On one of my many late night trollings of etsy, I came across this awesome wood “hello” sign and thought, “I could never pull that off. But then again…..”. If you know me, you know that I just can’t buy anything I think I might be able to make myself. My phone is full of photos of random things I see in stores that I’m certain I can find a way to make. It’s not that I am cheap and want to save money; because sometimes those endeavors end up being more costly, especially considering the amount of time I spend on them. I just love that sense of pride that comes from saying, “oh that? yeah, I made that too”. :) And I love a good challenge. So when the weekend came, I was bound and determined to learn to use a jigsaw and make a wood sign of my own. Since I know there are folks out there who have a similar obsession with “selfmade”, I decided to share this quick tutorial!
a decent jigsaw with a blade for wood
adhesive vinyl and diecutter OR paper, a printer, and sharp scissors
a sturdy table and some clamps
fine grit sandpaper
spray primer (optional)
spray paint or acrylic craft paint in desired color
First off, gather your materials and have them inspected by a professional.
Once you’ve passed inspection/finished playing with your adorable Teeny Tiny, you’ll need a template to cut around. Most folks print their design out onto several sheets of paper, cut them out with sharp scissors, tape it all together, and then trace the shape onto their wood. I decided to save myself a couple steps and simply used my Cameo to cut the word from adhesive vinyl. I then stuck the vinyl right to my mdf. Sweet and simple. My finished sign ended up being about 11″ tall and 24″ long.
For the inside of the letters O & E, use the biggest drill bit you can find and drill a hole in the space you want to cut out. It doesn’t have to be huge – just big enough for your blade to get in and move around. You can also see that I drew a little tail to finish off the letter O.
Okay, so did anyone notice how I started with a full sheet of mdf and then half of it disappeared? That’s because I jacked up my first design. I tried to cut the word “home” – which has tons of curves, AND I cut my outline before I cut out the insides of the letters O & E. When I realized my mistake and tried to go back to those letters, the whole dang thing was shaking and vibrating like crazy and then this happened:
Bummer. The second time around, I switched to “hello” and was smart enough to call my darling husband in for assistance.
Our jigsaw wasn’t able to turn some of the tight curves, so my husband made several smaller cut just outside of the template and “ate away” at the mdf until he got into the curve tight enough. For more complicated or smaller pieces, we may need to upgrade our jigsaw, but this method worked great for this particular project. Or so I’m told by the man who did most of the work. Once your have the inside letters cut out you can start on your outline. Don’t feel like you have to follow the outline in one line as if you were writing it. Instead, come at it in different directions and angles. And yes, I’m aware that the focus of this photo isn’t the cutting. :)
Once you have your word cut out, it’s time to sand. I used a fine grit sandpaper to smooth over the entire outline and better define the edges. When Mike handed the sign to me for sanding he said, “be careful. If you break this, I am NOT cutting another one.” So even though it’s pretty sturdy and I knew he would cut it again, I was careful. :)
It’s time to prime and paint. In the materials list, I said that primer is optional. I prime ALL my bigger projects, since I never really know how well the paint will stick and stay. It might be unnecessary at times, but I’d rather do an extra step that I don’t need, than skip a step I did need. I gave the mdf a light prime with Krylon spray primer and then lightly sanded to smooth out the texture. I also noticed a few tiny pits in the mdf that I filled with some white wood putty.
Now paint! I decided to use regular craft paint for this, since I had the color I wanted on hand and I thought I could get into the letters better with a foam brush than I could with spray paint. I’m considering hanging this sign on the outside of our house near the door when our new siding is up, and if I do, I’ll have to give it a good coat of sealer. But for now I think it’ll look great on my summer mantle – which is looking pretty bare at the moment. Either way, I’m super proud of how this turned out!
I love it. It makes me smile every time I look at it, even though it’s not exactly “selfmade”. (Thank you Mike.) Now I’m thinking we need these signs in every room……