Have you ever wondered how in the world those people on Pinterest get such perfect lettering on a wooden sign? Are they just exceptionally talented in being able to free-hand letters with paint? Some of them probably are, and hip-hip-hooray for them, but I am not one of those people, so I needed to work around such an inhibition.
After all, I want pretty custom signs in my house! Why should my inabilities handicap me?!
Enter the strategy I’m about to show you. I learned this a few years ago, and I am so thankful I did! I’ve used this technique for so many of my handmade items!
Before we begin making this easy hand-painted cabinet door sign, I really need to ask for your forgiveness. This tutorial is, um, well, let’s see, what do they call it…
As I was preparing the post, I realized I completely forgot to take pictures of a few steps (all of the materials, painting and staining the cabinet door, attaching the hanging hardware on the back of the cabinet, gluing the flourishes on at the end). I made this sign for my dear friend Erica’s baby girl back in March, and I guess I was too excited to make it and give it to her that I forgot to take some important pictures. How descriptive can my language get in order to compensate for the lack of photos?
Please forgive me. Let’s get started and work with what we have!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Cabinet door (Preferably unfinished; if you don’t already have an old one lying around your garage, I know that Habitat For Humanity ReStores have tons. You can also check your local woodshop to see if they have any they’re not going to use.)
- Acrylic paint (for the cabinet border and for the lettering)
- Wood stain (for the “display” part of the cabinet door)
- Sandpaper (if you need to sand the door down at all before painting)
- Thick paintbrushes for the stain and for the cabinet border
- Very thin paintbrush for the lettering
- Paper with the lettering you want to transfer onto the wood (I print out the designed wording onto regular printer paper – works just fine)
- Picture-hanging hardware for the back of the cabinet
- Wooden flourishes (optional)
- Acrylic paint for wooden flourishes (optional)
- Hot glue to attach wooden flourishes (optional)
Before I got to this step in the following picture, I stained the wood in the display area of the cabinet and painted the border with acrylic paint. I did do a little taping on the cabinet door in order to prevent paint/stain from getting into areas they weren’t supposed to be!
Side note: My cabinet door was unfinished (no stain or paint on it prior to me using it), but if you have a cabinet that does have stain or paint, you’ll want to sand it down first.
After the paint on the cabinet door dried, I got out my paper with lettering, chalk, and a pen. (For the paper with lettering: I designed this layout below in Adobe Illustrator using fun fonts I have installed on my computer. If you don’t have the Adobe Suite, you can do this same concept in Microsoft PowerPoint or Microsoft Word!)
Turn the paper with the lettering on it upside down and cover the back of the paper with chalk. Just color all over the back of the page with chalk. You can’t tell I did it here because white chalk on white paper doesn’t show up in photographs so well, but I promise, it’s there!
Turn the paper over again and center it (or place it wherever you want the letters to show up) on your cabinet door.
Hold down the paper onto the door (don’t let it slip and slide) and, using the pen, begin coloring in the letters on the paper. I never use tape to secure the paper, but you can use some painter’s or masking tape on the edges of the paper if you feel like you need some help keeping it in place. As you’re tracing the letters, you want to make sure you’re pressing down firmly with the pen onto the paper so that the chalk will transfer from the paper onto the wood. Does that make sense?
Keep going…this will take a little while, but I promise, it WILL BE WORTH IT!
You can carefully, WITHOUT moving the paper’s positioning, peek underneath to make sure the letters are transferring well onto the wood. You want to make sure the letters transfer well enough that you can trace the chalked letters with paint.
This is what it’ll look like when you’re done tracing the paper onto the cabinet door! I know, it looks like a mess, but don’t worry – it’ll clean up in a snap.
I usually use a thin and firm paintbrush for this portion. Carefully trace the letters with acrylic paint. This part doesn’t take anywhere near as long as it does to transfer the letters onto the wood with chalk!
Once the painted lettering dries, take a damp cloth and wipe off any excess chalk. It should come right off!
If you’re adding hardware to the back to hang the sign, go ahead and nail in the hardware now. (I used one of these from Hobby Lobby, but you can get these sawtooth hangers several places – hardware stores or Walmart!) I just used one on the back – I nailed it in at the top in the middle of the cabinet door.
You don’t have to do this, but I love adding a little color to these signs with wooden flourishes. You can buy them in packs of 2 at Hobby Lobby for only $2! I painted them and then fixed them to the door using hot glue. Easy!
This project takes some time, but I’ve made SEVERAL signs using this same technique, and it’s worked for me every single time with no issues! Such a fun, custom gift for someone or to bring some beauty into your own home, and it’s also very cost-effective!
Go bless someone or bless your own home with some handmade loveliness!