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Build a Barn Wood Sign for Fall

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By now y'all probably know that my favorite season is fall. To say that I'm in love with fall decor is a complete understatement and once I start seeing harvest merchandise in stores, especially Michael's, I get weak in the knees.
A few years ago Rob bought a truck load (literally) of barn wood from a local guy--the man filled the back of our truck up to the brim with old barn doors, shutters, beams, and the like, and Rob has made several different pieces over the years with the wood he purchased. This year, however, I decided to switch up my usual medium of pallet wood for barn wood, so I raided Rob's stash. Thus, the birth of this amazingly simple, yet charming sign.
Time: 2 Hours Cost: $10 Difficulty: Easy
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Are y'all as in love with this as I am?? I know this will fit right into our "new" farmhouse next fall. I can already picture it sitting on our dining room fireplace mantel with wheat shoots and various colors and sizes of pumpkins!
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PRE-STEP 1: Before I go in to the supplies and steps, I just wanted to show the original barn door that I got the wood off of. This sucker was HEAVY (Rob had to help me get it up on a table so I could pull the pieces apart. If you are doing this project and you're going to use the wood off of an old barn door like I did, I suggest using a flat bar. Start at one corner and carefully pry the edges up first, work your way down one side, then the other. You can easily split the wood if you're too rough with it so take your time getting the wood separated. It's a pain and it's tough but it's so worth it when you see the beautiful barn wood slats in tact once you're finished.
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SUPPLIES:
-barn wood
-fine grit sandpaper
-wire brush
-Minwax finishing wax paste
-6.75" metal letters (or you can use wood)
Not pictured:
-hammer
-picture nails
-sharpie
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STEP 1: Hammer old nails
Remember the pre-step of prying the barn boards apart? Well, now it's time to hammer in those pesky existing nails. If you want, you can knock them out completely, but I liked seeing the nail heads so I decided to hammer them flush with the board on the front, then hammered them over and essentially squished them on the back so there were no pointy/sharp edges sticking out.
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STEP 2: Clean up the wood
Next, I wanted to knock off any dirt and/or flaky old paint so I took a wire brush and brushed the barn board. Unless there was something that wasn't coming off easily, I brushed in one direction with long strokes.
Then, using a piece of fine grit sandpaper, I lightly sanded the entire board, paying extra attention to the edges to ensure there weren't any splinters that could snag.
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STEP 3: Apply wax
I guess this could possibly be an optional step but I highly recommend it, whether you are putting your sign inside or out.
Once my wood was all cleaned up, I took a rag and applied finishing wax paste to my board. Because the wood grains were deep in places, I paid careful attention to making sure I rubbed the wax in the creases. Even though no one will see the back of my sign, I still waxed the entire board. You just never know with wood so I like to play it safe and protect it regardless of where it will be sitting/hanging.
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STEP 4: Add letters
Finally, I was able to spell out my word with metal letters. Michael's was having a huge end of season sale so I found these letters 80% off!! The only problem was that I had to go to two different stores to find all of the letters I needed. I personally wanted metal letters (I was hoping for galvanized silver but I didn't want to jump through hoops driving to the different locations to find the letters I needed so I stuck with black.) but you can use wooden letters instead if you can't find metal.
To start, I laid my letters out to spell the word THANKS (other good, short words for fall would be: gather, harvest, autumn, and of course, fall). I wanted to get an idea for spacing and where exactly to make my marks for hanging my letters. Then, with a Sharpie, I marked where each part of the letter would hang so I knew where to nail. After that, I nailed a picture nail on each mark that I had made.
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So what do y'all think?? I was so happy with how this sign came out. The only thing that I would like to figure out though, is if there's a better way to hang the letters. Rob said you can't really effectively glue metal so unfortunately, every time I take the sign down to store it, I'll have to take the letters down as well. If anyone has tips or suggestions on how to successfully adhere the letters to the wood where they stay on permanently, I'm all ears!

Materials I used for this project:

  • Barn wood   (my backyard)
  • Fine grit sandpaper   (on hand)
  • Wire brush   (on hand)
See all materials

Ask the creator about this project

  • Penny Buxkler
    Penny Buxkler Forrest City, AR
    on Aug 14, 2016

    This is what I love to do! Thank you for all your information on making the wood last almost forever. The metal letters in black look absolutely wonderful. I'll be following you Rob and Courtney. You're my kindred spirits.

  • Hillela G.
    Hillela G.
    on Aug 15, 2016

    I love it!! It is so thoughtful!

  • Hannah V
    Hannah V Brooklyn, NY
    on Aug 15, 2016

    Amazing!

  • Rob & Courtney M, Hometalk Team
    Rob & Courtney M, Hometalk Team Brooklyn, NY
    on Aug 15, 2016

    Thanks so much! :)

  • Jeanne Martin
    Jeanne Martin Catawba, NC
    on Sep 1, 2016

    If the backs of the letters are hollow I would think you could glue in some type of filler to give you something to glue the letter to the board. The hollow area doesn't have to be filled, just some type of object the same depth as the letter (small blocks of wood?). Just my two cents!

    • Kathy Thomas
      Kathy Thomas Glennville, GA
      on Sep 1, 2016

      Save styrofoam from packages,cut to fit tight or glue into hollow space of letters, then glue to wood.

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