Sign making: from start to finish


This project is a sign for a baby's bedroom, in which I used all the new skills I've recently learned: how to create and apply stencils, how to cut wood using a scroll saw, as well as wood burning.

Sign design

Creating the design

I usually prefer getting to know the client and what they have in mind, this helps me create a more personalized design. I also request pictures and/or the color theme of the baby's room. When I feel I have a good idea about what they want, I then create my design using Artflow (my favourite drawing program) on my phone. Next, I run it by the client to make sure they are happy with it and to solicit any additional feedback.

Cutting the wood

I normally use 1/4 inch Birch plywood for the sign. Using my handy scroll saw, I cut an 18" round circle for my sign, sanding the edges for a smooth finish. Next, I apply a dark brown stain (espresso) to the surface for a rich, dark finish. I let that dry fully, usually overnight.


Create stencil

Creating the stencil

Now it's time to create some stencils! Using my Silhouette cutting machine software, I import my design and trace it to create the cut lines. Then I cut the design on 12x12 blank stencil sheets. These stencil sheets are made of Mylar plastic and can be easily cleaned with soap and water, so they are reusable for multiple projects!

Painting stencil by hand

Applying the stencil

Next step, applying the stencils to the sign. I apply a light tack spray to the stencil, which holds it in place and prevents bleeds while I am applying the paint. Make sure not to have too much paint on your brush/sponge while working ... I find using just a little paint, dabbing and applying multiple coats, works best. When you're satisfied with the paint application, now you're ready for the big reveal ... lift the stencil slowly to avoid smudging. if all went well, you'll have a beautiful, bleed-free application of your design on the front of your baby's room sign!

Finished baby sign


I let the paint dry and then apply a couple coats of varathane to seal and protect the design.

Special message on back

Wood burning

And now for something a little personal: I use my wood burning pen to burn a short message (something special from the client) onto the back of the sign. Something their little girl will find and treasure when she grows up.

I hope you found this helpful and that it inspires you to make your own sign!

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