Here’s how to build a frame from inexpensive wood and how to paint the wood you’ve framed with a sign. Step-by-step instructions included.

wood sign painting diy

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 a frame and paint the sign.

how to build a frame

How to build a frame

Step 1:  When learning how to build a sign start with 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 pre-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 knotholes showed through.

Then I painted it with a coat of white paint.

thistlewood sign boards

Step 4:  Stain the edges of the frame

When learning how to build a sign, this is the wood that makes up your frame.

You’ll want to stain it to match your decor.

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

This is the simplest step when learning how to build a frame.

No mitered corners.

Nothing fancy.

Just the 1×2 frame nailed to the plywood.

thistlewood sign steps

Step 6:  Trace image onto plywood

When you are learning to paint a sign, 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 ballpoint 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.

how to build a frame

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.

how to build a frame and paint a sign

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 topcoat for durability.

how to build a frame

Here it is in all its glory.

You can do this. You can learn how to build a frame and paint it, too.

(total aside: If this is all a little overwhelming? Why not start with a five-minute art idea like this one?)


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. 🙂

PS Now you can start working on your next home project like one of these.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Peg Peg

    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! : )

  2. Image for cynthia s. cynthia s.

    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!!!!

  3. Image for Lynda Lynda

    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 !!!!

    1. Image for Thistle Thistle

      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! karianne

  4. Image for Charlotte Charlotte

    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.

  5. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    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.

  6. Image for Seng Seng

    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... xo, Seng

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