DIY Hand Painted Sign

3 Materials
2 Hours

I have seen these hand painted signs on various places online and wanted to give one a shot. This was a great opportunity to have my wife join me on this project since she loves painting and is really good at it. This project is a very simple project and you don’t have to have extreme painting skill to pull this off. I hope you enjoy it.

The first thing I had to do for this sign was prepare the board. I used a piece of walnut I had in the shop that was from my great grandfathers old wood pile. This sign was for my mom, so my goal was to find something from his old wood pile to use.

I first cut the board to rough length. I wasn’t quite sure how big the text would be on it yet, so I left it a little long and would cut it off later. After that I used a hand plane to flatten one side of the board, then use my table saw to flatten the other side. All of these steps are things I did because of the wood I was using.

You can use whatever kind of wood you want. You may or may not have to flatten the sides like this.

After this I sanded the board to 220 grit before the painting process.

Next I could design the template for the sign. I used Adobe photoshop to do this, but you can use any text editor to do the same thing. What I did was first find the font I liked and then I could enlarge the font across a few pages. This took several tries before I finally got the size to fit my board.

Once I got the correct fit, I used an exacto knife to cut out the letters. You could use scissors if you prefer but my font was very curvy so the exacto knife was a much better option for me.

Once I got everything cut out, I lined them up properly on the board and then used a few pieces of scotch tape to hold them in place. Next I traced the letters on to the board using a pencil. 

Once all of the letters were traced out on the board. It was time to paint the sign. I had some help from my wife for this part. She is really good at painting and she enjoys it. The first thing she did was use a chalk marker to trace on top of the pencil marks of the letters. This made it much easier when painting inside the lines and gave a much cleaner line. After tracing the entire thing out, then she used a small paint brush to fill in the letters. You can put on as many coats of paint as you want, but we only painted on one coat because we liked how the wood grain slightly came through the paint.

After the sign was painted, I had to cut off a little of once side of the board to even it up, and then I sanded the corners and edges a little bit using 220 grit sandpaper.

After this I put on several coats of spray shellac. I used this because It dries really quickly and it goes on pretty easy. It really made the walnut pop when I put this on the board.

After this you can add hanging hardware to the back if you would like. I didn’t do this but attaching the hardware is similar to a picture frame.

After this, the project was complete! Make sure to check out the video for the full how to experience and if you have any questions on the steps leave me a comment or send me a message. You can also find me around the web.

Web -

Twitter - @made_by_mitch

Instagram - @ made_by_mitch

YouTube -

Suggested materials:
  • Piece of wood 1x10 or similar
  • White paint   (Home Depot)
  • Spray Shellac   (Home Depot)
Made by Mitch
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • Joyce Joyce on Mar 17, 2019

    Which font did you use please. Looks great !

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3 of 29 comments
  • Audrey Heffner Audrey Heffner on Apr 22, 2019

    Instead of printing it out and tracing around, I just pencil the whole back of the paper and trace it directly from the taped-on paper, and instead of printing out black letters onto the paper, I convert the whole thing to outlines, so to conserve ink, and print it on the lightest setting.

    • Jill King Jill King on May 19, 2019

      That's how I do it too! Sometimes I rub over backside of printed letters with chalk, but have done it with pencil too. Then when you trace over the front side, the chalk or pencil makes a perfect outline of letters on the board.😁

  • Shelly Moore Shelly Moore on Apr 26, 2019

    You can also skip the copy paper all together 🙂 just print out design on regular [or re-used,} paper. Use a cheap/free pen and write around the outline of your letters. Press firmly so it makes a little indention that you can see when painting. No meticulous exacto knife necessary either. My go to hack. 😉