What do I do first?
Sand it, stain or paint it, apply whatever wording/design you want and then apply an exterior sealer.
I cut and sand my pieces of wood first. Then I paint the boards white or stain and seal the boards. This gives the boards a smooth surface to paint on, but still allows for about any hangers you like. Jewell
Hi Martine: After cutting your wood, use a weather proofing on it like Thompson's Waterproofing to protect it so it will last longer. Just a thin coat and do the sides and ends. Then I'd make a design on a piece of paper that's the size of the sign so that you get the dimensions right, transfer the design once you are happy with it (you can use carbon paper) and then proceed to paint or stain your design. Be careful with the stain for the wording though, it may bleed sideways. Do a practice letter on a scrap piece of wood first. Then, put on a polyurethane or some other clear coat to protect it. Good luck