from wood to wall – the making of a sign


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 receives a small commission by linking to and other sites at no cost to the readers.

Posted By at 12:09 AM
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  • Funky Junk Interiors at

    Oh my gosh… this is outstanding! And so so perfect in that spot! In that ROOM! I love that room… I love that SIGN! 🙂

    Pinned and FBed and whatevered!


  • Carrie Rosalind at

    I SO love this sign and I love how you put it together, but I don’t know if I’ll be making one anytime soon! Too much work! lol I’ll just admire yours…

  • Jen@Notes From the Heartland at And yes, I think I might try making a sign of my own too. 😉

  • Amber's Snippets of Design at

    I love it Michael…even more in your cute red and yellow room. What a fun, colorful, and inviting style you have. It turned out really great. I love to make signs and I will probably make one. I would like to make a sign with writing on it for my living room and even though it needs to be a different shape and style I will definitely use some of your techniques. Thank you!

  • Julie at

    Michael, I love it! You did such a great job, not sure if mine would turn out that great but I may just try. Thank you for the tute!

  • Holly C. at

    I LOVE it, Michael!

    • Emily at

      just curious as to what type of paint you used… did you use regular house paint? thanks. it looks great!

      • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

        Hi Emily! I just used acrylic craft paint. It’s the paint you get in the little bottle at any craft store – even Walmart!

        xo Michael

  • Ali Richardson at

    I have made a few signs in my day but NONE of them are as awesome as this one!!!! LOVE it!!!

  • Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants at

    I love it Michael! And thanks for giving such a detailed tutorial! I don’t know if you have ever tried graphite paper, better than carbon, comes in white or black, very easy and not nearly as messy, give it a try sometime.

  • Holly at

    SO, SO fabulous!

  • Jennifer at

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Shellie L at

    Love it!
    Everything you do blows me away.

  • Brenda Watts at

    great job, I LOVE it..the fork was very clever. Sometimes you can drop the wood on your gravel driveway etc, for some ‘antiquing’..step on it, move it over to another section, random dents of varying sizes.)) Love the cheeriness of the colors you used.

  • Tanya at

    This looks great! Could you provide more detail on the part about “shading” the letters? Nice job!

  • Diane Cayton-Hakey at

    I would never make this because I’m not handy with tools, also, I’m lazy. But I LOVE IT!!

  • debbie refresh restyle at

    You stuck a fork in it and it’s perfect! I love it so much!!! I need to make a sign!

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