Spring is a time of year us northerners are always looking forward too. I know when I see those first signs of life in the sunniest part of my yard that the countdown is on. Especially with lockdowns and restrictions across the country, a little bit of warm weather would be much appreciated by all. This sign was inspired by spring and a bit of Easter whimsy.
I tried to build this sign as simply as possible to avoid the need for too many power tools. I wanted you to be able to build it using whatever saw you have (table saw, miter saw, circular saw). I used dimensional lumber and designed the project using Sketchup and Cricut Design Space. A beginner woodworker could definitely tackle this project.
- 1 – 6’ long 1×2 – I bought select pine and used about 4‘
- 1 – 6’ long 1×10 – I bought select pine and only used about 1’ (If you don’t want to buy a bunch of extra wood you could always use plywood for this instead, or laminate two pieces of 1×6 together for the same dimensions)
- Sand paper or sanding disks – I used 80, 120, 150, and 220 grit sanding disks and 400 grit sand paper
- Sanding block (optional, but handy)
- Wood glue – I use Titebond 2
- 1 1/2” brad nails
- Tack Cloth
- Wood conditioner – I used the Varathane one
- Stain – I used Varathane wood stain in special walnut
- Paint – I used Behr Semigloss paint in white for the frame, Apple Barrel matte acrylic craft paints in yellow flame, new shamrock, and jack-o-lantern for the carrot design, and Rustoleum spray paint in white for the lettering (you could use whatever combination of these you have had success with)
- Stencil vinyl – I used Oracal Oramask 813 (you could also use any adhesive vinyl for this)
- Transfer tape – I used Cricut regular grip transfer tape
- Painters tape
- Sealer – I used Minwax Polycrylic (shellac, spray laquer, and polyurethane would also work for this)
- Wood filler (optional) – I used Elmer’s paintable and stainable wood filler
*Note* be aware that dimensional lumber doesn’t actually meet the dimensions it is sold as. My 1×10 actually measured 3/4″x9 3/16″ and my 1×2 actually measured 3/4″x1 1/2″. Be sure to measure your wood and adjust the plan to your exact dimensions.
- Safety equipment – mask with filters for dust and other filters for fumes, eye protection, hearing protection
- Measuring Tape
- Speed square
- Miter saw – any saw that can cut 45 degree angles would work ie: table saw, circular saw
- Table saw – I used this to cut the 1×10 to length because my miter saw only does 6″, but if yours is a sliding saw it would definitely be able to cut this. You could also use a circular saw or even a radial arm saw for this.
- Router (optional)
- 45 degree chamfer bit (optional)
- Random Orbital Sander – you could also just use a sanding block or sand paper
- Shop Vac (Optional)
- Brad Nailer – you could also use a good old fashioned hammer and finishing nails for this
- Clamps – I used this adjustable corner clamp strap
- Shop rags – for staining
- Paint brushes – for the carrot design I used a sponge brush
- Cutting machine – I used my Cricut Maker
- Cutting mat
Download My Sketchup PDF Plan
Start Building the Sign
Step 1 Make a cut list or print the pdf of my sketchup file (you may need to adjust dimensions slightly based on your wood)
Step 2 Cut the board that will be the face of the sign. Using the table saw and miter gauge I cut my 1×10 to length to make it a square. Mine measured 9 3/16″ by 9 3/16″. You could definitely cut this board on your miter saw if it’ll allow for that width, mine is older and only cuts 6″ width.
I first cut off a 1 1/2’ section using the miter saw (two cuts, flipping the board – doesn’t make for the nicest edge) of the board to make it easier to cut on the table saw, then I measured it to 9 3/16”.
I took that piece to the table saw, squared up the rough edge and cut it to length.
My final piece measuring 9 3/16” by 9 3/16”. Make sure you measure your piece after cutting it to be sure your frame will fit. You don’t want to go through the trouble of making a frame for a piece that it won’t fit around (trust me, I’ve done this).
