United States Rustic Sign

In honor of the 4th of July, I want to share one of my favorite crafts, to date.  It is  pallet sign that, I think, would go well in anyone’s home.



My mom saw this fabric that had the American flag in the shape of the United States.  The background looked like old wood.  She had commented to me how much she loved it and I made a mental note.  (Actually, I put it in my phone.  I have a list of gift ideas for people in my “Notes”.)    For her birthday, I decided to try and mimic that material but do it on pallet wood as a sign so that she could hang it in her home.  This is a relatively easy project and can be done quickly.  The hardest part for me was painting the stars (so small).  I added the “Home of the free because of the brave” because I knew she would like it even more and so do I.  I hand delivered the sign to my mom in June when my nephew graduated from high school.  My sister loved it so I decided to make a second one and send it to her for her birthday and she would have it for the 4th.  She called this morning and said she received it so I'm not ruining the surprise by posting this today.



Wood glue



Sand paper

Computer, printer, paper

Copy paper

Craft paint

Paint pens



Step 1

Find the wood you would like to use.  For me, it was pallet wood all the way.  I wanted the rustic feel and I didn’t want to worry about squaring everything up. 

I decided that I would make the sign 20” x 30” so I cut nine (9) boards to the length of 20”.  This didn’t measure exactly to 30” but it was close and the exact dimensions don’t really matter.  Just decide how big you want it based on where it is going to go. For my mom's sign, I used two different widths of pallet wood (which made the sign closer to 36" wide).  For the second sign, I didn’t have any of the wider plank wood left so I used all of the same size (3 ½” wide).   It made the second sign a bit smaller but still looks great and weighs less since I shipped it.  I do like the wider planks better since there are less seems (where two pieces of wood join together), which makes it easier to paint.



My sisters sign with the equal width boards. Sorry, picture shows already sanded and stained. I forget to take pictures! In fact, if it wasn't for my husband constantly reminding me, I wouldn't have any pictures!






This is the first sign, for my mom. Notice different board widths.  I also like to alternate lighter and darker wood, as well as the nails.



Step 2

Glue your boards together and clamp until dry completely (at least 24 hours).  I didn’t have a clamp big enough to span the 30” so I just used a scrap piece of wood that spanned the back and screwed it in so it would hold all the pieces tightly together.  The first one I made I used two 1x2’s about 34” long.  I didn’t care for how it stuck so far off the wall so for my sister's, I used a piece of wainscoting about 6”x 30”.  This was a lighter option (weight) and it should lay on the wall better.  I have used an entire piece of wood to cover the back of a clock I made so that it doesn’t stick out but this can really add to the weight and you can see that piece of wood from the side all the way around the item (which I do not like).  It was a necessary evil so I could inset the clock mechanism and it could lay flush against the wall. 






Edges of boards glued. These were glued with gorilla glue. I strongly recommend regular wood glue. I had ran out and so used as a substitute but it foams and seems to squish out more.




Larger flat piece of thin wood to keep the sign together.  (This is a different sign but the concept holds true for the US sign).




Back of my Mom's sign.  Another way to keep boards together.



Step 3

Sand and stain (or paint) your sign.  I chose to stain my flag signs.   I think it sets out the shape and colors of the US flag better than a painted one would. 

Allow stain to dry.


Step 4

Find the image you want.  Here is the one that I used. 






Lay out 81/2 x 11” sheets of paper on your sign and see how many it takes to cover.  Mine took 2 sheets (vertically) by 4 sheets (horizontal) so 8 sheets total.  Go to BlockPosters.com (it’s free) and upload your image.  It will ask you how many pieces of paper you need and will then covert your image to that size so you have a poster.  It will tell you how large your poster will be, which is nice so you can double check yourself.  Your sheets of paper don’t always fit evenly so you may have some of them that hang over the edges of your sign and you can make sure that your image will still fit.  This is especially nice when you want the image to take up as much of your sign as possible.  With the flag sign, I wanted a little extra room so that I could add the phrase “Land of the Free because of the Brave”.  Download your large image (I save it to my “craft” folder so I can recreate the craft easily) and print.  Tape them all together cutting off extra blank areas, as needed.  I used transparent tape.  Masking tape or duct tape is too heavy and you can’t see through it to do the next step.  I used the same print out of my poster image for both signs and just added new copy paper to the back of it after the first one.  I intend to make this sign a few more times and will use the same print out (saves time and paper).




Notice the copy sheets under the poser image and the white of the copy paper is up (black side goes on the wood to transfer the carbon).




Step 5

Once you have your poster all put together you will lay out copy paper on your sign and tape it together.  Lay your poster size image on top of the copy paper and tape both to the sign.  I like to trim the copy paper and poster image so that I can lay it out and have an accurate idea of what it will look like. 





Step 6

Trace your image with a pen.  I like to use a ball-point pen as it seems to transfer better than a pencil.  Once your image is traced, remove your image and copy paper one area at a time and check to make sure that it has all transferred or that you didn’t miss any areas.  By removing small sections at a time, you should be able to lay the image back down and trace areas that didn’t transfer. 


This is what the carbon looks like on wood. This picture is from another sign I did (since I forgot to take  a picture).


Step 7


Adding the words and trying to figure out the placement I want.

For the words, I just pull up Word and change the font and size to what I like and follow steps five and six.  For this sign, I used “Kunstler Scrip” for “Land” and “Brave” (size 180 for the “L” and the “B” and 160 for the other letters).  I like the first letters to be larger.  For “Free” I used “Baskerville Old Face” (110).  The remainder of the verse I used “Blackadder ITC” (72).  I like this font and think the entire verse would look good in it.  I like to do the words after I do Step 8. 





Step 8

Paint!  I use craft paint but for a lot of my projects I use paint pens.  I like Sharpie brand the best, especially for wood projects.  The paint flows better and the tip seems to be a little more durable.  For this sign, I used craft paint for the stripes and for the blue.  For the stars, I used a paint pen.  Sharpie makes red, white and blue pens but I didn’t care for the red and blue pen colors for my signs.  Since I struggle with intentional tremors, my daughter usually helps me with the little detail painting.  Occasionally, I will have a drink and that helps with the tremors so I can do the detailed work myself but I do enjoy spending that time with my daughter and she loves to be “crafty” too and is wicked talented.  Once you have it all painted, sand the entire sign again.  This is an optional step, but I like it to look like the sign is weathered and has stood the test of time.  I don’t sand the words, as I want them read easily. 

I bought a different type of paint pens because they were cheaper than Sharpie. I will spend a few extra bucks next time to get Sharpie brand.



Step 9

Lastly, cover the entire sign with a few coats of poly.  I like to use the spray can poly so there are no brush marks and no clean up.  Stuff is awesome. 

Mom's sign. Just a little different than my sister's.

 Happy 4th of July.  I hope you enjoy this project.


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