This wooden sign is Perfect for tiered tray décor. You can customize it and easily change the sign faces for any season. This sign is a simple design and it can be made to any dimensions to fit your space. Swap out the sign faces and change up your décor in seconds.
I designed this wooden sign with my two-tiered stand in mind. The small size – 6 1/2” by 6 1/2” is perfect to add décor without taking up too much space. The reversible and interchangeable design allows you to change up your décor whenever you want. The design can be changed for any season without having multiple bulky frames.
Previously I made this wooden sign as a gift for my mom for Christmas. It’s outside her front door above her mailbox. That sign is bigger, but made the exact same way.
I used my Cricut and Cricut Design Space to create the designs I used for this sign, but you could also hand paint or purchase stencils from a craft store to paint your sign.
If you want to see how I applied the designs to the sign faces, click the link below. In this post I’ll focus on how I built the sign and prepared it for my designs.
Gather Your Supplies
The compact frame requires very little lumber to make, which makes it an affordable option. I used 3/8” plywood for the sign, but mdf could also be used.
- 1 – 6’ 1×2 (you won’t use the whole width)
- 3/8” plywood – I made 3 – 5 3/4” by 6 1/8” rectangles (to make 6 designs)
- Wood glue – I use Titebond II
- CA glue (optional) – I use KMS brand cyanoacrylate (CA) glue
- Sandpaper/sanding disks – I used a sanding block, 120 and 180 grit sanding disks
- Tack cloth
- Wood conditioner – I use the Varathane wood conditioner
- Stain – I used Varathane stains in linen, special walnut, and kona
- Paint – I used Behr semi-gloss interior enamel
- Wood finish – I used brush on polycrylic – see my guide for the best sealers to use over HTV here
- Safety Equipment (hearing protection, eye protection, respiratory for dust and vapors if you are staining your sign)
- Measuring tape
- Speed square
- Table saw
- Push blocks for narrow stock (I use the Grr-ripper by microjig as it’s adjustable and works well for narrow stock)
- Miter saw
- Random orbital sander (could also sand by hand)
- Belt sander (optional)
- Clamps – I used quick grip clamps and a 4 corner strap clamp
- Shop vac (optional to remove dust from your piece)
- Lint free shop rags
- Paint brush/small roller
Let’s get to building!
Step 1 Write out a cut list. If you’re a visual person, like me, you may want to print off a copy of my Sketchup plan. You can find that down below. Sometimes it helps to see the angles to make sure you cut them all in the right directions.
Step 2 Rip the 1×2 down to 1/2”. The thickness of the board (3/4”) will become the width of the frame.
You will also need to rip a piece that is 1/2” thick and 3/8” wide. I like to do this from the piece ripped above after cutting the first 8 pieces, but you could cut it now if desired.
A good push block really comes in handy at this point and I wouldn’t recommend making these cuts without a push block that’s appropriate for narrow stock. Always make sure you are confident with the cut and can execute it safely before you attempt it.
Step 3 Head to the miter saw. Cut off the end of the 3/4” wide board at a 45 degree angle. Then measure from the outside edge and mark the board at 6 1/2”. That is where you’ll cut your next 45 degree angle.
You want the outside (long) corner to corner measurement to be 6 1/2” and the angles will be as depicted below.
In order to repeat this cut for all the other pieces you can create a jig. Cut an extra piece off your stock, ensuring that one end has a 45 degree angle.
Then lock your blade in the down position and line up the 6 1/2” long piece against the blade with the extra piece you just cut to the left of it. Then clamp the extra piece (using a clamp that won’t slide or move easily) to the fence ensuring it is snug against the first piece you cut.
Lift your blade and double check that it doesn’t hit your 6 1/2” piece when it’s against the stop block. The blade should be able to just slide past it – indicating that it will repeat the cut perfectly. You may need to adjust the stop block a bit, but when it’s set right you’ll be able to easily and quickly make the rest of your cuts.
Cut the other 7 frame pieces and make sure they fit together nicely to make 2 identical frames. Leave the stop block in place!
Step 4 At this point I suggest ripping the rest of the 3/4” wide 1/2” thick piece. Rip it down so it’s 3/8” wide and 1/2” thick using a push block that’s appropriate for narrow stock.
Step 5 Take the 3/8” wide piece to the miter saw, line it up with your stop block and cut 3 more pieces. This works really well because it already has a 45 degree end from the previous cuts.
Step 6 At this point you’ll want to dry fit all of your mitred corners together and make sure they all line up.
Step 7 If everything fits together well it’s time to assemble.
I recommend gluing the top and bottom of the frame separately, letting them dry and then gluing the middle pieces between them.
You’ll want to wipe off all the excess glue, especially on the inside of the frame. I use cotton swabs for this.
The middle pieces are what will allow the face of the sign to slide in and out and I purposely left the top of them at a 45 degree angle so you can grab the top of the sign board and pull it out.
I like using 4 corner strap clamps for gluing up my frames and then to make sure the frame sits completely flat I like to add clamps to the corners. Clamping the corners directly to your bench also works well with a frame this small.
Step 8 While the frame is drying you’ll want to cut your sign’s face pieces. You can cut as many or as few as you want.
I like to cut extras so I can add designs for the different seasons or holidays. The nice thing about this sign is if you get bored of the design you can always switch it out or just flip the sign around.
I cut several 5 3/4” by 6 1/8” pieces out of some extra 3/8” sanded plywood we had, so that I could make 6 designs. I cut these on the table saw.
Once the frame is dry you can double check to make sure your sign easily slides in and out of the frame.
Step 9 After everything is glued and completely dry it’s time to sand.
I took my frame to the belt sander and carefully sanded all the sides flush. Go slow and don’t take off too much if you’re doing it this way.
Next I used my random orbit sander to sand the faces. I used 120 and 180 grits.
I used the sanding block to sand the edges of the face of the sign, but really no one will see them, except the top.
Step 10 vacuum off your piece and wipe off the remaining dust with a tack cloth and it’s ready for you to paint or stain.
Step 11 Paint or stain your frame as desired. I painted mine white.
Then paint or stain your sign pieces. I did some stained, some painted, and one I left unfinished.
Now your sign is ready to add designs. you could do this using a Cricut or silhouette cutting machine to cut stencils or iron on vinyl like I did. You could also do hand painted lettering or images, or you could purchase stencils.
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Next you should check out how I finished my sign faces and achieved all my designs. My free cut files are also available in the link below. I will also be creating new inserts for this sign to decorate for the holidays and sharing those SVGs here.
Keep Me Posted!
Let me know if you make this sign and if you use my designs or create your own. I’d love to see what you create! Tag me on Instagram @the_walnut_grove and pin this to Pinterest to refer back to.