Step 3 Next, cut the 1×2 frame pieces. There is an easy way to calculate the measurement of the long sides and the short sides (to ensure that your angle is accurate). The inside edge will be the length of the board you are framing. In this case, my board was a 9 3/16″ square, so the inside edge will need to measure 9 3/16″. To calculate the length of the outside edge you add the width of the frame multiplied by 2 (because you’re cutting a 45 degree miter on both sides of the piece) to the length of the inside edge.
inside edge = length of the piece you are framing
(width of frame x 2) + length of the inside edge = length of the outside edge
In this case, the width of the frame is the thickness of a 1×2: 3/4″
So, the length of the outside edge is (3/4″x2)+9 3/16″ = 10 11/16″
Now, I realize that these fractions aren’t exactly great to add and multiply, unless you’re excellent at math, so I use this fraction calculator on my iphone. I’m sure there is an android equivalent as well.
It’s not 100% necessary to do this math, you could just eyeball it and it will likely be fine, but if you want your angles to be as accurate as possible, that’s the way to go. Also this doesn’t account for any dados or rabbets, so if you’re using those your calculation would change.
To cut the frame pieces I first cut a piece off my 1×2 about 6″ from the edge. The cut I made was at a 45 degree angle so I could use this piece as a stop block to make my pieces the exact same length.
Next, I measured my angle from inside edge to inside edge (9 3/16″) and outside edge to outside edge (10 11/16″) and drew the angle using the 45 degree side of my speed square as above. Then I cut this piece to length, ensuring that my angles were both facing the correct way to fit the frame. Also make sure you cut the pieces on their edge, so the width of the frame is 3/4″
I ended up with a piece that looked like this and fit my face board perfectly. Now to cut 3 pieces the same as the one above.
I set up a stop block using the piece I cut earlier. To do this, lock the blade down and line up the side block with the frame piece you already cut. This method will allow you to cut the other pieces to this exact length easily. It also ensures that your angles are all facing the right direction, just make sure you set up the initial piece and stop block correctly. Once the stop block is in the right place, clamp it securely to your fence.
line the stop block up with the initial frame piece between the block and the blade.
Now that your stop block is set up correctly, remove your first frame piece and cut your next three pieces.
Now you’ll have something that looks like this:
Double check that the frame fits together nicely around the face board and trim if any pieces are too long, but you’ll want to be very careful doing this as it could result in a gap in your frame.
Step 4 Sand your frame pieces, but don’t sand the edges much. In this stage I mostly focus on just sanding the faces. I lightly sand the edges by hand using a sanding block and I don’t sand the mitered edges because I don’t want to take off too much and make a gap in my frame. Sand the face board from 80 to at least 150 grit. After sanding I like to vacuum off the pieces with a shop vac and wipe off any remaining dust with a tack cloth.
Step 5 Optional: I did a 45 degree chamfer around the edge of my face board with my edge router to add a bit of flare and change things up. I often use plywood for my signs so I don’t usually do this, but because this sign is solid wood it was a really nice added detail.
Step 6 Wood Condition the face board, wait at least 30 minutes and then stain the board. Wood conditioning preps the wood for stain and really does improve the look of your piece after staining. I used Varathane special walnut for this step. Make sure you let the stain soak in for as long as it says on the can before wiping off the excess. This was my result after 2 coats.
Step 7 Paint the frame pieces now if desired. I used Behr semigloss paint in the generic white colour it comes in for this. I decided to paint them at this time because I didn’t want to have to paint the inside edge after the sign was assembled and risk getting paint on my design or the stained surface. I left a gap at the bottom of each piece where the face board meets the frame to improve glue adhesion. I’m not sure if that is really necessary, but I didn’t want to weaken the glue bond. I should have also left the mitered joints raw, but I forgot to. Keep in mind if you’re painting at this stage you will likely need to touch it up a bit at the end after assembly.
Step 8 24 hours after staining I decided to do a light coat of polycrylic to provide a smooth surface for my cricut stencils. I let that dry overnight and then lightly sanded the surface smooth by hand with 400 grit sandpaper and wiped off the dust with a tack cloth.
Step 9 Prepare the design for the face board. I like to do this before assembly because I don’t have to work around the frame. I Created this design in Cricut Design Space using fonts that I purchased on Etsy and public domain clipart. Because of this I couldn’t share the cricut file.
The fonts I purchased for this design are peachyday and silverglow. You can find these on Etsy here.
The following links are for the images I created for this sign. You can save them as images and then upload them into Cricut design space or any other cutting software. All you have to do to turn them into cut files is remove the background. Then you can resize them to fit the dimensions of your sign.
The images are in different files so you can cut them on different colours or make stencils to fill in the areas with different colours more conveniently.
