The Junk Parlor

Making A Sign

Making a sign for a spot in your home is so easy I’m surprised we don’t make personalized signs more often!

How often do you take the time to be creative and make something for a gift or yourself?  Since we have moved I feel like I have spent less time making things and being creative.  My priorities have been more about getting organized and figuring out what my new normal looks like.

But I do enjoy creating!

This month in my #makersDIYchallenge Instagram group we were tasked with making a sign.  I had quite a few ideas rolling around in my head, but I ultimately chose to make a coffee sign on an old scrap of baseboard.

If you’ve been with me for awhile then you know that I do not like to spend money when it comes to DIY projects.  I want to use up things I have, not buy more things.

Picking a Board

However, I realize most people aren’t going to have random scrap boards available to make a sign.  What do I suggest?  Hit up the thrift stores!  

A lot of thrift shops have big piles of old signs that people no longer want.  Don’t look at the colors, fonts or messages on the board.  Instead, look at the overall size and shape of the board.  When you find the right size, buy it!  

It’s definitely worth the $5 to repurpose the wood that the original sign was on.

What is another option?  Look around the house at the signs you already have.  Do you have some in storage you aren’t using?  Do you have some seasonal signs that you could flip over and use the back of?

This is an even better option because it’s $0 and you are giving the piece new life!

Watch Me Make This Coffee Sign

Selecting a Word or Message

If you are wanting to make a sign, then this might have already been decided.  Normally we want to put something in a certain spot and that initiates the DIY.  But, if you are like me and just need to make a sign, then picking a word or message can be an additional step.

Since I am a reseller I think about what is trending.  Coffee bars and hot chocolate stations are always popular, so writing coffee on a board is going to be appealing to a lot of people.

What I tend to do as I am on social media or reading blogs is to create folders for inspiration.  If I’m scrolling and I see a neat sign, then I save it!  Later when I’m doing a project, I will reference back to the folder to decide what I want to create.

I haven’t made a MAPLE sign, but I saw one hanging in someone’s house on Instagram and fell in love.  It was simple, unique, and was on what looked like a salvaged headboard.  Someday I will make one!

Letters printed out for the DIY sign

Choosing a Font

This can be a time consuming task.  I used Canva for selecting my font for this coffee sign, but I have used Word in the past as well.

I like programs where I can type a word and then each time I change the font, the word changes to that font.  I think that is an accurate way to make sure that the word you will be using works with that font.  

Fonts create a feeling.  Fonts look different with different letters and whether the letter is lower or upper case. 

If you are writing a message, poem, saying then you can always choose to do different lines in your text or words in your message in a different size, font, or case.

Cutting the paper smaller around the letter.

Printing Your Letters

For my coffee sign you will see that I only printed one F and one E.  When you print your letters you can easily use them over and over again for different signs and projects.

Before you hit print be sure to have the letters the size that you want them for the sign.  This technique is not like using an old school overhead projector.  The size you print is the size they will be on your sign.

Blow up the font on your paper and print ONE letter.  Place that letter on your board and decide if it’s the right size or if you need to make adjustments.  Once you are happy with the one letter then you can print the rest the same size.

Be sure the letters fit on the board you have.  For my coffee sign I knew it was extra long.  It’s actually splintered on one end.  I started to place my letters on the good end close to the top and then after the sign was complete I cut off the excess.

Just checking the size of the letters compared to the board

Coordinating Your Sign

I do think that the word or message you use must coordinate with the board you have selected.  Certain boards, words, and fonts create certain feelings and we want all of those things to match.

Knowing the word you will use, the board you will use, the colors and possibly the location of the sign all impact the choices you make before actually making the sign.

I can’t really describe how you can tell if something works together.  For me, it’s just a feeling I get.

Choosing Colors for Your Sign

Now that you have picked the board, font, message, you need to decide on colors.  Where will this sign go?  What colors are around the area?  

Sometimes you will want something to blend in, but not get lost on the wall.  Sometimes you want something to pop and really stand out.  Whatever you choose is fine!  However you need to pick the background or color for the board AND the color for the word.

It is a lot less work if the board you are using for your sign is already the color that you want, but if it isn’t then paint it.

If you are looking to create a distressed look then I suggest using a dirty board or repurposing one that has a lot of textured paint on it.  HERE are some other ways you can distress your sign.

I used a black Sharpie marker to “paint” on COFFEE, but you can use paint.  I like to use acrylic paint, but anything you have on hand that is the right color will work!  You can buy markers in multiple colors too!  Markers work best on smoother surfaces.

Tracing around the F onto the board

Steps for Making a Sign

Line up your first letter on the board.  While holding it in place with one hand, take a pen or pencil and apply a lot of pressure as you trace the letter.  The pressure you apply is making an indentation in the board.  That indentation is your outline.

While still holding the paper in place with one hand lift one side up of the paper the letter is on.  Do you see an outline?  Did you miss any spots?  Retrace areas as needed.

When you are confident that you have an outline on the board, you may remove the paper.

Continue this process until you have your word or message transferred to the board.

Now take your marker to trace the outline.  Even if you are going to paint the letters, I suggest tracing the letters with a marker first.  If you don’t have a marker that is the same color as the paint, then you could trace it with a pen, pencil or colored pencil.

What the traced letters look like on the board after removing the paper

This step of tracing an outline makes painting the letters much easier!

Tracing the E with a marker
Filling in the shaded area of the E on the sign

When I trace the outline with marker I also have the paper with the printed letter close by.  This allows me to look back at the shape of the letter so that I can paint or use the marker confidently.

The last step is to fill in between the outlines.  Whether you use markers or paint, this is your final step!  You can also always use a black marker for the outline.  Then, fill in with a different paint color.  Then, I suggest going back over the dried paint with the marker again.  This is an easy way to make a nice outlined font.

A shot of the COF filled in the marker and the F traced

Displaying Your Sign

Depending on your sign orientation and size, you may want to hang your sign instead of just leaning it somewhere.  If this is the case you can use a sawtooth hanger, command strips, or even wire attached with screws.

The finished sign before being cut
Sawtooth hanger on the back of the sign

My board was extra long so I started my COFFEE at the top of the board and put the letters pretty close together versus trying to spread the letters evenly across the entire board. The bottom of the board was cracked a little bit, probably as it was removed from the home it was in. I knew that was the end that I wanted to cut off.

I might also mention that the shellac on this old baseboard was very alligator textured. I like that look and the look it gives the sign. Depending on what kind of board you start with will determine how the indentations you create from tracing the letters will look.

Other Sign Making Tips

Measuring between the letters with the width of my finger

You can use a ruler to line up your letters. As you can see in the photo I tend to eye ball the letter placement and use my finger or something I have close by to make my measurements!

HERE I make farm stand signs using boards that held strands of Christmas lights.

In THIS post I used some stencils I picked up at garage sales and aucitons.

Want to do something freehand? HERE are some hand lettering tips and HERE are more hand lettering tips!

Watch Me On YouTube

This post may contain affiliate links for the products I use and recommend. I am not paid to promote these products. If you purchase using my affiliate links, I could make a small commission at no charge to you.

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