Making Vintage-style Signs

Making Vintage-style Signs

Make your own personalized vintage-style sign with these simple step-by-step instructions.
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I just love the way an old sign looks hanging in a home. Unfortunately, old signs are not so easy to come by and can be quite expensive to purchase. But here’s a simple way to create your own vintage-style sign with minimal cost. For this tutorial, I cleaned up and lightly sanded a simple $2 cupboard door that I found at the recycle area of our local landfill (step 1).
step by step
Cupboard door panels, whether old or new, work well because most have nice framework around them. If there are hardware holes, simply fill them with spackle, dry and sand before painting. Other things that work great as sign boards are center panels removed from an old door and tall baseboard molding. Of course, most any surface can be painted on using these techniques, even your wall as long as there isn’t a texture to it.

First, measure the dimensions of the panel for the text (step 2).

Using craft acrylic paint, create a light colored background and paint the frame border to best match your decor. I painted a thin coat of white over the already light wood and painted the border a soft grey to go with the slate and stainless steel colors in my kitchen (step 3).

Using decorative type on your computer or with letters from a typeface book, design your sign to the dimensions of the measured panel and outline the type (step 4).

I chose a baking theme since everyone in my family loves to bake. Enlarge your image to exact size and either print from your computer on several sheets of paper or on a copy machine in sections. Line up and tape all the paper pieces together, trimming away as much overlap as possible (steps 5 & 6).

For transferring the lettering, you can use graphite transfer paper, found at most art supply stores. Or you can create the same effect by simply taping your sign to a window, with the back of the paper facing you and the lettering now appearing in reverse with the light coming through. Using a standard pencil, scribble over all areas of type to be traced (step 7).

Once you’ve penciled the back of your paper, using masking tape, lay the design in place, face up on the board and adhere the top corners. Trace over all of the type with a ballpoint pen (step 8).

Lift the paper as you go to be sure you are not missing any areas of the lettering (step 9).

When all type is transferred, remove paper and begin painting (step 10).

Most minor errors in your painting can easily be fixed later when sanding your piece.

I added one additional border of black around the inside trim of the framework and gave the whole sign an aged and distressed look with sandpaper by sanding areas along the edges of the board and trim and sections of the painted type (step 11).

Finally, finish with a coat of spray surface sealer and hang!
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recent comments
10/1/2010 , 
Merideth  B.
great idea! what fonts did you use?
9/22/2009 , 
Michelle  V.
Great idea!So simple and inexpensive to do.Keep up the great work!
7/7/2009 , 
Diana  S.
Awesome Ides! Great for a simple gift idea.
6/3/2009 , 
Cheryl  G.
Wonderful, I am going to seal mine with all weather seal and hang it on my porch right outside the front door for all to see. Then I'll probably make a different one for each room, maybe a different saying for each season on the one on the porch. The possibilities are endless! Thank You so much you have my creative juices flowing.
5/19/2009 , 
michelle  g.
awesome idea. My youngest son loves to work with wood, and I love old signs and personalizing things for our home. Great project for us, thanks for sharing the idea and information on how to do it!!
Showing 1 - 5 of 14 comments:
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