I have to admit that I have a thing for DIY farmhouse signs. I’m not kidding! I have so many, that I had to count them. I have not one, not two, but a total of 10 farmhouse signs in my home. I’ve created most of them from scripture or sayings that are meaningful and special to me. They are unique, personal, simple and add character to my home.
I also love adding scripture to my home. This particular verse, Philippians 4:8, is dear to my heart. In a world where there are so many voices and messages, it’s a reminder to protect my heart and mind.
I wanted to add this verse to my home decor in a unique and different way. One day after listening to a scripture reading, the image of stacked printer’s blocks came to mind. So I grabbed my pencil and started to sketch the layout on paper. Within a day, I had all of the blocks cut, painted and ready for words. Then I started designing the file on my computer to make the vinyl stencils.
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It brings me joy to combine different painting techniques with digital art to create unique home decor and share it you! Here is the process I used for this sign.
I raided my scrap wood pile and paint shelf to make this sign. I’ll do my best to list the supplies I used, but it might be less expensive to improvise a bit.
- SCRAP WOOD – VARIOUS SIZES
- LUAN OR PLYWOOD FOR SIGN BACKING
- WOOD GLUE
- MITER SAW
- BRAD NAILER
- PAINT BRUSHES
- FOAM BRUSH
- PAPER TOWELS or BLUE SHOP TOWELS
- WHITE PAINT – MIXED WITH WATER TO MAKE A WASH
- MINWAX WEATHERED OAK STAIN
- RUSTOLEUM CHALKED LINEN WHITE
- VALSPAR ANTIQUING WAX
- VINYL (GREAT WAY TO USE UP SCRAPS)
- TRANSFER PAPER
- CUTTING MACHINE
- WEEDING TOOL OR X-ACTO KNIFE
- SANDING SPONGE
CUT THE SCRAP BOARDS TO VARIOUS SIZES
Take your scrap boards and lay them out to form you’re sign. I included the cut dimensions in the image below. They are close but not exact. Leave some gaps between the boards for a stacked printer’s block look. I didn’t sand any of the boards, since I was going for a rough distressed finish. You will want to sand off any splinters of rough cut edges for safety.
You’ll also want to have the nice guys at Home Depot cut your Luan to size for you. Luan is just a cheap plywood used as underlayment on floors. I like to use it for projects like this because it’s less expensive than plywood. The over all dimensions for this sign are 11.5 inches by 43.5 inches.
DISTRESSED GREY PAINT FINISH
I watered down some white latex paint until it was runny and I could wipe it off. This is called a paint wash. It’s usually one part water to two parts paint. I never measure, I just estimate. Do this in a plastic cup for easy disposal.
Brush this on, one board at a time and wipe it off with a paper towel. If your paper towels are leaving behind lint, switch to a cotton rag or use blue shop towels. Your boards should look like the image below when you’re done.
I wanted to bring out the grain and add an even wood tone back in, so I added some stain and wiped it off.
Here’s a picture of the boards after this step.
Once the boards were dry, I highlighted the boards (dry brush) with some white chalk paint. You can use white latex for this step, too. I’m just using what I have on hand.
For this step, use a dry, clean paint brush. Dip the tips of the bristles into the paint and off-load it a little on a paper towel. Then brush it on the wood randomly. The paint will catch any raised grain or edges.
Here is a picture after dry brushing.
Next, I added some gray paint. Again dry brushing it on. If you get to much paint in one area, wipe it of and rub it with a paper towel. Here it is after the gray paint.
I also added some Valspar antiquing wax to the edges of all the boards and knots. I used it very sparingly and wiped it off with a clean paper towel. Practice with the wax on the back of a board to get a feel for it.
USING A VINYL STENCIL TO PAINT THE WORDS ON YOUR SIGN
There are a few ways to make stencils for signs. For this sign, I used up some left over vinyl to make my stencils. If you’d like the free cut file for Philippians 4:8, it’s available in my library with over 60 other files. For access to the library, just subscribe at the top right sidebar or at the bottom of this post. You’ll then receive a welcome email with the password to access the library.
I cut my stencils using my Silhouette Cameo. Open the SVG file in your cutting machine’s software program. If you are making a different size sign, adjust the size of the file. Then under the send menu, choose the Vinyl, setting (matte or glossy). Place your vinyl on a cutting mat and load the mat into your machine. Do a test cut. If it looks O.K., send the file to cut.
When making a stencil, weed out and remove the letters from your vinyl. This is a one time use stencil, so I didn’t weld the letters together. This means you will need to use transfer paper to keep the center parts of your letters in place. Apply some transfer paper to the front of the vinyl and remove the backing from the vinyl.
Line up the stencil the correct size block and press it down.
Then using an old credit card or plastic scraper burnish the stencil.
Next, carefully peel back the transfer paper from the stencil.
USE A SPONGE TECHNIQUE TO ADD YOUR PAINT TO THE STENCIL
I used a charcoal colored chalk paint to paint my stencil. I like chalk paint for this step because it’s thick and it dries fast. Add a little paint to a disposable container. Burnish the stencil one more time, just before adding your paint. Sometimes the stencil starts to bubble and this will help.
Then dip a makeup sponge or foam applicator into the paint. Off-load the paint a little on a paper plate or paper towel. This will help keep it from bleeding under the vinyl. Dab the paint over the stencil, never wipe it around. You want to dab the paint like you would use a stamp in a down and up motion. Working on one word at a time.
This technique works pretty well, but if the board has a really rough surface, you may still have a little bleeding. Most of the time, I leave it because it adds to the handmade look. But, if it’s bad, let the paint dry and scratch the bleed spots off with an X-acto knife. Below is a picture of the sign after the words are stenciled.
Here is a close-up before I distressed it. You can see the word “RIGHT” had a little bleeding because of the rough surface on the board. I left it alone, since I liked the texture on it.
Lightly sand the words to distress them and wipe the sign to remove the sanding dust. Then wipe on a thin layer of clear wax to seal the chalk paint and buff it out with a clean rag.
ASSEMBLE THE SIGN
To assemble the sign, I laid the blocks out on a flat surface. Be sure to place a drop cloth or protective covering over your surface. Arrange the blocks exactly the way you want them to be when finished.
Add some wood glue to the back of each block and spread it around. Don’t use too much glue or it will ooze over the edges of your blocks. Next, lay your luan/plywood backing over the blocks, taking care to line it up evenly.
At this point, you have two options. Place a large heavy object on the back of the luan to hold it in place until the glue dries (preferably overnight). Make sure the weight is evenly dispersed and heavy enough to hold the luan to the blocks while the glue dries.
I am not patient enough to wait for glue to dry. So, I used my brad nailer and 9/16″ brad nails to secure the luan to each of the smaller boards. The combination of glue and brad nails held the blocks nicely in place. The gaps between the boards are pretty small, but I still painted my luan backing board before I attached the smaller boards to it.
Here’s a peek of the sign in my living room. You can follow any of these links for the following projects: fireplace over-mantel, picture frame molding, stenciling a wall, fireplace built-ins or creating large frames from cheap photo frames.
It’s fun to take a walk down memory lane and see how my style has changed. I think I’ve finally landed on light, bright, airy, gray, blue and beige. I’m pretty sure it’s modern farmhouse with a traditional and mildly rustic twist to keep things interesting. 🙂
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Are you going to give it a try? I’d love to see some pictures of your projects. Thanks for checking out this DIY farmhouse sign. I hope you found some inspiration and motivation for your own project!