Sometimes you just need a custom made sign. My darling Happy Heart wood wall art started out as an old cabinet door, transformed into a beautiful focal point on my wall. I have a lot of ideas for DIY wooden signs but I had to come up with a way to easily make them. I tossed around the idea of buying a vinyl cutter to make custom stencils but the start-up cost for the plotting machine and the vinyl adhesive material is fairly high. I did find a pretty easy solution to make DIY die-cut stencils for painted wood signs using printer paper, spray adhesive, and contact paper. I’m sure there are lots of ways to accomplish making homemade stencils for painting; this is just the route I went.
Homemade Letter Stencils
To make homemade wood art stencils, print out lettering using creative fonts that match the style you are trying to create.
Arrange the fonts onto 8″ x 11″ size sheets using a photo editing program. You can even mock-up your sign to make sure the fonts are the right size and the layout fits together well. I chose the phrase “Have a Happy Heart” for my DIY wood sign. I feel like I’m telling my kids to have a happy heart a lot and it’s a good reminder for me too!
Once printed, use spray adhesive to attach contact paper or shelf paper to the back of each piece of printer paper to make the DIY painting stencils sticky. Use small scissors to cut out the lettering.
Traced Letter Stencils
Another DIY stencil technique you can try is to print off lettering backwards and trace around each letter with a pencil. Flip the paper pencil-line down against the wood and rub the pencil off onto the wood to make letter outlines, which you can then fill in with paint.
You would have to print the words backwards to get the appropriate left-to-right word arrangement once flipped over. This alternate technique for plotting letters on a DIY wood sign sounds simple but I haven’t tried it.
Once your paint stencil letters are cut out, arrange the homemade stencils onto the sign. You can use a small ruler to make sure everything is straight and aligned, applying pressure to make sure all the edges and corners are adequately attached to the wood.
Now it’s time to paint! I filled in each letter with paint using the stencil as an outline. I’d recommend brushing the paint on lightly over the letter edges and corners so excess paint doesn’t leak under the stencil and make the lettering look blemished.
For the word “happy” I used an orange and pink gradient technique to add depth to make this lettering the focal point of my homemade wood sign.
Allow your homemade lettering stencil to fully dry overnight before carefully peeling it off. If some of the letters aren’t perfect, you can touch it up a bit with the background color of the sign. If you are distressing your DIY wood sign with a sanding block like I did, a few blemishes won’t show much.
Homemade Distressed Wood Wall Art
I used a sheet of sand paper and manually distressed the front of my sign. This allowed me to control how much to distress the paint. Sanding also removed any paint edges from my lettering and smoothed out the entire look of my homemade wood Happy Heart sign.
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Finally, I decided to paint a heart around the letters. I could have done this before painting the letters but my heart border ended up being a last-minute embellishment. I just painted around the painted lettering using a watered-down light blue paint, allowing some of the wood distressing to show through.
Overall I am very happy with my homemade wood Have a Happy Heart sign and I know I’ll enjoy having this on my wall for many years to come! I used dusty aqua paint, a classic color in my home decor pallet. The pink and orange painted letters really pop out and add a cheerful element to the encouraging reminder. Happy hearts are important for happy families, content kids, and nurturing mommies too!
This project was featured on Hometalk!
Katie is a writer and influencer based in beautiful Coeur d’Alane, Idaho. She enjoys DIY projects, photography, decorating and going on family adventures. She feels blessed to be a wife, a stay-at-home mom to three kids and a Pacific Northwest lifestyle blogger.