How to Build a Large Word Sign

September 6, 2018

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Do you love the look of a large word sign? Is the cost a little more than you want to fork out? Why not make your own? The inspiration for this project was a metal vintage sign at a local antique store, that I fell in love with. The cost was a little more than I wanted to spend, so I found a way to duplicate it using old wood that I already had.

Now I know what you may be thinking: I don’t have any old wood lying around. That’s ok. There are a few options: 1.) pallet wood…maybe you know someone who has access to pallets and could snag you one–not advocating stealing them, of course. 2.) store-bought wood made to look old. 3.) old barn wood that really, truly is old. 4.) cedar fencing cut to the size you desire your sign to be. However, you acquire your wood, you will see just how easy this DIY Project is…with minimal cost and only a few supplies. I finished this project in a matter of a couple hours (and alot of that time was allowing the paint to dry). So let’s get started…

How to make a large word sign:

Old barn wood can be very dirty and sometimes even have little bugs living in them. So, the first step is always to clean your wood very well. I scrubbed mine down with an iron brush and hot soapy water. This was sufficient enough…thankfully, no little critters were living inside them. 🙂

Depending on the type of wood you’re using, you may want to add a little paint to your boards. Dry-brushing is a great technique to make wood look old. Very simple: just dip your paint brush gently into your paint (only getting the tip of the brush slightly wet) and lightly paint onto the surface. This causes the paint to only hit certain spots of the boards and gives a weathered look. It’s always a good idea to try any new technique out on a scrap piece of wood first.

If you’re using new wood, you could dry-brush it and rough it up with some 60-grit sandpaper. Or maybe you prefer a not-so-vintage look. In that case, choose any paint color you would like and paint the entire board one solid color.

Your next step is to attach your boards together. You can do this by using a Kreg Jig (if you have one) or there’s another way that will work: Lay your boards upside-down and attach 1×4’s vertically (perpendicular) to your horizontal boards. Your vertical boards will span the width of your horizontal boards. Nail or screw in a 1×4 every 10 inches to hold your boards together. Unfortunately, I failed to take a picture of this–sorry, blogger-fail! Here’s a front-view of the boards attached….

2014-15 2901

Aren’t they beautiful? I love the look of old barn wood.

Now we’re ready to lay out our letters. I purchased these cardboard letters from Hobby Lobby. I bought two of each letter to stack on top of one another and add some dimension to my sign…

old barn wood

After deciding on the look I wanted, I painted each letter. Because I doubled up my letters, I only had to paint the sides of the bottom letters and the face and sides of the top letter. Then I placed them on 2×4’s to dry…

old barn wood

I wanted a rust color for my letters so I went with Junk Gypsy’s Dirtroad Dreamer. Love this line of chalk paint. They carry beautiful colors and the paint quality is superb….

old barn wood

Another option: instead of painting the letters, spray paint would be super-easy. If you were wanting more of an industrial look, metallic spray paint would be awesome and would totally change the look of this sign. Have fun with it and figure out what look you are going for.

Finally, after allowing my paint to dry, I stacked my letters together and used tiny nails to attach them to the wood.

And that’s it!! This project is so easy, so much fun, and so low-cost! If I were to buy this sign at a home decor shop, it would be well over $100. All said and done, I spent less than $30. And bonus…I get more compliments on this piece, than probably any other decor in my house. And double bonus…I get to say, “I built this!”

Large word signs call for large wall spaces. They are a great way to fill a large space that you just can’t seem to come up with an idea of what to put there.

dining room with home decor and large word sign

dining room with home decor and large word sign

dining room table with large word sign in background

So grab your materials and lets get started.

Until next time,

Happy Building!!

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Want more? Check out these great posts…..

How To Build a Barnwood Christmas Sign

How to Make Your Own Sliding Barn Door

Easy How-To and Hardware for Hanging a Sliding Barn Door

How to Build a Chalkboard Display Wall Your Kids Will Love



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  1. Elsa

    What stain is on the dining table top?

    • Nicole Nigg

      I wish I could answer this for you but I’m unsure. I built this one before I started and blogging and keeping a record of all of that. I’m thinking I may have used General Finishes Java Gel Stain. By simply applying it and then wiping it off right away. Hopefully this helps. 🙂


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