DIY Wooden Sign Tutorial

DIY Wooden Sign Tutorial

What is one of the top decorating trends right now?

Wood signs.

And I can tell you, I sure love them.

They are so open to possibilities!

I have made a few for my house, and for gifts. 

I have used multiple signs for String Art, one for a wooden flag gift, and one is currently in the works for a large porch sign. 

To see Evelyn's Harry Potter Inspired Toddler Room that features this Doe string art, check it out here.

So how exactly do I go about building my signs? Well, let me tell you!

These signs are so fun and easy to make, you will be filling your house up with them in no time. 

Materials

  • Wood for the sign, I used 2 - 6ft 1X4 pieces (Instead of an 8ft because of ease of fitting in my Jeep) You can use whatever size you would like, depending on the desired effect
  • Wood for holding the sign together. I used a small 1x2 piece and cut.
  • 2 - #216 1/2in Screw Eyes
  • Picture Hanging Wire
  • Screws for piecing together. I used 8 - 1 1/4in screws. These actually cut it close on the depth, as I'll show below, so I would recommend slightly shorter screws. 
  • Pencil
  • Stain or paint for wood. I use Minwax Wood Finish in Red Oak 215 for the majority of our wood projects. It has such a rich color to it. 
  • Cloth for staining or paintbrush for painting. 

Tools

  • 5/64 Drill Bit
  • Phillips head screwdriver bit
  • Tape Measure
  • Saw for cutting down wood. If you don't have a saw, I believe most hardware stores will cut in the store for you, just have your desired dimensions ready. I use a Dewalt 18v circular saw for all of my wood projects, and highly recommend one if you plan on doing a lot of wood projects.
  • 90-degree straight edge for marking woodcuts. I use a 7in heavy duty magnum rafter square, and it makes marking straight lines super easy. 
  • 2 - Sawhorse or scrap wood for elevating wood while cutting. You can get creative here, just keep in mind you want whatever you place your wood on to be stable, and spaced close enough together that you can support the top of the wood so it doesn't collapse at the end of your cut. 
  • A trusty drill. Again, I use a Dewalt 18v drill that uses the same battery pack as my saw and is essential for multiple wood projects. 
  • Needle Nose Pliers might help for attaching the Screw Eyes
  • Hammer - To get the screw eyes started
  • Eye protection!!!

First things first, you need to figure out your desired dimensions. For my string art, I use 4 - 1x4 pieces at 19in long. This makes my width 14in (a 1x4 is really only 3.5in wide).

Once you know your lengths, you can mark and cut down your wood. I don't worry about being too exact about my lengths, as I leave my edges a little unmatched, which I will show below. 

Use a pencil and the 90-degree straight edge to mark your cut lines. Don't worry, the pencil won't show up in your final piece, and can always be erased if you don't push hard enough to indent the wood. 

Do keep in mind when marking multiple pieces from one length of wood, to leave room for your saw blade. As you cut through the wood, the width of your saw blade will cut out this little bit of wood. I mark a 1/16th space (1 space on my tape measure) to indicate my saw blade. 

I also mark an X on the end of my wood for the scrap piece that I don't need. This is especially helpful if you are cutting wood for multiple things, as I sometimes do to avoid having to set up multiple times. It can also be helpful for other projects if you are cutting different sized pieces to write the piece size or name lightly in pencil. 

Peonies & Cream - Wood Sign Scrap Wood

Don't forget you also need to cut down your wood for piecing everything together. I cut 2 - 12in pieces out of the 1x2 wood. This is long enough to make contact with all four pieces of our 1x4 when laid side by side, but short enough to not overhang the edges.

When you are cutting your wood, be careful! If you don't already wear glasses, wear some type of eye protection! You do not want small bits of wood in your eye, and those little pieces sure can fly. 

And of course, please be smart and safe! Don't rush yourself.

You will want to lay the piece of wood you are cutting across two sawhorses. I sometimes improvise with scrap wood that's tall enough to allow my blade to fit under my wood. Just make sure whatever you use is stable - it isn't going to fall over while you are cutting. And make sure they aren't 10 feet apart! You really only need a little bit more space than your saw, and you want to be able to place your non-dominant hand over one support, to hold your piece of wood steady and keep that wood in place once your cut is through. 

Once all your pieces are cut, you can start putting them together! Decide which side you would like to use for each piece, and lay them out how you would like them. 

Now we need to flip everything over to the back side. This way we can attach the pieces, and leave the sides you chose free for the design. 

Line up the edges to where you would like them when attached. I leave mine just a little bit uneven. This adds a little more interest, and if you didn't cut your pieces exactly even, it keeps it from being noticeable. 

Once your pieces are set, lay the 1x2's across them and space somewhat evenly. As this is the back, exact measurements aren't necessary. Just make sure there's enough room to fit a screw without being too close to any edges, for each piece of wood. You are going to pre-drill these screw holes to try to avoid splitting this backing wood. This is where you will need the drill and drill bit. 

Going slow, drill through the backing wood at a point over each of the four pieces of wood that make our sign. You do not need to go very deep, you are just starting the hole for your screw. You want to avoid going all the way through both pieces of wood. 

Also, try not to move any of the wood during this step and the next. If you have someone that can lend an extra set of hands, they would be useful here. 

Once all the holes are drilled, switch to the Phillips bit on the drill, and grab your 8 screws. Use those 8 screws to attach the backing wood to the sign wood. I do the outer pieces first on both sides, and try to squeeze all 4 pieces together while attaching to keep them flush. 

This is where one of my screws was just a little too long, and came through the front. Luckily, my stain is darker and will hide this well. 

Now your sign is built!

Time to paint or stain. Because the build of this sign brings it off the wall a little, I do stain the back of my pieces. This way, if someone is on the side of the sign, it all blends together. 

You can do the backside first, and don't need to wait for it to be absolutely dry to flip it and do the front. 

Once your sign is dry, you can attach the hanging pieces. 

Those extra hands can come in handy here as well. Just place one of your eye screws on the inside edge of your 1x2 at the end you would like up. I stand my sign up for this part. Lightly hammer the eye screw in so it is in there somewhat stable, and start turning to screw the rest of the way in. The needle nose pliers might come in handy here.

Repeat on the other 1x2 straight across. Make sure to do this on the inside edges, so the wood sits flushly on the wall.

Alternatively, if you are making your sign with your wood planks vertical, this means your back pieces are horizontal; one on top and one at the bottom. Simply put both eye screws on the top edge of the back piece, one near each end. This will still keep it flush on the wall.

This is how the wire should be attached for a vertical sign.

Once both screws are placed, just thread your picture wire through one eye, and twist over itself.

Now bring the wire across to the other eye, and cut a few inches further along. Thread that end through the second eye.

Before you wrap, make sure that the wire doesn't pass the edge of the wood when pulled tight. This will make for an invisible hang. Wrap the tail of that end around the wire, and you're done.

Now you have a sign to display all your creativity!

These are great for adding a bit of contrast to a photo wall, or for placing on a shelf, possibly to the back of some decor items or plants. 

What's your favorite way or place to display wood signs? Have you tried making your own? Let me know in the comments below! Or, tag me in an Instagram post with @Peoniesandcream or #Peoniesandcream.

 

 

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