Hey Friends! 🙂 I love the look of painted signs using stencils! The problem is that I can’t find letter stencils that are big enough to make the size of letters I want to make. My only option is to by custom stencils (which can be costly) or buy a cutting machine and make my own stencils (even more costly). This is an alternative that takes a little more time, but saves a lot of money!
All this really boils down to is creating and printing out letters, tracing them onto a wood board, and painting them in. It does take a little more time than using stencils, but it not hard to do at all. As long as you can paint in between the lines, you can do this!
I am sharing the document I made to trace out this sign as a free printable – just click the link below to download it. It is in PDF format so everyone can download and use it. The font is Baskerville Old Face in 700pt. If you want to make this exact sign, you can just download and use it to save having to make it yourself in your word processer. If you want it in a different size or want a different word, just follow the directions below on how to make you own letters to trace.
Want the letters to make a “Farmhouse” sign like the one below? Then check out my post Free Printable Letters To Make A Farmhouse Sign!
Now, on to the directions to create your own letters! First thing you need to do is get on your computer and open up your word processing software. I use Microsoft Word 2010, but you can use whichever one you have available to you.
This next part is optional, but if you want to save on your printer ink, I recommend it. What you want to do is make an outline of the letters because that is what you’re going to do – trace the outline the letters onto the sign. The letters can get quite large depending on how big you want them (mine are 700pt), and if you print them out as solid letters, you are using a lot of ink that you don’t need to in order to do this project.
The following directions on how to adjust the font to outline only is for Microsoft Word 2010.
Open a new document in Word. On the home tab, select the little down arrow on the right side of the font color icon as shown below, and then select the white square for white colored font. If you now try to type anything onto the document, you will not see it, because the font is now white.
Now you want to outline the font so you can see it again! Select the little down arrow on the right side of the font outline icon as shown below, then select “Outline”, then select the color of the outline (I used black). In the same window, select the size that you want the outline to be. I used 3pt, but you can make it whatever size you like.
Now that you have your outlined font set up, you can create your letters. I used Baskerville Old Face font in 700pt for the sign in this project. You want to make the letters to fit on the size of wood board you’re using (we’ll talk more about that later). 700pt font is big – one letter takes up one sheet of letter sized paper. The sign I am making for this project says “Sleepytime.” I wanted a farmhouse style sign for our master bedroom, but I wanted it to be something I’ve never seen before. I came up with “Sleepytime” because it is the name of one of my favorite bedtime teas. 🙂
Once you make all the letters you need, print them out! (See the instructions below about sizing the font to the wood board before you do though.) Save the document if you think you will want to make another sign. You can reuse the letters you printed out as well.
The wood board I used to make the sign is 1″ x 10″ x 6′.
Now I know that I’m not going to make some people happy here, but fitting your letters to the size board you are using (or vice versa) is not an exact science. The questions you will want to ask yourself is how big do you want the sign to be, then how big you want the letters on that sign to be. Once you get that all figured out, measure out each letter using the ruler in your word processing software, figure out how much space you want between each letter, and add it all up to get a decent estimate if it’s going to fit the height and length board you’ve chosen for your sign before you print anything out. Sometimes, you may want a sign that is 6′ long, but the word(s) you want to put on the sign in the font size you want to use won’t fit. You will have to either make the font smaller or get a longer board.
Once I get to the point that I am reasonably satisfied that the font size I chose is going to fit the board I chose, I print them all out and roughly arrange them on the board to see if I’m right.
Once I get the font situation all figured out, I start working on the board. I like my signs to hang flush on the wall, so I have my hubby drill a keyhole hole that the hanging screws fit over. You will need a keyhole drill bit and guide in order to do this. You can use whatever hanging hardware you like best; I’m just sharing how I like to do it as a possible option. If you do use keyholes in your sign, make sure to do them before you start painting… I forgot to have my hubby drill the keyholes until I had the stain and one coat of paint on it, and when he gave it back to me, the paint was pretty dinged and scratched up from the process! Fortunately I intended to do two coats of paint on my sign, so the second coat covered all that up.
Now it’s time to stain the wood. I used Varathane wood stain in Ebony (where to buy). I did two coats, painting each coat on using a brush, allowing it to set for a few minutes, then wiping off the excess with a clean lint-free cloth. I allowed it to dry thoroughly between coats. The wood stain has a strong smell to it so you will want to do this outside or in an open area like a shop, which is where I did it.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience to help you find the paint and supplies I used to make this project. I make a small commission if you order through my links, but it doesn’t cost you anything more! If you do, thank you! 🙂
Once the stain was thoroughly dry, I put on two coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly. The paint I used Is FolkArt Home Decor chalk paint in White Adironack (where to buy).
Now comes the fun part – the stenciling! Since this doesn’t use a lot of paint at once and I wanted to be warm and comfortable while working on it, I brought the sign into the house so I could work sitting at our breakfast table.
In order to trace the letters onto the sign, you will need graphite paper. The graphite paper I used is Royal Brush Gray Graphite Paper (where to buy). It comes in white color as well for tracing on darker colored surfaces. I also got the Royal Brush Embossing and Styling Set (where to buy) to trace the stencils.
Lay the letters out on the board and measure in between them in order to arrange them how you want to fit. Mark the paper on the top and bottom of the sign for all the letters so they will be straight. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect; I always get a letter or two a bit crooked, but trust me – no one else will notice! 🙂
Once you got the letters laid out and measured up, start tracing!
Once you got all the letters stenciled on, you can start painting them in. I used FolkArt Home Decor Chalk Paint in Rich Black (where to buy). I just used an art paint brush to paint on the letters. Again, don’t worry about being perfect – you can always touch it up with more white paint, and once you distress the sign, you won’t see any minor mistakes anymore anyway.
Now it’s time to distress the sign. You’ll want to take the sign outside because as you can see below, sanding the sign makes quite a mess! I used 150 grit sandpaper and sanded the face and edges of the sign. Once you’re done sanding, wipe everything off with a clean cloth, then go over it again gently with a clean damp cloth. Allow it to dry a bit before you put on the wax.
You’re now ready for the finishing touches! I used FolkArt Home Decor waxes in Antiquing (where to buy) and Clear (where to buy). Using the Antiquing wax is optional; I like how it makes the paint look older.
Working in sections, apply the Antiqing wax with a wax brush, allow to sit for a minute, and wipe off the excess with a clean, damp, lint-free cloth. Let it dry for a couple of hours and then apply the Clear wax, working in sections and allowing it to sit for a few minutes before wiping the excess of with a clean, dry, lint-free cloth. Allow your sign to dry thoroughly before hanging it up.
Once you’re all finished, hang up your new sign and enjoy! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I hope you make a mess of these signs for yourself! 🙂 If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section below!
Happy sign making! 🙂