I used the carrot bottoms first. I did them separately from the text because I wanted to spray paint my text on because I usually get better results and less bleeding that way with lettering. If you want to hand paint the whole sign then it would work well for you to use the complete sign file.
In Cricut Design Space, or your cutting software of choice, upload the images above as cut files. Then insert squares the size of your face board. In my case: 9 3/16″ by 9 3/16″. Scale the images to fit the squares and ensure that all the pieces line up. To create my sign I used the Full Carrots and the Text Only images separately, but you can use whichever variation you are comfortable with.
With my carrots sized correctly and ready to go I cut them out of my Oracal Oramask Stencil Vinyl. I got a large roll of it quite a while ago on amazon. If you are concerned about wasting vinyl you could always use a square that just fits around the carrots and then measure to center it on your sign. I just like to do it this way with layered signs because it makes lining everything up way easier.
Next I centered my cutout onto my board and weeded out the carrots. I honestly should have weeded my vinyl first, but I was eager to get to painting. Ensure that the design is very well adhered to the surface, especially around the edges of the carrots. I like to use my brayer and scraper for this.
Step 10 Finally it’s time to paint on the design. I like to use a sponge brush. The one I have in the picture is an old one from Michaels Craft Store. It works really nicely for small designs like this. I did the carrot tops and bottoms at the same time. You could print separate vinyl sheets and do them one at a time, but I was able to sponge them on carefully one at a time and then touch up the border line after with a small paintbrush.
First I did the carrot tops. I mixed the green and yellow paint and lightly sponged on my first layer. You want your layers to be extremely light to prevent bleeding and to have a quicker dry time. I waited until the layer just lost its shine (which was really fast because the paints are matte) and then did my next layer. I did about 5 layers in total. Below is how light my first layer was.
Next I cleaned my brush and did the same process with the carrot bottoms, trying not to go too high on the border between the carrot tops and bottoms. Then I touched up the spot between the tops and bottoms with a small paintbrush and let them dry for a few minutes.
Finally the moment of truth: I peeled off my vinyl and ended up with a really good result. There was a tiny bit of bleeding around one of the carrot tops. I just gently scraped it with my weeding tool and most of it came off.
I let that dry for around 8 hours, then I put on another light coat of polycrylic because I wanted to protect my design from the next layer of vinyl when I painted on the lettering. I let it dry overnight.
The next morning I cut out the lettering on the same Oracal Oramask Stencil Vinyl, making sure to check that the design lined up with the size of my face board and the carrot design that was already on the sign. I weeded the lettering and applied my transfer tape only to the letters that had inside pieces I wanted to keep, like the Ps and Os. I do this to save my transfer tape.
Place the stencil onto your sign carefully, making sure that the letters line up over the carrots and are reasonably centered. I put painters tape around the perimeter of the design because I wanted to spray paint the lettering on. Use your scraper or a credit card to ensure the stencil and painters tape are adhered well.
I did 6 light coats of spray paint waiting 5-10 minutes between coats (just until the paint loses it’s shine). After I was happy with the opacity I waited 10 minutes and then carefully peeled off my stencil.
Honestly the sign looked really good without the frame, but I wanted to add it for the extra detail and I love the contrast between white paint and stained wood. At this point you could wait for the paint to dry completely and then add another coat of polycrylic. I chose not to because I find spray paint quite durable once cured and the acrylic paint was already sealed.
Step 10 Now it’s time to assemble your sign. I gathered my wood glue, corner band clamp, brad nailer and brad nails. I applied wood glue liberally to the sides of the frame that will be attached to the face board as well as the mitered joints. I carefully put them in place and then tightened my clamp around them. I waited for them to dry for 30 minutes and then did 2 – 1 1/2 brad nails per side to secure it in place.
Next I used a nail set to sink in any shallow nails, lightly sanded the corners that weren’t quite perfect and used wood fill to fill any imperfections. After the wood fill was dry I used my sanding block to sand the filled spots smooth, dusted them off and touched up the paint.
Now your sign is complete and ready to display for Easter or just to celebrate the coming of spring and the warmer months. Perfect for the front door, the mantle, or any shelf in your home. Enjoy and give yourself a pat on the back for creating something with your own two hands!
Thanks for sharing this detailed tutorial!
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Wow, that is detailed and looks beautiful. Great job Stephenie. 👌
Thank you! 😊