How to Paint a Wood Sign (and Build a Frame, too)

How to Paint a Wood Sign (and Build a Frame, too)

how to paint a wood sign graphic

You were right.

Of course you were.

Why didn’t I listen to you earlier?  Lark Rise to Candleford is wonderful.

I’m not even through the first season, but I want to live there.  Well, I really want to live in Candleford and marry the squire.

I want to be friend with Bates….I mean Robert Timmins…..the intelligent, but somewhat opinionated and difficult stonemason.

I want to walk those back pastures and roads and wander through the English countryside and work at the post office.

Oh….and wear one of those hats.

However, I live in 2015 in the Kentucky countryside where we don’t have squires or thatched roofs or opinionated stonemasons.

But we do paint signs.

Want to make one of your own?  Here’s the DIY on how to build the frame and paint the sign.

building a wood sign

Step 1:  Buy your wood

I bought all this wood at the home improvement store.

I had them cut it there.  The piece of plywood came over in the pre-cut section.  You can buy plywood like this in 2 feet by 4 feet per-cut sections.  This piece was actually 4 feet by 4 feet that I had them cut down there to 48″ x 30″ because that was the size of my image.

Here’s the exact dimensions of the wood

1 piece 1/2″ plywood 48″ x 30″

2 pieces of 1×2 cut to 48″

2 pieces of 1×2 cut to 32″

thistlewood sign

2.  Design your sign

I just took my logo and added the year the house was built in a separate font.

You could write a quote or a family saying or use a vintage graphic.  There are tons of free vintage graphics found here.

I printed it out on my home computer and took it to my local copy center and had it blown up over-sized.

wood sign thistlewood

And now it looked like this.

I told the copy center the dimensions (48″ x 30″) and they have a giant printer that prints this out.

I think it was only about $6.00 to have it enlarged like this.

thistlewood sign priming and painting

Step 3:  Prime and paint your plywood

I primed it first to make sure that none of the knot holes showed through.

Then I painted it with a coat of white paint.

thistlewood sign boards

Step 4:  Stain the edges of the frame

I stained the boards with a dark walnut stain.

Let the stain and the paint dry.

how to build a wood sign

Step 5:  Nail 1×2 frame to plywood board

No mitered corners.

Nothing fancy.

Just the 1×2 frame nailed to the plywood.

thistlewood sign steps

Step 6:  Trace image onto plywood

This step can be done a couple of different ways.

I’m old school.  I use carbon paper from the craft store and then tracing the image onto wood with a ball point pen.

You can also rub pencil on the back of the image and the flipping it over and tracing with a pen.  Either way, the concept is the same.

When you are done, you will have something that looks like this.

wood sign painting diy

Step 7:  Paint

Have fun.  I just used acrylic paints from the craft store and filled in the lines.

Kind of like paint-by-number.

But so much better.

diy wood sign painting

Step 8:  Sand

After I finished painting, I let the paint dry and then I lightly sanded the whole piece.

You don’t have to do this if you want a more graphic image.

After I sanded it…I wiped the whole piece down with a mixture of 1 part white paint to 5 parts water just to give it an aged look.

You will also want to seal the piece with an acrylic top coat for durability.

how to paint a wood sign

Here it is in all its glory.

You can do this.


Now…I’m off to watch another episode of Lark Rise to Candleford.

Oh….and we do wear hats here in Kentucky….

….they are just camouflaged with a tractor on them. 🙂

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  1. Wait!! I need to start and finish Downton Abbey first! And now make a sign!

  2. Perfect!

  3. I would absolutely, 100%, hang this exact sign in my house
    because I love Thistlewood so much! In fact, I may just make
    one and do that, since I don’t live on a farm! Love, love! : )

  4. Great tutorial. Things broken down are not so intimidating after all. Thank you.

  5. This very beautiful with the front page of your blog, great.

  6. Hi Karianne
    Absolutley LOVE your site. I want to encourage you to keep blogging as you touch so many hearts with all your creativity and honesty.
    Thanks for the DIY painted sign, lovely. However, I have a request or maybe it’s a question.. did you make the sign in your dining room, “I hope you’ll dance”? This is the sign I’d like to make but I can’t find a printable online to use. If you have a minute I would sure appreciate any advice.
    Thanks again for being YOU!!!!

  7. The “Postman” is a real hoot ! Also loved the first book you recommend by Kate Morton. It was a great read. Plan on reading her other books. Thanks for the info. Luv your Blog !!!!

  8. I love it. And, you know I love those bright pink blooms. And, don’t forget that I love you, too.♥

  9. Very cool sign, but I can’t get over your peonies! I am patiently (OK, not patiently) waiting for mine to go ahead and bloom already!

  10. Don’t forget our derby hat tradition here in KY!!

  11. If you don’t mind me asking, how are you watching? Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, DVD?

    • I actually downloaded it on i-tunes. It works okay…but I have to download each episode. I already paid for it so I’m pressing on….but next season I’m going to use Amazon and stream it!

      It really is wonderful. And Bates will make you cheer!

      Happy day!

  12. As much as I love Candleford, I think I will take the hamlet of Larkrise and a little cottage with brick on the outside. It’s such a simple life, not complicated. It does have it’s problems but don’t we all. I will see you in the post office and maybe we can visit with Dorcas and have some tea.

  13. Super cute! I love engineering size prints…Staples is very cheap, around $3 for black & white. I mounted my logo print with spray adhesive on canvas, but I love the wood idea.

  14. Love your sign, Karianne! And I’ve see Lark Rise to Candleford but I need to go back and re-watch it. Love the English. 😉

  15. they love each other, but you have to watch and see what happens.
    they were never married to each other.

  16. Ma no no!! mia amica! I’ve seen some of the most fantastic hats in Kentucky — THE DERBY???!!!!! You can’t get any fancier than some of those hats. Why don’t you see if you can find some and then doff them while sipping tea on your terrace. I can see something of Kathryn Hepburn with a huge brimmed hat and a chiffon scarf anchoring it to her head with a huge fluffy bow under her chin. Yep!! You’ll find the hats in Kentucky and then you can wear them while you watch your show. Oh!! BTW — Love the idea of the sign I’m thinking of Raven’s Nest — we live on Ravencrest Ave 🙂 Our house doesn’t have a name and I think it should. Thank you for the idea.

  17. Absolutely beautiful!

  18. That’s incredible. I absolutely love it!

  19. That turned out beautiful! I’m loving the idea of carbon paper. I had my own DIY that I had to trace and carbon paper never came to mind 😉 I went directly to trying to cut and trace…


  20. Your sign is perfect and I love the frame! I hope you have an amazing weekend, KariAnne!!

  21. Your great HOW-TO here gives me confidence that I MIGHT can do this…