sign and the message! Saw it featured at The Cottage Market this morning. Following on all your social media as of today!

  • Kayla at

    This is exactly what I was looking for! Thanks! You’re amazing!

  • Diana at

    I love the sign, was wanting to make one do you know what size lettering you used

  • Paulette at

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for sharing you tutorial for the adorable, fun, happy sign! It’s definitely inspiring me to get moving on some signage I’ve been planning for my home.
    I hope you don’t mind my asking, but what is that gorgeous yellow colour you have on your wall? I just love it!

    Keep up the great ideas!
    Hope to hear soon!

    -Paulette-

  • seo vps at

    Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your blog?
    My blog site is in the very same area of interest
    as yours and my visitors would really benefit from a lot
    of the information you provide here. Please let me know
    if this okay with you. Cheers!

  • amy at

    This was terrific. Great details. I needed the info on how to get the lettering done. This is perfect. Thanks for sharing.

  • Crystelle at

    this is THE best! Thanks so much for giving us this awesome detailed tutorial! The sign turned out fabulous, as did the while room….!!!!

  • Amber at

    Awesome! I LOVE that you didn’t use a Silhouette or anything else to make this “easy.” Though doing something by hand can be tedious, the end result speaks volumes! Great job. 🙂

  • Elizabeth at

    I must make a version of this for my girls room! Thank you!!

  • Katie at

    this sign is gorgeous! thank you for sharing your techniques!!!

  • Anonymous at

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I absolutely LOVE it. And I am soo making this:)

  • Anonymous at

    This is great. I paint pieces of wood and old canvases – usually things found in other peoples garages. Then hang or lean them into place…sometimes I use picture hooks, sometimes I take hooks off old frames and use those, I’ve even nailed through the whole thing. Love your art…combining both words and picture is great!!!
    Thanks for sharing – Mary

  • Erin at

    I absolutely love this piece. It’s very beautiful!

  • lindy at

    Excellent Job! I am a lefty too…well, both hands actually. I love the sign and am working on mine as I re-read how you did yours!

  • Anonymous at

    “srpprcrftr said…

    We used to make smaller country signs in MT and KY. Sold alot in MT but KY havestrange habit. If they want something they want it for nothing and insult it and seller first.

    In KY every craft show I went to people wanted everything for nothing after they insulted the piece and me. Must have been some kind of KY thing.”

    March 26, 2012 7:42 PM

    Wow…was that really necessary? Kind of condescending.

  • Katie DeKoster at

    Hi Michael – This sign is hugely inspiring. Would you be willing to share the type of paint you used? Acrylic? Latex? Oil? THANK YOU!!

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