How to Make a Rustic Wooden Sign
Rustic wooden signs have become very popular crafting items that are used to decorate or enhance your living room, kitchen, home, bedroom, nursery, and more. Instead of spending on average $30-$60 on signs from the store, I will show you an easy and inexpensive way to make a beautiful sign while having fun at the same time! One of the best things about making your own sign is that you are able to make it unique with your own quotes and ideas. Another great thing is that you can find a lot of scrap wood or pallet wood for free or very cheap. Overall, I hope that you like this short and easy tutorial on how to make a rustic wooden sign, and I hope that you enjoying making it as much as I did!
Step 1: Obtain Needed Materials
- Paint brushes
- Wood screws
- Sand paper
- Support wood
- Scrap wood (fence pickets or pallet wood)
- Fasteners or hooks
Step 2: Obtain Necessary Tools
- Small hammer
- Tape measure
- Hand saw
- Battery powered screwdriver with Philips head
- Electric hand sander (optional)
- Skill saw or other powered saw (optional)
Step 3: Select Wood You Would Like to Use for Your Sign
- Scrap wood or pallet wood can be found for free or cheap on local yard sale sights, online, next to dumpsters, or left over from old projects. Most people use pallet wood, but I found some old fencing that had the weathered look that I wanted.
- Although it is most ideal to choose wood with the same thickness, you may choose to have varying thickness. For ease of use and to insure the sign isn’t too heavy, I wouldn’t use wood that is thicker than 1 inch.
- When choosing the wood, try to find straight wood. It is much harder to make a sign that is bent or curved.
- The wood I used was ½” thick and 6” wide old fence pickets.
Step 4: Organize Wood to Your Desired Look
- This is your sign, so you can make it look like whatever you want. If you want different styles or different color for each plank, do it. Make it your own sign!
- Choosing wood with knots and character looks great on a rustic sign. Please note that you want a weathered look that has character, but do not use junk wood.
- Once you have your wood where and how you want it, you are ready to move onto the next step.
Step 5: Draw Lines
5.a – Insure that the wood is straight and that there are no large gaps between the pieces.
5.c – Using your tape measure, choose your dimensions and make a mark with your pencil at the top and the bottom of the sign.
5.b – With a straight edge and a pencil, line up the straight edge with the two marks that you drew and draw a straight line across all of your wood pieces.
Note: Dimensions will vary. Dimensions of your sign will depend on the width of each piece, how many pieces you use, and the maximum length of each piece.
- My dimensions were 20” x 21.5”
Step 6: Cut Wood
6.a – Lay your piece of wood across a firm foundation such as a table, counter, or saw horse.
6.b – Firmly grasp your wood with your hand so that it doesn’t move, and let the part of the wood with the marked line hang over the edge so that your saw has enough space to not cut your table or hand.
6.c - Take your hand saw and begin cutting with a slow and steady back and forth motion. Continue sawing until you have cut all the way through the wood.
- Do not cut on your line, but cut on the outside of the line so that your lengths remain consistent.
- When your saw is about to cut through the wood, slow down so that you do not slip and cut yourself.
- Caution: A saw that is dull is very dangerous, and you are much more likely to slip and cut yourself. Insure that the saw is sharp and you are comfortable using it.
Although a basic hand saw is all that is needed, you may use a skill saw or any other powered saw. Insure that the saw is sharp and you are comfortable using it.
Warning: If you do not have experience or haven’t been trained on proper techniques and safety of using a powered saw, DO NOT USE!!! These saws are very dangerous because of the high speed and sharp blade. It would be better to go slow with a simple hand saw than to use a powered saw and lose your finger, hand, or life!
Step 7: Cut Supports
- Thin wooden supports are used to connect the wood pieces to form the sign and to make sure that it is strong and sturdy. I also suggest the thin wood because it doesn’t stick out so much when the sign is on the wall.
- The wood support wood I chose is ¼” x 4” x 36”, and I found this at a local hardware store for cheap.
7.a – Using your tape measure, draw a line at 18”, which is the midpoint of the wooden support.
7.b – Cut the piece in half using the same instructions from the previous step
Step 8: Fasten Wood Together
8.a – Lay the two wooden supports across all of the wood pieces (as shown in the picture).
Note: This must be done on the back of the sign, so you may need to flip your wood over so that you do not ruin the front or good part of your sign.
8.b – Make a mark 1” from the top and 1” from each side, and line up both pieces of wood on their respective marks. See picture.
8c – With the screwdriver and screws, fasten the screws and connect the wooden planks to the support wood. See picture for more details
Any hardware store will have screws. I used #6 ¾” Philips screws that are meant for wood.
Caution: Insure that the length of the screw does not exceed the width of your sign wood plus your support wood or else the screw will stick out of the front of your sign.
Note: I suggest putting 2-3 screws on each plank for more support. Avoid screwing into the cracks and gaps.
Step 9: Sand Wooden Sign
9.a – Sand the sign to desired look with sand paper or electric sander.
- If you want the weathered look, do not sand it too much. Sand it just enough so that the roughness and sharp edges are gone so that you can paint easier. I used 150 grit sand paper.
- Although sand paper will work an electric sander is suggested and will do the job much faster.
Step 10: Hammer on Sign Fasteners
10.a – At the top of each wooden support as shown in the picture, hammer on the sign fasteners using the hammer.
- These fasteners or hook are used to hang up the sign, so make sure that they are straight and the same height.
Note: You would be able to find these fasteners at most craft and hardware stores. Also note that the nails are very small, so be careful not to hit your thumb with the hammer!
Step 11: Paint Sign
There are no specific directions for painting other than choose your own colors, style, and quote, be creative, and have fun.
- I have found that acrylic paint works great and is very inexpensive. Type of paint can also vary upon style and preference.
- Brushes work great to paint, but do not limit yourself. You can also use sponges, rags, and more.
- Although this sign was painted freehand, feel free to use stencils or print the words off and trace them.
Step 12: Finish!
I hope that you enjoy making this wooden sign as much as I did. If you have any questions feel free to respond. Have fun, be safe, and be creative!