Complete with hand cut numbers and diagonal slats
I was commissioned to make this sign for a friend’s front entrance. I based the design off of a sign I made for my own home about a year ago. I altered the design based for her space and added a slightly different style, but I think it came together beautifully.
This one is mine from a year or so ago.
This sign would work vertically or horizontally and actually comes together pretty quickly. There’s also some room for error with the measurements as long as you cut pieces too long rather than too short. You can trim away any excess at the end to make the sides flush.
- 2 – 6’ 1×2 boards – I used select pine. You could also just rip a larger board to this width.
- 1 – 8’ 1×4 – I ripped mine to 2” wide
- 3/8” plywood – I used a 27 1/2” by 8 1/2” piece
- 1×6 (to cut the numbers) – I used a 10” piece of 1×10, but any 3/4” thick piece of wood will work
- Wood glue – I use Titebond II
- CA glue (optional) – I used the KMS brand cyanoacrylate (CA) glue
- Wood conditioner – I use the Varathane one
- Stain – I used Varathane Ultimate stain in Willow Grey
- Sand paper/Sanding discs – I used 120, 150, 180 and 220 grit
- Sanding block (optional)
- Painter’s tape
- Paint – I used Rustoleum spray paint in black for the frame and numbers
- Finish/Sealer – I used spray lacquer
- Nails – I used 1 1/2” 16g brad nails
- Card stock – to make a stencil for the numbers
- 2 – d ring hangers – I use these ones
- Safety equipment – Eye protection, respiratory protection, hearing protection
- Measuring tape
- Speed square
- Table saw – (or circular saw) to cut the plywood and to square up the sign after placing the slats
- Miter saw – to cut the slats and frame
- Scroll saw – to cut the numbers you could also use a band saw, jig saw, or buy the numbers
- Random orbit sander (or hand sander/sanding block)
- Belt sander (optional)
- Spindle sander (optional)
- Shop rag – for wood conditioning and staining
- Paint brush – for hand painting if not using spray paint
- Nailer or hammer
- Cricut – I used this to make a stencil for the numbers (you could also just print them and cut them out yourself or use the inkjet transfer method)
- Cutting mat – if using a cricut to make a stencil
- Shop vac – to clean the dust from your pieces
- Clamps – I used quick grip clamps and a 4 corner strap clamp.
Step 1 Make a cut list, or download my sketchup file and print it off.
For some of the smaller diagonal slats it’s fine to just do a rough estimate as long as they are a bit too long (rather than too short) you can just keep one side flush and then trim the uneven side on the table saw afterwards.
Step 2 Cut the 3/8” plywood to the dimensions of your sign.
Be sure to take into account the width of the frame when determining your final measurements for your space. The frame will cover the edges of your plywood.
I ripped my plywood to a width of 8 1/2” on the table saw.
Next I cut it to 27 1/2” long on the miter saw. I had to make 2 cuts because my miter saw doesn’t cut very wide.
Step 3 Begin cutting your slats. I started with the slat that stretches from the top left corner down. It measured 12”. I tend to start with this slat as it keeps the others all straight.
I cut a piece of 1×2 at a 45 degree angle on one side and then measured from one side 12”, marked it and then drew an angle using the 45 degree side of my speed square.
For most of the slats the angles will go the same direction. The next 8 slats also measured 12” so I cut them too.
Step 4 Once I had these first slats cut, I began gluing them down as I wanted to be able to easily visualize and measure the slats that would be different sizes with different angles.
I laid out the pieces I had so far.
I added a few drops of CA glue over the wood glue.
I carefully placed the first slat, lining it up with the top left corner and then held it in place until the CA glue set.
Then I worked my way down, using wood glue and CA glue to secure the 12” slats.
The CA glue cures rapidly, preventing the piece from moving while the wood glue sets. This really helps with a piece like this.
Step 5 Once those first pieces were in place I began measuring and confirming the angles I would need to cut for the smaller pieces.
This is how I roughly drew some of the angles for the smaller pieces.
I did these one at a time, giving myself extra room. I kept the left side of the piece flush while leaving the overhang on the right.
This is because I wanted one even side to keep against the table saw fence when I squared everything up at the end.
