Learn how to make a wood sign with Cricut and a vinyl stencil in today's video & step-by-step tutorial. These are easy and fun to make, and the options for stain and paint colours are endless. Let's create a custom piece of art for your home!
I had a vision to create a wooden sign for the hallway in our little lake house rental. Underneath, I imagine hanging photos of the adventures people have had who have stayed here.
The Cricut is the perfect machine to make wooden signs with, so let me share with you how I made mine and how you can make your own wooden sign, too!
Watch my YouTube video below to learn how to make your own DIY wooden sign with Cricut:
Disclosure: The following video is sponsored by Cricut.
How to make a wood sign with Cricut:
- a piece of ½" thick plywood that's the desired size of your sign minus the frame
- 1x2 lumber that's long enough to cover the perimeter of your sign
- wood stain and/or paint
- Cricut (I'm using my Explore Air 2)
- stencil vinyl
- Mod Podge
- small paint brushes
- finishing nail gun & finishing nails
- fine grit sanding sponge (optional)
Making the sign
- Start with a piece of ½" plywood that is the desired size of your sign minus the frame. I was able to reuse a piece of wooden shelving from our lake house rental that was a great size for a sign. You can cut plywood yourself with a table saw, or have a piece cut for you at a home improvement store.
- Then, you can paint or stain your plywood to any colour you'd like. It's easier to paint the plywood a solid colour for your first sign so that you can easily make any touch ups at the end. For mine, I'm creating a DIY white wash with one part white chalk paint to one part water and lightly brushing that on my plywood. Wiping it off after creates a stained effect that will let my wood grain show through.
- Next, measure the sides of your plywood and cut two 1 x 2" pieces of lumber at that length with a miter saw. The sides of my sign were 16" and I'm using spruce wood from The Home Depot.
- Now you can measure the top your sign and add the depth of the two side frame pieces to that measurement. My sign was 42" wide, and my two side frame pieces were ¾" deep each, so my measurement was 42 + ¾ + ¾ = 43 ½". With a miter saw, cut two pieces of the 1x2 lumber to this length.
- If you wish, you can stain or paint your frame pieces and let them dry. I'm using a stain colour called Provincial for my frame pieces.
- After your sign pieces dry, prepare to glue and nail on the frame. You can either put the frame on so the back of it is flush with the back of the sign, or raise the plywood up a little with scrap pieces of wood so there's space behind the sign. I'm choosing to do the latter for my sign so that I can hang it from the wall off of the frame. If you do the first option, you can screw on some D-ring hangers to the back of your sign to hang it.
- Next, apply wood glue to the edges of your plywood. Position your frame pieces around your plywood, and use a finishing nailer to nail them firmly in place. Be careful to aim the nail gun into the center of the plywood so that the nails don't show on the front or back of the sign.
Creating the stencil design
- While your sign is drying, you can create your sign design in Cricut Design Space. Create a New Project, and then use the shape tool to create a rectangle that's the same size as your sign for reference. Now, you can play with Cricut's fonts to make a sign that's perfect for your space. I'm using the fonts Tango and Rockwell to make my design. You can also play with the letter spacing and line spacing to make your words look exactly the way you want them to.
- Once you have a design that you like, make sure to group all of the words together using the Attach tool on the bottom right. I'm attaching each word together, but not the entire design so that I can fit this large design on a 12 x 24" Cricut mat.
- Now, click "Make It" to send your design to your Cricut machine. At this point, you can adjust where you want each word on your mat to create your stencil. You can either choose to cut out vinyl for your sign and apply that directly to your sign, OR you can do what I'm doing for this sign and make a stencil with stencil vinyl and paint your letters. I like the stenciled look for something a little more rustic.
Stenciling the design onto the sign
- Use Cricut's Stencil vinyl and attach it to your mat. I'm using a fabric mat because it's the only one I have in the larger 12x24 size, but I'd recommend using the regular mat instead. Choose the "Custom" setting on your Cricut machine, and then search for the "Stencil Vinyl" on Design Space. This will tell your machine exactly what pressure to cut to get the perfect result on your stencil vinyl.
- Now, press Go and your Cricut will cut your stencil.
- Once your cut is complete, remove the vinyl from the mat and I like to cut each word out individually. Weed away any of the letters so that the stencil remains.
- Next, cut some transfer tape that's the same size as your first stencil piece and smooth it overtop of the vinyl. Transfer tape will help transfer your stencil perfectly to your plywood, and keep all the smaller sections like the insides of letters in the right place.
- You can refer to your design, mark out the center of your sign on the sign with a pencil, and determine where each stencil piece needs to be.
- Now, carefully remove the stencil attached to the transfer tape from its backing and press it in place on your wooden sign. Smooth it down onto the sign with Cricut's tool or a craft stick, and then carefully pull away the transfer tape. Repeat this process with the other stencil pieces until they're all in place. I like to reuse my transfer tape for each piece of my stencil so I'm not creating excess waste. You can use scraps of stencil vinyl if you want to cover more areas of your sign for painting.
- Now, here's my secret to preventing lots of bleed-through. Brush a thin layer of decoupage medium over the stencil before you paint it. This adds a little layer between your wooden sign and the paint so that you'll get a cleaner edge on your letters.
- After the decoupage medium has dried, carefully brush on 1-2 coats of paint letting the first coat dry before painting the second. I'm using acrylic paint, but you could use your favourite kind of paint instead.
- Once the paint is dry, it's my favourite part! Carefully remove the stencil vinyl to reveal your design. I was really happy with how crisp my letters looked on this sign. There were a couple of little bleed through areas, but I was able to touch those up with some paint.
You can leave your sign just like this, but I decided I wanted to make my sign look a little more vintage by distressing it. To distress your wooden sign, take some fine sandpaper, and sand over the letters. Use a soft cloth to wipe away any dust at the end.
Enjoy sign-making and stay tuned for more updates from the Little Lake House!