At some point in time, I set out to run an Etsy store. I knew that wooden signs were pretty popular so I decided to make and sell them. The process of making a wooden sign seems pretty simple, but there are definitely some tricks that will create a better end result.
Once you understand the process, you’ll be able to make any design you want. You’re only constrained by the material size you cut out on the cameo. That being said, there are other ways to make larger wooden signs. Here are a few different signs:
Here’s a Namaste sign that’s similar to what we’ll make in this post:
Choosing the Base:
We’re going to start with the simplest version of a wooden sign. The easiest way to do that is with a single piece of wood and a design without intricate details. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of yoga and want to make a Namaste sign to hang in my woodworking corner.
I’ve made the Namaste wood sign before and it’s fairly simple. For the Namaste sign pictured above, the only trick is that you need to split up the word into “Nam” and “aste” for it to come out correctly with the Cameo. After it’s cut out, there’s a little finesse involved in joining the two pieces.
For this post we’re going to make a similar Namaste sign with a Lotus flower. Instead of making the sign wide, I’m going to use a 1×10 pine board with a larger flower above the letters. I’m also going to make a similar sign without the letters for comparison because I have two boards ready to go with the steel wool, tea, and vinegar stain.
Scaling the design:
For this step I’ll assume that everyone wants to make the Namaste sign with one or two Lotus flowers. The process for scaling the design to your piece of wood is the same regardless of the design you use.
- 1×10 Pine Board or whatever surface you want to use
- Steel Wool, Tea, Vinegar stain or any other stain you want or no stain
- Two or more colors of paint – I used 4 Behr samples for this project
- Cameo Silhouette or Cricut
- Modge Podge
- Contact Paper
- Assorted brushes for stain, paint, and modge podge
In this project I have the boards pre stained with the steel wool, tea, and vinegar stain. You can use that stain, any other stain, or no stain as a base coat depending on the look you want.
With the base color down, it’s time to get started with the Cameo. I lay out the design and then set the Cameo to cut out along the edges. The cutting pad is a square foot, which fits pretty well for this project. Our boards are roughly 9 inch squares so it’s easy to size the images to fit. Working with the Cameo is a lesson in and of itself. It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it though.
With the images set up to be cut, it’s time to get the cutting surface ready. My preferred material for making signs is double sided shelf liner (aka Contact Paper). The stuff is cheap and relatively cooperative.
Make Note: Now as a brief diversion, let’s talk about stencils. I initially tried to make signs using laminated paper that I cut into stencils. The stencils just didn’t work. Paint ran under the edges and everything was messy. The key to getting crisp edges is using some material that seals to your surface. I’m sure there are creative ways to transfer images onto tape or hand cut contact paper, but the Cameo is a quick and easy solution. Onward . . .
After the machine cuts out the shapes, you’re ready to apply the image to your board. The challenge with the application is that you have a backing sheet on your counter paper that you need to remove. However, you’ll have a really tough time if you just pull the backing sheet off and attempt to apply the sticky paper.
The best way to transfer your image onto the board is to place another sheet of counter paper against the front side of your image. Placing the transfer sheet keeps the shapes arranged properly and makes it much easier to transfer the image. With the transfer sheet in place, you can peel off the backing sheet and place your image onto the board.
Another Note: I’ve used both colored and clear shelf paper to make signs. Using clear paper makes it much easier to see how your image will be laid out on the board. My recommendation . . . use clear contact paper.
With the image in place, it’s time to peel out the blank spaces. The Cameo comes with a handy plastic tool to help you pull out the blank pieces you don’t want. After the blank spaces are gone, it’s a good idea to push down on the shelf paper around the edges to get a good seal.
With the template in place, it’s time to seal around the edges. If you don’t seal around the edges, the paint will likely run under the edges of the shelf paper making the images much less crisp. Mod Podge seems to be the best solution to seal around the edges to keep the paint from running under. Gracefully paint it on around all the edges and let it dry.
Once the Mod Podge is dry, you’re ready to paint. It’s a good idea to be careful around the edges even though the Mod Podge should keep paint from running under the edges. Depending on the paint you’re using, you may want two coats. For the signs in this post, I’m using two coats of the main paints plus a light third coat in a second color with a sponge.
After painting the signs with two coats of the primary colors, I decided that I wanted a little extra character to the flowers. I decided to use a damp sponge to dab on a second color to make the Lotus flowers more interesting.
Once the paint sets up to tacky, you can start thinking about peeling off the shelf liner. Peeling off the liner too soon can make a mess and peeling it off too late means you’ll need to be careful about the paint feeling up with the sticky paper.
After you take off the Contact Paper it’s a good idea to let the sign sit overnight for the paint to completely dry.
Since I ended up with two signs I decided to try out two sealers for comparison. I sealed the Namaste text sign with MinWax Water Based Polyurethane and the Lotus flower sign with Zissner Bulls Eye Shellac. Both products are easy to find at most home stores.
The process for sealing the signs is simple, but it takes a little while. I used three coats of the both sealers and lightly sanded between coats. The coats also need to dry a few hours in between.
At the end of the sealing process I noticed that the Shellac adds a slight yellowish hue to the painted Lotus Flower and I wasn’t crazy with the outcome. Fortunately, you can’t really tell from a distance or in the pictures. The MinWax Poly was crystal clear and has a much nicer feel. Going forward, Minwax Poly will be my sealer of choice for wooden signs.
Here they are in their final state. They’re ready for hanging!
Hi, I’m Dan.