Introduction: Custom Painted Wood Sign With a Laser

About: Hi, we're Dara and Nash. Industrial designers, tinkers, and mayhem builders. Follow our travels.

           This year, our group is doing a holiday arts and craft show in downtown Raleigh. I decided that I would create a custom wooden sign for my wife, however, I'm more of a paint by numbers kinda guy than a modern day Monet. Thankfully, I work at Techshop so I was able to create a custom sign for her in a few hours from scratch with limited ability. Just follow these directions and you can do it too. Perfect for your next big occasion where you need to stretch your artistic talent.

You will need:
a sheet of 1/4" or 1/8" plywood (I prefer birch as it seems to do best) cut to your laser bed size
paint (2 colors)
paint brush
contact paper
access to a laser

Step 1: Laser Your Wood

       Alright, set-up your file in Corelle Draw. Throw some contact paper on your wood, and spend an hour lasering away. If you use birch like I do, it should come out like this. The important part in this is the contact paper, I buy mine at Staples where it's super cheap, but anywhere that says clear contact paper works (Wal-mart, Target, Lowes, any big box retailer).

Step 2: Weed the Contact Paper

        Grab an exacto knife and weed out the letters. A lot of people forget this step, but the inside of letters will be left when you are done. Think: a, b, d, and o's for some reason in particular are bad for this.

Step 3: Paint Your First Color

                  Select a light color (makes any accidental spills easier to hide) and paint away til all the parts you lasered have been covered.

Step 4: Peel Away the Contact Paper

           Let dry until tacky (normally 30 minutes-2 hours). Give the paint enough time to set, but no so long that you will tear it when you peel away the paper. A couple hours is fine, overnight is too long. Grab an edge of the contact paper and peel away.

Step 5: Paint the Second Color

                Mix your dark second color and start painting. You can add in a little more water for the big sections to make sure it goes on smooth with no streaks and gradually add less water as you continue. I used a large brush for the large sections and then reduced the size as I continued. Voila, you have a custom sign for your next big event. Best of luck on your holiday season.