How to Make an “Old” Sign

How to Make an “Old” Sign

Today I am over at Life Your Way sharing ideas for how to use old doors.  Old doors make me happy.  One of my faves is this door we bolted to a tree at the end of our driveway.

I thought I’d show you how I painted the sign hanging on the door.  Since we live in the country, we needed a big, bold address sign.  I need the delivery men to find us so he can deliver the many important packages without any trouble.  All of those Legos and cans of spray paint….we don’t want those to get lost, now do we?

So I dug through my wood pile and found a worn scrap and just used it the way it was.  No cutting, no nothin’.

Then I printed some big numbers from a font that I like.  It’s an odd, scratchy looking font, but I liked the shape so I went with it.  I got out some carbon paper.  Remember carbon paper?  I can remember putting a piece of carbon paper between 2 pieces of typing paper and rolling it through the typewriter so I’d have 2 copies.

Good times.

Ok back to the sign…..I traced around the printed letter with a stylus (but you could use anything) and the carbon paper left a nice line on the wood for me to paint.  I just used a small, flat brush and outlined the letters with black craft paint.  Then I filled them in…nothing to it.

I didn’t try to fill them is completely.  I wanted it to look worn and rough.

Then I decided the numbers needed a little pop, so I got out the white craft paint and added a bit of shadow.  I guess gray would have been shadow, but I used white.  Oh well…I like to live life to the fullest.

The trick is just painting the “shadow” along 2 sides.  I chose the right and the bottom sides of the letters, but you could also do top/left.  Then you paint a line along all of those sides you chose.  It’s a small thing, but it adds a nice dimension.

Oh yeah, I hand painted some scrolly thing-a-ma-bobs in the upper corners.  Then I gave the whole thing a light sanding.

And we’re done.  Drill a couple of holes and tie it to an old door.  Instant yard charm.

It was a great quick project to work on while I watched a movie with the kids.  It only took me about half an hour and that was with distractions, bathroom breaks, stopping to take pictures and Levi asking if he could eat my popcorn.

I hope you’ll pop on over to Life Your Way and check out my other ideas for using old doors!


  1. Dear Lisa,
    Thanks for the tips. Numbers and letters in cool fonts are such a great addition to rustic finds.

    Lettered in NE
    The Prairie Hen´s last blog post ..Landon’s in the HOUSE!

  2. Cool!! A craft that I could actually do! Where are some other areas around the house that old signs could be used (I have no vision)?
    Amanda´s last blog post ..Add Directional Light with Gradual Light Action

  3. I need to make one of those for our country home too! I just dismantled an old screen door to use inside my house, but I’m sure I could find something else to attach it to and I’ve got tons of old wood around here!

    I hope you’ll drop in an visit my 1-year blog celebration going on today and throughout the week!

    Angie @ Knick of Time
    Angie @ Knick of Time Interiors´s last blog post ..BLOGIVERSARY Leslie Janson GIVEAWAY

  4. That is a great idea! I love old doors too, and wish I could find more of them (cheaply) to play with!
    Deb Owen´s last blog post ..Pin the Tail on the Bloggy Party

  5. I love it! My hubby and I made our mailbox out of an old newel post from a hotel stairway – the hotel was demolished and the bits and pieces ended up at a junk/salvage place we like to visit. I think I need to add a weathered wood sign to the side to replace the small numbers we painted! Thanks for another great idea!
    Heather´s last blog post ..25 Things for a Monday in June

  6. super cute! i love it.maybe i can do a smaller version for my wooden bench in front of my house!
    lisa @StudioJewel´s last blog post ..Happy 4th of July and a how-to create a Sparkler Photo

  7. This would have been a great idea to use up at my parents cabin! It’s a tiny little thing (with no running water or electricity) up in the north woods of Minnesota. They have spent the last couple of years dismanteling the old cabin, and moved in a small trailer. The door from the old cabin would have been great to put at the end of the long drive, and would have been a great momento of times past. Maybe I need to double-check and make sure they don’t still have the door! :)
    Kristin´s last blog post ..Tiberius – Month One

  8. I love this, pinning it to try soon. Do you remember what that font was?
    Melissa @TheHappierHomemaker´s last blog post ..Family Room Accent Wall with a Giveaway!

  9. This is still one of my favorite projects that you have done, and I just nominated it as a feature over at a cool new blog:!

  10. You said you bolted it to the tree. I have mine leaned up against a tree and I’m afraid of it falling over.. it’s darn heavy. I love the sign and why I came here.. but now I am wondering about how to keep that door safely there ;) thanks.


  1. [...] Using a small artist’s paintbrush, apply paint to the outline of your stenciled words. Be sure to make sure your pencil marks are sufficiently covered. Fill in the words with paint. You may need to do multiple coats to get the coverage you want. You can also use another color to create a shadow to your words like Lisa did on her old door sign. [...]

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