DIY HELLO fence sign
Living in a state that only has true summer weather for about 3-4 months out of the year, we love to soak it up as much as possible.
Our favorite way is through outdoor living at home.
With two littles running around though (well, one running and one rolling) it's harder for us to spend long stretches of time out in the heat and sun.
We try not to let that stop us in preparing both our front porch, and our back yard for future summers spent out there.
I've almost got the front porch all decorated and set up just as I'd like, although it could still use a few small details.
While this project isn't necessarily "small" I still thought it'd be a fun one to make, and would help brighten up our front porch.
As usual, I've been busy thinking about the decorative touches, and Kyle has been busy doing all of the actual labor!
He's made huge progress on the most neglected side of our house, building and moving fencing, pulling out tons of tumbleweeds, and covering and rocking the area in preparation for future sheds (and maybe a chicken coop if I can do enough sweet talking!).
I managed to get my hands on a few of the torn out fence planks though, and they were just what I needed for this project.
This project all together took me about 2 hours of actual hands on time, spread out over two days (those littles really limit my crafting time, but they're worth it).
The supplies I used were:
2 1/2 recycled fence planks
A rotary saw - I use the Dewalt 18v circular saw
A power drill - I use the Dewalt 18v drill
8 screws (I used 1 1/4 in because it's what I had on hand, but I think 1 in would have been perfect.
A pencil for marking cut lines and design
A straight edge for cut lines
A fine grain sand paper like 220
Desired paint or stain - I used Americana Decor Chalky Finish in Everlasting, and the Creme Wax of the same brand (this was my first "chalk" paint experience and I have to say, without comparisons I was really pleased)
Paintbrushes - one for the main coat and a detail brush for the lettering, and rags for applying wax if using
The set up for this was super simple.
First I decided which two planks would be my main sign (Evelyn already has a good eye! I used the two she is sitting on).
Then I chose a third for cutting down for the cross pieces.
I measured the width of the two main pieces at the area I would be attaching the cross pieces (which was good because the widths were slightly different).
I decided to use my cross pieces to cover up the old screw holes from where the planks were attached to the fence frame.
Using the measurements for the two cross pieces, I marked a line to trim off the bottom, measured out my first cross piece, marked a 1/8 in space for the saw blade, and then marked my second piece.
Once my pieces are marked, I cut them out and lightly sanded the cut edges just to smooth them down (I end up sanding more thoroughly later when I distress).
Now we can assemble!
All I did was line up my two sign planks, making sure the bottoms were even.
Then I placed my cross piece where I wanted it to go, and used 4 screws to attach it.
In most of my wood projects I usually pre-drill my screw holes, but I didn't here. If this were a furniture or utility piece I would definitely want to avoid splitting the wood. But, this wood is already pretty worn and I didn't mind if it cracked a little since I wanted a more worn look.
Do this for both cross pieces, and your sign is built!
I quickly used my sandpaper to just clean up the bottom edges a little, and any other areas that I felt needed a little before painting.
Then I used the white paint to evenly paint one coat over the front and sides, making sure my final strokes in each area went with the grain.
This paint covered really well, especially for worn wood that hadn't previously been treated. It also dried rather quickly.
After my white coat was dried, I took up my sandpaper again and did a little distressing.
I made sure to sand down the edges, over any knots or quarks in the wood, and then a little bit over some of the smooth surfaces just to add a little. I sanded until wood was showing through at varying levels.
Play with this as little or as much as you want. Our planks had been outside about 4 years without much treatment to protect them, so they were already weathered. But if you'd like you could always add distress with hammers, chains, hammering metal objects into the surface like screws on their side, etc. to add a little character too.
Then I was ready to grab my pencil and draw out my letters.
Once upon a time, I would have been incredibly meticulous, printing out letters, measuring my spacing and centering, and transferring my design before painting and fixing all of my lines to near perfection.
That was before two kids and limited craft time.
But girl, if that's still you, then go for it!
I chose to quickly eyeball and hand draw it, in between quick little jaunts to see where my two year old had wandered off to, and make sure she wasn't trying to eat the rocks.
Like I said, limited craft time.
Now that my design was ready, I grabbed my detail brush and a can of contrasting paint (I actually used the touch up paint from our house trim to try to help bring it together a little) and started tracing.
The textured surface of the plank made it hard to achieve solid lines, so I just made one full trace, and then went back and carefully filled in where it was needed with more paint.
A word on lettering - I always have a tendency to want to go really slow to try to get straight, even lines. This always fails. The harder you concentrate, the more your hand shakes and the more time the brush has to move around on you. I'm not saying just swing that brush frivolously, but I am saying take in a breath and move in one fluid motion.
And remember, it doesn't have to be perfect!
When the lettering was on and dry, I was ready to seal it with wax.
This part was new to me, and intimidated me a little bit. But I actually found the process very enjoyable and somewhat relaxing.
I cut up an old, but clean T-shirt into 2 rags.
The first I dampened slightly and used it to wipe down the sign and remove all of the dust from the distressing.
Then I used the second rag to get a small amount of the wax and start applying it.
I found this very similar to staining with a rag, which is my preferred method.
It also seemed to help bring out the color of the wood underneath, contrasting it with the white a little more.
A little bit goes a long way, and you want to really work the wax into each area.
I went in circular motions. but then went with the grain at the end of each area.
Work your way over the entire sign, and when you're done the sign should be smooth with no "grip" to it from the wax. If you run your hands over it and find any areas that stick a little, go back with your rag, and work it in a little better.
And now you're done and ready to place and style your sign!
I had fun trying mine out in a few different spots on our porch.
There are a ton of different things you could do with this sign.
You could stain the sign and paint your letters, or the other way around.
You could paint or stain the wood a contrasting color underneath your top color to add a little more pop to your distressing.
And you can use a variety of other words like Welcome, a quote, or even your last name.
What is your favorite way to decorate your outdoor living spaces?
Let me know in the comments! Or, tag me in an Instagram post with @Peoniesandcream or #Peoniesandcream.
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