DIY Wood Sign

This sign is something we have been talking about making for a while, but we finally got it done this weekend. Football season is just the deadline we needed to kick our butts into gear!

If you don't know our story, my dad passed away suddenly back in May. After he died we learned about his "And Then Some" legacy, and it became our family credo. We want to be people who do what is expected, and then some. That's what it is all about!

One of the really cool things that spun out of the And Then Some legacy is that Scott's football team (Scott is a high school coach) has taken on "ATS" and "And Then Some" and the team credo. Scott's boss was present at my dad's memorial service when the pastor explained how to be an "And Then Some" person, and he was inspired to bring that message back to the team. Now 300+ high school boys will have And Then Some wristbands and t-shirts. Isn't that wonderful? I'm really happy to see such a positive message being spread to an age group that sometimes needs an inspirational push.

Anyway, we thought it would be really nice to make an And Then Some sign for Scott's office. This is where all of his football work happens, including meetings with fellow coaches and the players. It's basically a cinder block room with a window, so it could use a little something special.

My goal was to design a sign that was both masculine and modern. The football offices are actually pretty sleek (lots of white, silver and glass), so we thought the wood would warm up his office and make it more comfortable. He spends a lot of time in there so comfort is key.

This sign was a true labor of love. I designed the concept and drew the letters. Scott cut the letters out of the wood. I stained the wood, and Scott put the wood together. I painted the edges of the letters. He attached the letters to the sign. Teamwork is a must!

Let's start at the beginning.  We went to Home Depot to pick up the lumber. We bought five 1x3" cedar boards (8 feet long)that were smoothed out on one side. We also bought a 1x6" cedar plank (smooth on one side) that was 8 ft. long. We had the rest of the supplies already, so that helped us keep the costs down.

We bought the thin boards to use as the back of the sign, and we bought the larger plank to create the letters.

The first step was the stain the smooth side of the wood. We decided to tint it with gray stain because 1) gray is one of their school colors and 2) we wanted it to have a different finish from the cedar FM sign he already had in his office. (Read about that project here.)

My staining technique is very simple: I use a rag dipped in the stain to brush it on very lightly, using that same rag to wash the stain into the wood. I like a light stain so I can still see a lot of wood grain. I am the official "stainer" in this house because the husband is a little heavy-handed and the finish ends up being opaque instead of transparent.

Scott used some simple wood pieces on the back to fasten the thin planks together and sanded the edges to make it more polished and less of a splinter hazard. He cut the planks down to 6.5" long and used the extra scraps to brace the back of the boards.

Once I had stained all of the wood pieces, I started drawing the letters on the rough side of the 1x6 plank.

I knew I wanted the letters to be the same size, so I started each letter by creating a box that was 4 inches wide and 6 inches tall to draw in. Then I penciled in my letters, making sure each took up the full box. I used a ruler to make sure my letters were 1" thick.

Some letters were easier than others, of course. Any letters with curves were just freehanded, but I think they turned out fine. If the letter wasn't perfectly symmetrical, I had to draw it on the smooth side of the board. When possible I used the back of the board to draw the letters so that the pencil marks wouldn't show after the cuts.

Once I drew the letters, Scott used his scroll saw to cut them out. He just purchased this saw on Craigslist, so he was itching to use it. This was the perfect project to test its capabilities. If you're not in possession of a scroll saw and want this project to go a lot faster, you could just buy your letters online. I've ordered from Woodland Manufacturing a couple times and have been very happy with the products.

Once the letters were cut out, we used some sandpaper to smooth the edges. Since the letters and sign were stained the same color, I wanted to add some dimension by painting the sides. I used navy acrylic paint and a stiff artist paintbrush (which gives better control than a soft paintbrush) to paint the sides of each letter. I have no photos of this part because I had paint on my hands, but let's just say that was more tedious than I thought. I had a case of carpal tunnel by the end!

We let the letters dry overnight and began the process to affix them to the sign the next day. We used masking tape to create a straight line on the boards, which was really helpful as we measured and spaced out each letter.

Each letter is 1.25" a part, and each word is 4.75" inches a part. It took some time and mathematics for us to get those measurements just right, but thank goodness my husband has math skills. (Me? Not so much.)

Once we had the spacing right, we used wood glue to adhere the letters.

About an hour later, we took the sign outside and added nails to make sure each letter was secure. We used a nail gun and added the nails from the back of the sign so that the letters wouldn't have nail holes.

We didn't have a good hanging kit for the back of the sign, so the husband used his MacGuyver skills to fashion one out of electrical wire staples. He's resourceful, that one. Anything to avoid a trip to the hardware store when a project is this close to being finished.

Finally, we took it up to the office and hung it up above his window. Now it's the first thing you see when you walk in!

I wish his office was a little more visually appealing, but let's be real: It's a man's office. This is not the right place for me to go all "Pinterest-crazy" and over-decorate. Restraint is key. :)

We are so happy with the sign and with the message it represents. I'm still grieving the loss of my dad, but we're focused on living our lives in a way that makes him proud. I know he would LOVE this sign so much and would be happy as could be sitting in Scott's office, talking about sports and life and all those good things. We really miss him, but projects like this make us feel close to him.

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