Ready for my first DIY of the new year? Except I’ve actually had it up in my house for about a month… Shh! So I know there are 10001 wooden sign tutorials out there so instead of the step by step, I’m going to link you to a great basic tutorial but then give you some tips to help you rock it, get a clean (less farmhouse) look, and save some money in the process. Oh, and then give you my hand lettered design so you coffee lovers can make your own. Deal?
Let me start by saying this is my first wooden sign with a frame. I’ve framed pegboard and canvas with the same method but not with the mitred corners. I LOVE the look of mitred corners, but as you can see I didn’t totally nail the assembly of this one. Get it? Nail ;) I also rushed a bit through the painting (you can tell!) as I wanted to have it done before we had company over for the holidays SO in doing this I’ve learned a few things and have total confidence that my next sign will be 1000x better using these tips.
Okay, let’s get a basic tutorial out of the way. My friend Kim is a master at building these things, so I followed her tutorial but switched up the corners. You can find her tutorial (with major hand holding- ha!) right here.
Mitred Corners Done Right
So tip one is that mitred corners (over farmhouse corners, which are square) can give a cleaner, more modern than farmhouse look IF they’re done right. The ones I did aren’t. *sniff*.
Take the time to make sure your wood planks (if you’re using that instead of plywood) are perfectly lined up and evenly cut. having one out will make the gaps in your mitred corners really obvious (notice mine- that’s from one board that was slightly longer than the rest). You can also use corner clamps to hold everything in place while you’re nailing. I just bought these ones and they are magic. We’re using them on some drawers we made last weekend and man, they make such a difference.
Separate Boards Vs Plywood
I thought I really wanted to have several boards for a bit more of a rustic modern thang. I was wrong. I really wish I would have done a smooth quality plywood instead. I’m making some for a girls night next week and THAT is what we will be doing. I can’t wait!
If you do want the farmhouse look of separate boards, that’s totally cool- BUT keep in mind stencils only work so well on those gaps. You’ll need to take a small paint brush and carefully paint around those gaps to avoid bleeding. As I mentioned, I’d rushed it so I have some bleeding to deal with.
Paint Before Assembly
It is wicked hard to get in between those gaps and keep it looking all nice and tidy. And unless you take the time to tape off, it’s time consuming to paint the frame without getting the main sign. And when you tape, then you have to wait for it to fully dry before you can tape off and do the other part. Time consuming. So do yourself a favor and paint before assembly.
Chalk Paint Look Alike
Okay, so we all love the look of chalk paint (don’t we?) for this kind of signs. Matte and a bit vintage BUT that stuff is wicked expensive. When I was working with Para Paints last year, I picked up some flat finish interior paint and was SO impressed with the smooth, chalk like flat finish. It’s not chalky, but it’s flat and gives the same effect. And a quart goes a long, long way for a lot less. The colors I used are called Molten and Whitewash White.
Alright, so this is my faaaavourite way to paint signs. I’ve done it on other signs in the past but never wood planks with gaps like this. As I’d mentioned earlier… if you want to make it quick and easy- skip the planks and go with plywood. The stencil works great to get nice clean lines without it taking a ton of tedious time. BUT that’s only if it’s applied properly (use a scraper or credit card to get it smoothed down. I skipped this step (again… rush!) and regretted it. AND if you are really wanting that plank look, make sure you press the stencil in to the cracks- I didn’t obviously. The best way I have found to do this is to use the hinge or butterfly method of applying your stencil. My friend Alexis shows how to do this in her mug tutorial here. Use your scraper or credit card to smooth it into the cracks as you go.
So how do you make a vinyl stencil? I use my Cricut Explore Air– any cutting machine would work. You can add your own design into Design Space by following this process: New Project/ Upload Image/ Upload/ Select/ Simple Image/ Cut Only/ Insert. Then size it and hit GO!
Don’t have a cutting machine? NO PROBLEM.
Trace an Outline
Okay, so if you don’t have a Cricut or similar machine, you can still totally paint your own signs. You can either go freehand (that’s my usual method TBH) OR you can use transfer paper to trace over your design, transferring an outline to the surface. I go over that method and show it in action in this post here. Alternately, you could make do with an HB pencil and color firmly on the reverse of your printed template, then trace over with a ballpoint pen to transfer a design. This is a bit messier sometimes but works just the same.
Does your home run on coffee? You can grab my hand lettered design RIGHT HERE. Please keep in mind it’s for personal use only.
Now have at it!
I hope these tips will help you make a rad sign on the first try without wasting a bunch of time or money. I would love to see the signs you make and hear any other tips you might have in the comments!
LIKE IT? PIN IT!