"Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs," as the old Creedence Clearwater Revival song used to say. These signs are used for a variety of things from direction giving to decorative to outright sale or advertising of items. Most of these signs are made from metal and tin but a few of the old-time classic ones are made from wood. Of the three types of material wood is the least durable but it brings a certain personality to the signs made. A lot of woodworkers have made a living from making hand-crafted retro signs for collectors or business owners. There is still room in the American aesthetic for these classic signs.
If you want to learn how to make a wooden sign, you’ll need the following items:
- Sketch pad
- Wood-burning pen
- Pencils and sketch pad
- Power carver
- Wood stain
- Wood sealant
Once you have your materials, use these instructions to make the signs:
- Design the sign. Take your pencil and sketch pad and first sketch out the sign you want to make. Try to make a scale guide at the side of the sketch so that you have an accurate representation of the sign. Keep in mind that when you start carving the sign on the wood, the tiniest of mistakes will cause you to scrap that piece of wood and start all over again. That would be a waste of the wood and time.
- Choose the wood. You need to decide what kind of wood you’re going to use for your sign. For durability, select oak, pine or ash. This is also a great selection because the wood is easy to carve. When selecting your wood, make sure there is bark still left on it.
- Start carving. Take the design you created from Step 1 and begin carving your sign. Use a hammer and different sized chisels for the different lines you’ll be using for the sign. Wide chisels are best for outlines for raised letters and designs then use the smaller ones for details and finishing. You can also use a power carver as well. Carvers are best for carving engraving and sanding and if you’re not too used to a chisel, a power carver will serve your purposes better.
- Burning. A wood burning pen is also great if you want to burn designs to the signs. This is great if you want that rustic, primitive look for your signs. Wood burning pens are also relatively easier to use than a chisel set or a power carver.
- Sand and finish. After you’re done making your sign, you’ll notice that there are a lot of splintery wood left over. To prevent people getting splinters sand the edges and the sign with either sandpaper or a power sander. It’s best that you paint or color your signs after sanding them. Finally, use clear weather sealant or wood stain to make sure your signs stand up well against the elements.
After designing your wonderful, attention-grabbing signs, you can put them up for sale in a number of media.
- Online: Create a website to sell your signs.
- Outdoors: Use signs to sell your signs! Simply post your signs in well-traveled roads and make sure the signs contain your contact information.
- Consignment: Put your signs in local antique shops or local businesses. Sometimes the signs will sell themselves so make sure you put them in highly visible areas.