Wooden sign tutorial

This project took me forever to finish, not because it was difficult but because I wasn’t sure how I wanted to hang it up. But I finally figured out a pretty good solution, which took me all of five minutes to execute, so I can finally share the full process. Yay!

Remember how I wanted to add another piece of art to my kitchen command center? I wanted to make a sign with a word on it to go above our family photos. I chose the word “blessings” because it describes the pictures below it perfectly, and after reading One Thousand Gifts the word has even more significance. It will be a constant reminder of how much God loves me, and how I want to bless everyone who lives in or visits our home.

To make the sign I used this method (found on Pinterest of course). Naturally I tweaked it a bit, so I will share my process with you.

You’ll need:
– an unfinished board (I bought a stair tread at Home Depot and had them cut it the length I wanted)
– paint for the background of your board (just regular acrylic craft paint works best)
– a black paint marker
-black craft paint
-an inkjet printer and paper
-a word processing program (I used Microsoft Word)
-sandpaper (to get that oh so important “distressed finish”)

1. Sand and paint the board

I didn’t sand the whole board since it was unfinished, I just smoothed down the edges so I didn’t end up with splinters as I painted. I mixed white, blue, and gray craft paint that I had on hand to get the color I wanted. I only did one coat, since I knew I was going to sand it down anyway, but if you don’t want much wood grain to show through or there are a lot of imperfections in the wood you might want to do two coats.

2. Print your word. Backwards.
Typing up the word and choosing a font I liked was fairly easy. Figuring out how to flip the word so that it printed as a mirror image was a bit tougher. With my hubby’s help I managed it. I’ll tell you the steps for doing it in Word (I have Office 2010) but if you’re using another program you’re on your own. πŸ™‚

To make a mirror image of a word using Microsoft Word:
(1. Insert a word art text box
(2. Type up your word as word art and change the font/color (I used black, not sure how another color would work) until it’s what you’re looking for
(3. In the format word art tab click the text effect drop down menu and select 3D rotation, then 3D rotation options
(4. Change the x box to 180 degrees

That should do it for you! It’s rather involved, I know, but easy once you figure it out. Just make sure the borders of your word art box are big enough or else your word won’t print. Found that out the hard way.

3. Tape your printed word face down onto the (now dry) board.
My word was of course too big to fit on one sheet of paper, so I printed it on three sheets then cut and taped them together. I used a ruler to check my spacing and make sure it was all even and centered. I’m anal like that. πŸ™‚

4. Paint over each letter with water.

I used a paintbrush and a bowl of water. Don’t get the paper too wet, just wet enough to get the ink to start to release onto the wood.

5. Burnish each letter with a blunt tool, like the end of a sharpie marker.

I made the mistake of wetting all my letters down before I started rubbing over them, and the letters I did first were already starting to dry! I recommend wetting each letter and burnishing (rubbing over it firmly in all directions) before moving on to the next letter.
Don’t be tempted to lift up the paper before you’re done to check your progress…you might move the letters and end up with a blurry outline.

6. Uncover the word and outline each letter with a paint marker, then fill in the center of the letters with paint.

Β When you lift up the paper you should have a very faint transfer of the word on the board. You will probably want to darken it a bit. The original tutorial said to go over the letters with watered down black paint, but when I tried that the paint was too watery and started bleeding into the wood grain around the edges, not what I was going for! I decided instead to outline each letter with my handy paint marker, then fill in the middle with black paint.

When you finish the sign should look something like this. I didn’t want it to be quite so crisp, so I sanded it down with my handy sandpaper.

7. Attach a piece of twine to the back to hang it with.

Instead of trying to put two picture hangers on the back, and then having to line it up with hooks on the wall and level it, I decided to hang it the same way I hung the chalkboard note board. Measured 8 inches in on each side, marked it, tied a knot in each end of the twine, and put two staples in the board just above the knot. If you don’t already have a staple gun, I highly recommend the investment! πŸ™‚

That’s it! I love the rustic feel, and the technique is really pretty easy. However, if you think it sounds too complicated to flip your image or don’t have an inkjet printer, I’m planning on making a couple more boards using a different lettering technique…stay tuned! πŸ™‚

6 thoughts on “Wooden sign tutorial

  1. It looks like my font was size 400, but it will depend on which font you use (I used Footlight MT light). Thanks for asking! I'd love to see the finished project!


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