I glued them down like the first pieces as I went. When I was finished it looked something like this:
There is some overhang on one side, it’s just hard to see from this angle.
I left it to dry overnight.
Step 6 The next morning I squared up all the sides, just taking a tiny bit off the sides that had overhang. In the end this piece measured 8 7/16 by 27 7/16. So I lost 1/16 in each direction.
Step 7 Next, cut the frame. I wanted the frame to be 2” thick and 3/4” wide, so I ripped a 1×4 to 2”.
At this point you need to double check the measurement of the face of the sign.
Mine was 8 7/16” by 27 7/16”. So the short (inside) side of my frame pieces would be 8 7/16” long for the top and bottom and the inside of the sides would be 27 7/16” long.
I like to measure the long (outside) side of my mitred frame pieces because it’s easier to get an accurate measurement with the tape measure. So I needed to do a quick calculation to get the length of the outside of my frame pieces.
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 3/4″
So, the length of the outside edge for the top and bottom is (3/4″x2)+ 8 7/16”= 9 15/16”
The length of the outside edge for the sides is (3/4”x2)+27 7/16” = 28 15/16”
I cut my frame pieces to length measuring from the mitred corner to these lengths and then used the 45 degree side of my speed square to mark the angle from the long side to the short side.
This kind of acts as a fail safe so you can visually see the angles and know they are facing the right direction before cutting them.
Step 8 Dry fit your frame and make sure it fits. I used clamps to make sure all my corners fit nicely together and the frame fit snugly against the face of the sign.
Sometimes you need to cut just a hair off one side to make it fit, but you don’t want to trim too much. To do this I lock my blade down, put the piece against the blade, lift the blade and then cut. Sometimes if I’m concerned I’ll take too much I clamp the piece in place before cutting. This will only remove a tiny bit off the edge.
Step 9 If you are cutting out your numbers you will want to do that now. I cut out a template for the numbers using my Cricut onto card stock. I checked that they would fit nicely on the sign, traced them out onto a piece of 1×10 pine and then I cut them out on my scroll saw.
If you are cutting the numbers out with a scroll saw you’ll need to drill holes for the inside holes to thread the blade through.
Step 10 Sand everything. First I sanded the face of my sign with the random orbit sander using grits 120, 150, 180, then 220. Then I did the same with the faces of the frame and the sides.
I lightly hand sanded the mitred corners that will be glued together to avoid taking off too much and ruining my angles.
I used my belt sander, spindle sander and some sand paper to carefully sand my numbers. you’ll want to be careful not to change their shape too much. I also used an old paint stick with some sandpaper attached to it with double sided tape to sand some of the inner straight sections of the numbers.
You could also just buy the numbers if you’d prefer.
Step 11 Tape off the parts of the frame that will be glued together. I do this before painting as paint can reduce the strength of glued joints.
I just measured about an inch from the bottom of the sides of the frame that will be attaching to the face of the sign and taped it off as well as the mitred sides that will be glued.
Step 12 If you’re staining the face of your sign I recommend using wood conditioner first. 30 minutes later you can apply your stain. I wipe mine on with a clean shop rag.
Step 13 Next I spray painted my frame and numbers black. I did 3 coats to ensure I got into every corner and edge.
Step 14 Assemble your sign. First Carefully measure and make some small pencil marks for the placement of the numbers. I used my stencils as a guide to determine placement.
When I was confident of the placement I used wood glue with a couple of drops of CA glue to put on the numbers on. I cleaned up any excess wood glue with a cotton swab and left them to dry overnight.
The next day I attached the frame using wood glue and 1 1/2” brad nails. I like to clamp the entire structure securely first and after nailing I leave the 4 corner strap clamp in place to keep the mitred corners in place while the glue dries.
The nails leave some tiny holes. I put a bit of black paint on each of the holes and they were barely noticeable.
Step 15 Apply a finish/sealer. This is especially important if the sign will be out in the elements.
I did 3 coats of spray lacquer to the entire sign
Step 16 Put hardware on to hang the piece. I like to use 2 d ring hangers for this.
There you have it – a custom address plaque to add both personality and curb appeal to your home. I hope this tutorial was easy to follow. If you make a sign of your own please tag me on Instagram @the_walnut_grove. Feel free to pin one of my images to Pinterest to save this project for later.