How to Make Your Own Sign (on the cheap!)

Signs. They’re everywhere. And they’re so adorable – so many wonderful quotes out there, I could seriously have one in every room of my house (actually, now that I think about it, I think I do!). I have had the honor to make some recently for some VERY important causes – friends and family of mine who hold charity events, like bull roasts and golf tournaments have asked me to create signs for their silent auctions. The most recent is for The Menkes Foundation. My cousin asked me if I would come up with something for their upcoming golf tournament’s silent auction, and I had the perfect quote as soon as she asked. Her son, our family’s own little miracle child, has Menkes and is doing SO well, despite some pretty terrifying statistics. He has been beating the odds since he was born, and even stumps doctors with how well he’s doing! There’s a good chance you haven’t even heard of Menkes – none of us had before Ben – it is a rare genetic disorder (1 in 100,000) that affects copper levels in the body. Ben continues to inspire us every day. He is pure sunshine and his smile is contagious. I mean, for real. I see pictures of him on Facebook and I smile every single time – it’s like he beams. So, Ben’s sunshiney-smiley self was my decision behind making this particular sign.

While I was making this sign, I was thinking since they are soooo popular these days, it might make an informative post for my awesome readers:). They can be pretty pricey in the stores, but they can cost you next to nothing to make. All you need is a piece of wood, some paint, stencils, and a paint marker. For this project, I just needed to pick up a piece of wood, since I already had all the other stuff on hand. This wood cost less than $5, so not too bad for a large sign, huh?!

This is just a 2ft x 2ft piece of wood from Lowes. It’s the same one I used to make my DIY Chevron Frame. First, I prime it – either spray or use a roller if you want. Probably not totally necessary, but if you’re going with a light color, it’s nice to know it’s primed;). Then I just used some leftover Kingston Aqua from the kitchen island. If you want, you can spray paint it a color, or again, use a roller if you’ve got a color laying around like I did. You could even go to Lowes and just choose a sample to buy – they only cost a couple bucks and you could get a very unique color!

I paint both sides (if it’s for me, I probably would only worry about the front, but since it’s for an auction, I did the back too;). Once it’s dry, I get out my FAVORITEST EVER stencils – 4in Rustic Alphabet Letters from Hobby Lobby. (You can order them online here). They ROCK, people. They’re so “rustic” that they look even better if they aren’t perfectly straight! I love that. Before I trace anything, I lay the letters out to see how they fit. Sometimes (most times actually) I like to mix things up with a couple words here and there. I’ll use some smaller stencils I have for certain words, or all capital letters for an important word. Or a lot of times I like to freehand parts of it. Not only does it make it more interesting to add some handwriting, it makes it go quicker too! So play around, see what you like before you start tracing.

Once you’re set and happy with the layout of the letters, take a paint marker and trace the letters.

This one is Sharpie brand, but I have found that nothing compares to Elmer’s. This one was on sale super cheap, so I thought I’d try it, but it’s no Elmer’s.

Just pick up the stencil after you’ve traced the letter and keep on pluggin’ away!

Now that the outlines are done, go back and color them in with your marker. *If you want to use regular craft/acrylic paint, that works great too, just a little more time consuming. I’ve done it when I want to use a color that paint markers don’t come in – there’s a limited color selection when it comes to those markers. Just use a pencil to do your tracing, and use a teeny tiny brush to fill in the letters.

I thought this one might look nice with a little sanding to give it that slightly distressed look. Since it’s not for me, I didn’t go too crazy with the sanding, in case the bidders aren’t into that look;). I just take a piece of sandpaper (or sandblock) and buff it up, especially on the corners and edges.


I think this would just be so sweet in a nursery, or a playroom. Heck, even on a gallery wall, surrounded by a bunch of precious candid shots.

Just to show you some examples of using a variety of stencils and wood sizes, here are some past projects:

Wow, I really do use the heck out of those Rustic Stencils, huh?!

Another tip when making one of these signs – place your first word and last word stencils down first, so you know you won’t either run out of room or have TOO much room when you’re finished your quote. You can then go fill in the rest, and know how to properly space the words out.

So that’s my little tutorial on making a meaningful sign for your home, or perhaps someone else’s. What a great gift idea too, perfect for a wedding or new baby…I love how personalized you can get with this project.

Happy Stenciling!

Leave a Reply