DIY HAND LETTERED SIGN

These signs are so fun to have at home, at a summer house or to give as a gift. For around $20 you can make a custom sign that will add character and personalize your home.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR THIS PROJECT

ONE SHEET OF PLYWOOD ½” CUT TO SIZE

PINE BOARDS FOR YOUR BORDER (I CUT MINE TO 2” x 36”)

WHITE PAINT (ANY KIND)

BLACK PAINT (ANY KIND)

A STENCIL (WE’LL COVER THIS) OR A PROJECTOR

SCISSORS, OR BOX CUTTER OR X-ACTO KNIFE TO CUT YOUR OWN STENCIL

SANDER OR SANDPAPER

POLYCRYLIC (1 QUART OR SPRAY)

STENCIL BRUSH (FOR BEST RESULTS)

PAINTER’S TAPE (IF YOU WANT TO ADD A BORDER)

STAIN (I USE MINWAX SPECIAL WALNUT WOOD FINISH)

OUTDOOR CONSTRUCTION SCREWS OR SAWTOOTH HANGERS

First you want to decide the size of your sign. I chose 29”x36” for my outdoor sign on the house. For the cabin I made a 4’x3’. Cut the plywood to size.

Paint it white. Reapply if needed to desired color. While that dries you can prep your stencil. There are a few ways to tackle this. You can:

  • Print it on your home printer and cut out the inside of your letters with your scissors. I’ve found that the scissors are the easiest to cut the curves by hand. Or use a utility knife or X-acto knife for this step. Make sure you save the “innards” of each letter like a capital A. Cardstock is great but it can work on standard printer paper if that’s what you have on-hand
  • Use a projector to display the image on your plywood and free-hand the image onto your board
  • Use a Cricut to make the stencil – I don’t have one so I do hand cut the letters with scissors or use the projector
  • Free-hand the whole thing!
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On my Lundeen outdoor sign at the house I used font Yi Baiti Size 450 for Lundeen, est. 2006 is Century Size 250, the big “L” is also Century in about size 1200 but I can’t even print that big so you can freehand it, use an overhead or live wild and freehand it – which is what I did. 

For the cabin I used our projector. I outlined my phrase with pencil and handpainted the letters. For the Lundeen sign I cut the stencil and used the stencil brush to “stamp” each letter onto my sign.

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These stencil brushes are my favorite! They can be hard to find in stock, so if you don’t have one you can use another type of stencil brush. The biggest thing is to really go light on the paint with your stencil.  If you don’t have a stencil brush you can outline your letters with a pencil or marker through your stencil and then hand paint your stenciled letters.

This is the part Ryan calls the Woodpecker. Quickly stamp the brush into your stencil making sure to press down your stencil around each letter. Remember: less paint is better for this part.

After your letters are painted you can add a quick crisp line to border your sign. Place painters tape around the edges and leave a space of about ¼” and add another strip of tape to form the border. Paint the line, remove the painter’s tape.

I sand the edges to give it a little weathering before adding my wood border. You can use an orbit sander or use 120 grit by hand.

For my cabin sign I cut the pine boards I had down to 2” width and length of 36”. Use a nail gun or nail in the boards to the sides of your sign. I nail the bottom or the sign flush with the border wood so I have a overhang on the border around the sign.

Stain your wood – I use Minwax Special Walnut Wood Finish

Apply quick coats of Polycrylic to your sign. The Polycrylic spray would work great to not smear any of your lettering, but I had the quart of brush-on Poly so I used it and made sure to not brush back over the letters after the initial coat of Poly. You only have to be careful not to smear the letters on your first coat of Poly. Coat the sign with 4-5 coats of Poly to ensure it lasts for years outside. Coat the back of your sign, too with the coats of Poly!

Decide how you want to mount the sign to your house or structure. We screwed right into the cabin with this, but you may want to use a nail and sawtooth hangers. If you have a warranty please check before screwing or hanging this to ensure you’re not voiding any warranties. We don’t have one so we do what works best for us.

Hang or display and enjoy your beautiful, custom sign on a dime. If you try this please tag me on Instagram – I’d love to see your beautiful new sign!

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