Introduction: Yard Signpost
Being quarantined at home for the past few months has made me really notice and appreciate my yard. It's become a peaceful place for me to go to be away from the stress and anxiety of... not going anywhere else.
With so much time on my hands these days, I decided to make a fun signpost to add a little whimsy to my yard. It was surprisingly cheap and easy and I love the result.
Let me share the process I went through to make these so you can add some fancy to your yard, too!
- A printer to print out a sign design
- Scrap wood for signs
Mine is a piece of old plywood cut to size. I've also used old fence boards in the past.
- A graphite pencil to create the transfer
- Masking tape to attach the printout the wood
- A pen to transfer your design to the wood
- A small paintbrush to paint your sign
- Acrylic paint in the color(s) fitting your design
- A black magic marker or paint pen to outline your design
- Clear enamel spray to protect the sign
- A wooden post to attach your sign to
- Any kind of saw (powered or otherwise) to cut the wood to size
- A power drill
- Screws long enough to attach your sign to the post
- An appropriately-sized drill bit
Step 1: Design Your Sign
This is the most difficult part of the whole process - coming up with a design!
Unless you're a much better free-hand artist than I am, you'll want to plan out your design in advance. For me, the easiest way was to use a word-processor to create and lay out the text I wanted and print it out.
I used LibreOffice Writer, but Microsoft Word will work just as well (and may be a bit easier to use).
The right font is a critical part of making your sign look just the way you want, so spend time finding the right ones. You can find tons of free and fun fonts online at sites like 1001freefonts.com and dafont.com.
Layout your design until it's the way you like it. If you have a simple line of text, this will be pretty simple. If you have overlapping text, like I did in this design, make sure you use different colors or shades as this will be important later on.
Finally, make sure your design is sized correctly for your board and print it out!
Step 2: Create the Graphite Transfer
You'll need to transfer the design from your printout to your wooden board. The easiest way I know of is to use a pencil to create a graphite transfer.
This is really simple. On the reverse side of your printout, use the pencil to scribble over where the text is printed. Using regular copy paper and laying the printout face down on a white surface will allow you to see the text through the paper. Cover the text in a fairly dark layer of graphite from the pencil. The darker the layer, the better transfer you'll get.
Personally, this is my second-least favorite part of the process, but it ain't that bad.
Step 3: Transfer the Design
Now, you'll need to transfer your design from the printout to your sign board.
Double-check that your design will fit on the board, position it where you want it, and tape it in place.
Now, use the pen to trace the outline of your design. Use fairly firm pressure (don't use your best pen here!) to make sure the graphite transfers to the wood underneath. The texture of the wood will probably make it difficult to follow the printout exactly, but it doesn't have to be perfect. Just do your best. Make sure you don't miss anything, or it will make the next step difficult.
If you look carefully at my last picture, you'll see that the graphite from the back of the paper has been transferred to the wood, giving me an outline of the text.
This... is my least favorite step, but I suffer through.
Step 4: Paint Your Sign
This is where it gets good!
Pick a color and paint between the lines. Easy-peasy!
Take your time with this step. Find someplace comfortable, put on a podcast or your favorite music, and just get lost in the process. Whatever you do, don't stress over mistakes. You can cover some of them up in the next step, but, again, this doesn't have to be perfect.
Step 5: Outline Your Sign
Time to make this thing really pop!
Take your magic marker or paint pen and outline your painted design. You can skip this if you want, but I find it makes a huge difference in how the end result looks.
I used a black paint pen because I had it lying around, but that magic (or "permanent") marker you have in your junk drawer will work just as well.
Step 6: Protect Your Sign
Unless you want to do this same thing over again every year, give your sign a good coat of spray enamel to keep it from weathering and fading. I didn't do this my first time around and my signs faded quite a bit over just a couple of years.
Step 7: Signpost, Assemble!
Time to put it all together!
Find a nice home for your signpost, sink it into the ground (or cement it in place, if you want) and attach your sign.
I recommend pre-drilling your holes and then screwing, to avoid splitting your sign, but you may be braver than I am.
And that's it! The process is easy enough that I added a few more signs to my signpost to make a nice addition to my backyard. Here is a picture of the finished project as well as another signpost I made previously. I would love to see what you come up with!
Participated in the