How is it already Halloween!? As I was decorating the front of our house for trick-or-treaters, my mind was already jumping ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas decor. What I came up with is this reversible wood holiday sign for my mantel–for a total cost of about $5!
Here are the tools you’ll need for this one:
- (1) 1×2 board, 8′ long
- (3) 3.5″ cedar fence pickets, 5′ long
- 1.5″ wood screws
- Wood stain *optional
- Give Thanks stencil (free printable)
- Joy stencil (free printable)
- Chalk **optional
- White paint
- Paint brushes
Building the Wood Holiday Sign
I chose cedar fence pickets for a several reasons: they are CHEAP (less than $1 each), their wood grain is more interesting than pine (IMO), they have a rustic texture, AND they are lightweight. They also smell pretty good too! You can use any kind of wood that you want for this project, really, but keep in mind that you will need to use longer screws if, for example, you choose a standard 1×4 instead of the cedar pickets. (The pickets are 1/2″ thick but a 1×4 is 3/4″ thick.) For the purposes of this tutorial, I’m going to assume that you are using cedar pickets.
ANYWAY, back to the project. You’ll need to chop the tops of the pickets off, because they come with one end “dog-eared.” After that is done, cut each board in half so that you end up with (6) pieces about 30.5″ long. Your cedar is ready! For the 1×2, cut (4) pieces that are 20.5″ long each. You’ll be left with a scrap piece about 13.5″ inches long. If you don’t own a saw, you can have someone at the home improvement store make these cuts for you before you leave. Now lay your boards out like this:
Remember that this sign will be reversible, so you should put your other two 1×2 pieces on the underside. Line up the edges of all boards in the top corner and, using a 1/8″ drill bit (or whatever size suits your screws), drill a hole through the 1×2 and the cedar and into the bottom 1×2. DO NOT go all the way through the bottom 1×2; your screw will only go partially into this bottom board. This pilot hole will prevent all of these thin pieces of wood from splitting when you screw them together. Finally, drive a screw into the hole you just made and then repeat on the other 3 corners of the sign. I put a thin layer of wood glue on my end boards before screwing them together to add a little bit more stability.
Next, turn your sign over. You will do the same drill/screw process here, except on the middle boards instead of the corner boards (since those are already secure from the other side). I only screwed in two of the boards on this side because the pressure of the 1x2s is enough to keep the other boards in place. You can do as many screws as you want here. Don’t drill into the corner boards though!
Give both sides of the board a light sanding. Again, cedar has a naturally rough texture so you will not be able to get it completely smooth.
Painting the Wood Holiday Sign
To begin decorating this awesome sign that you’ve just built, get out your wood stain. I used a lighter stain for the “Give Thanks” side of my sign (Minwax Weathered Oak) and a darker stain for the “Joy” side of my sign (Minwax Dark Walnut). *You do not need to stain your board at all if you prefer the natural color. This step is optional.
While your stain is drying, print out the Give Thanks stencil and the Joy stencil. Tape the pieces of paper together to form the stencil. Make sure to tape on the FRONT side. One at a time, lay each stencil on your board. Trim the edges of the paper as needed to get the phrase to fit on the center of your board.
Side note: It is OKAY if your printer adds a small white border around each piece of the stencil (like mine did). This will not affect the proportions of the letters.
Next, turn your stencils over and fill the backside in with chalk. If you can see through the paper, you only need to cover the areas with writing.
Then, set your stencil (chalk side down) back onto the wood sign. Using a pen, trace over the printed letters. The goal here is to use pressure to transfer the chalk onto the wood. When you lift up the paper, you should see a faint outline of the letters like this:
Continue this process until all of the letters have been transferred to the sign.
**I found that the chalk outline was most helpful on the dark side of the sign. On the lighter stained side, my pen left a slight indent in the wood that I was able to use as a guide rather than chalk. It was harder to see the indent on the darker stained side, so I relied on chalk. If you are able to find this indent and use it this way, then the chalk step is not necessary.
Finally, paint your sign using white paint and your chalk outlines. Once dry, dust off any excess chalk. Repeat on the opposite side.
Your wood holiday sign is done! I love inexpensive multi-season decor 🙂