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DIY Reclaimed Wood Signs

By Rachel

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Last Updated on February 2, 2022 by Rachel Granholm

I want teach you how to create your own DIY reclaimed wood signs!

Today’s blog is not so much about home decor but more of a tutorial on creating reclaimed wood signs.

I’ve been making these DIY reclaimed wood signs for over a year now and wanted to share my knowledge of a really easy way to do so! These old wooden signs are not only fun to create but I also find such joy in repurposing wood that has had such a journey with years and years of wear. This old wood is given a new purpose by now being a pretty sign for your home. So, here are the steps that you can follow to make a sign of your own.

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-reclaimed wood
a tape measure
-pencil and eraser
philips screwdriver
electric sander
100 grit sandpaper
a mitre saw
DecoArt Americana white paint
foam brushes
DecoArt Americana colored paint
letter stencils
foam dobbers
small craft paintbrushes
-paper plate
-an old sheet or towel
sawtooth hooks


  1. Find some old wood.
    Antique stores, lumber yards, and Facebook Marketplace, or your parent’s old fence are all places to locate wood in your area. Examples of reclaimed wood include old wooden fencing, wood from an old house, old pallets, barn wood, etc… As long as the wood is somewhat old so that it looks weathered you will be good to go.
  2. Cut it to length if needed.
    The length of the board depends on what you would like the sign to say and if you will be putting a picture of some kind on it. Sometimes you won’t need to do any cutting if the board is already at a desired length. However, if a board is too long for the lettering, you will need to do some measuring first to see where the lettering will start and stop and then cut it to length. Tip: I use a mitre saw for this.
  3. Sand it down.
    Using a sander, sand the whole board down including the sides and the back. Having an electric sander makes this job a lot easier. Wet a paper towel or an old rag just slightly and wipe the wood down to remove excess dust after sanding.
  4. Whitewash it!
    I suggest putting an old sheet or towel down under the wood so you don’t get any paint on the surface you are using. Pick the side of the board that you would like to use. Typically the side that has more character such as knots in the wood make for really pretty signs.To whitewash, put some white paint on a paper plate and then dip the top of the 2-inch foam brush into the paint. Start at one end of the board and just go back and forth on all sides (except the back) until you get the desired look that you are after. Go light on the paint as we’re going for a weathered look here. Let that paint dry completely. Tip: If you apply too much paint, just let it dry and sand it down a bit.
  5. Lettering.
    You can either choose to use letter stencils, which is what I did for quite a long time when I first started out, or you can hand letter on your own. Either way will create a beautiful sign.

    There are many different types of sizes and fonts available online or in stores. Lay the letters out on the wood first to get the spacing correct. For example, if you are lettering the word ‘FARMHOUSE’, lay out all the stencil letters and then step back and look to make sure it is straight and that you have a good amount of space on either side of the word itself. If you are planning on putting some type of design next to your word, you will need to factor that in and move the letters to the left or right so you have space for that.

    Then,  grab a foam dabber, dab it a few times into your paint color of choice, and then go right into stenciling the letters. Go slow with this process so that you don’t get any paint bleeding under the stencil. Sometimes, after pulling the stencils off, you might notice that some of the paint bled out underneath the stencil, but that’s okay! Just go back with a skinny paintbrush with the same color paint and finesse the edges with that.

    This option is fairly new to me so I pull inspiration from signs on Pinterest. If there is a particular sign that has a pretty font, I will keep that on the computer screen for reference while drawing the letters. Now, for hand lettering, there is an extra step involved of measuring so that the spacing is correct. To do this, measure the whole board from end to end and then divide that by the number of letters in the word you are lettering. For example, if the word you are lettering is ‘welcome’ and the board is 53 inches long, divide 53 by 7 which is approximately 7 inches. 7 inches will be the amount of space per letter.

    So, from here, leave 2-3 inches at the top and bottom of the board to start and then make a pencil mark every 7 inches until you have all your letters spaced out. This makes it super simple for knowing how much space you have for each letter. Now, using a pencil and having a nice eraser handy, you are ready to start lettering however you like. Once you have the letters done in pencil, pick the paint color you would like to use and put that on a paper plate. I start with a skinny liner brush and just do the outline of each letter first and then go back with a little larger brush to flood the inside. Let that paint dry completely.

  6. OPTIONAL-add a visual or design.
    This step is completely optional but can be really cute if you want to try it. As an example, I made a sign recently that said ‘the lake’ on it and I added a simple oar on the right side. For the oar, I just drew an outline with pencil and then used a small paintbrush to fill it in with paint. It’s subtle but adds so much to that sign!
  7. Add the hook.
    You’ll likely want to hang the sign. To do that you’ll need a hook! Once all the paint is dry, turn the wood over and find the middle of the board by using a tape measure. If you have a long sign, like one that is over 40 inches, I recommend using 2 hooks, about 1/4 of the way in on each side of the sign. Attach the hooks with the hardware they came with, usually screws.
  8. Show it off!
    There you have it! You’ve created your very own reclaimed wood sign and I’m sure it is so pretty. Find a spot in your home to hang it where you and others will be able to admire it often.

I hope this was helpful for you and that you are eager to get going on your own sign project!

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Rachel from The Antiqued Journey blog

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