• Heather

DIY Rustic Sign Making for Cheap-Os

If you're anything like me, the last thing I want to spend money on is something complicated that's going to clutter up my house. Cricut and Sillhouette machines got me all hyperventilating thinking about $$$ I could be spending on allthechickens and downloads and cords EVERYWHERE and WHEREAMIGOINGTOPUTITOMG...breathe. Ok. SO. I saw this in a random Pinterest post, forgot where, so I'm not the brilliant original inventor of it. Just sayin.

I LOVE saving money. Like it's a hobby. And using stuff lying around. We had to renovate our backyard fence years ago (like had to, you could blow on it and it would fall over), and because I'M A GENIUS I told hubby "SAVE THAT CRAP! I WILL FIND A USE FOR IT! … SOMEDAY..." And I did! Three years later. I've made picture frames (cause those things are expensive!), random hangings, and some signs. All from old cedar, redwood, and fir fence boards that were 30-40 years old. These signs aren't the adorable perfect-looking signs with intricate designs, that would require very flat plywood. If you want to re-purpose old barn wood or fence boards (or use new ones) and have them look rustic, you've come to the right place.

My method involves five things that are a must:

-a regular NORMAL printer


-those squishy foam brushes (little ones are best)

-an exacto-knife

-paint (duh) - (I used white semi-gloss we had lying around for most boards, and painted the words with acrylic paint...the cheap ones from Michaels, etc.)

First things first though. Ya gotta scrub those boards. Reclaimed boards come with all kinds of nastiness on and in them. Give them a good shower and use a brush to clean them, or power-wash them like I do. It's like SO FUN.

Ah. Much better. If these were going in my house I would also steam them...

If you want the boards to look like mine, I poured or rolled on paint and then scraped off the excess with a PUTTY KNIFE?. Like so:

Ok so back to the actual sign making. First, use your word processing program to type what you want your sign to say. I am extra-cheap so we still have Word 2003 and I managed the fonts in the pictured signs. I changed the formatting to outline text (to save on ink, naturally) and make it easier to cut out. Measure how big you want the letters and adjust accordingly. Print out on your cardstock.

Use an exacto-knife to cut out the letters. I had a dull blade lying around and figured Amazon wouldn't consider them a "pandemic necessity" so I made do. They weren't perfectly cut but we are making them rustic after all, aren't we? Save the cut-outs! Ill explain why next.

Use those cut outs to get a good representation of where you want the letters to go. The template is just not going to cut it visually. After measuring and moving the words around, I place the stencil on top of letters and slide them out from underneath.

I then tape the words and little cutouts for "O's" and such with washi tape (which I like because it comes in super skinny and adorable patterns, and seems to stick better to wood. You could try painters tape or just hold on tight to the template).

I barely dip my foam brush into paint and DAB it on the board. Barely smoosh it, you don't want it bleeding under the cardstock template. Work around the taped inside parts of the "o's", "a's", etc. and then lift and dab in the missing parts. You could change the location of the tape or simply eyeball it like I did.

If I'm feeling extra type-A I will take some white paint and "correct" some of the parts that bled. You can even use some sandpaper to rough up the edges of the letters.

And voila! A DIY rustic sign that should cost under $5 for materials. It may cost you your sanity, however. # worth it.

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