Making an “Antique” Sign

by | Nov 15, 2012 | Painted Signs, Painting & Refinishing, Popular, Tutorials | 10 comments

 I must apologize!  I posted a teaser about this sign I made for Cottages & Bungalows and said I would post the tutorial after the issue was off newsstands.  Well…that was in August, so I think it’s safe to say that those issues have been pulled.  So, at long last, here it is…

What you’ll need:

  • 12” wide pine board cut to desired length
  • Acrylic craft paint (at least three colors)
  • 2 ½” sash brush
  • 1” artist brush, 1.0 liner brush, ½” angled shader
  • Computer
  • Printer and printer paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Graphite transfer paper
  • Ballpoint pen
  • 80 grit sand paper
  • Dark brown soft furniture wax
  • Round brush or cotton cloth
  • Clean cotton cloth
  • Drill with driver bits
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • 2 D-ring hangers
  • Hammer and nails


How to do it:

Cut a piece of 12” wide pine board to desired length or use a piece of scrap lumber.  If wood is new, hit it with a hammer and scratch it with nails to rough it up.  Using a 2 ½” sash brush, paint the board in desired color.  It is best to use a flat or matte acrylic or milk paint.  (I used MMSMP in Boxwood.)  Allow paint to dry.

Use a word processing program on the computer to design text for the sign.  Sizing it to fit on the board may take some trial and error, so print only one or two letters at a time until the right font size is determined.  Print the letters.  For smaller letters and words, cut out and tape them together.  Place graphite transfer paper under the lettering and trace outline with a ballpoint pen.  Make sure lettering is level on the sign before tracing.  One piece of transfer paper can be used repeatedly for entire sign.

Use a 1” wash brush to paint large letters or a ½” angled shader for smaller letters.  If desired, paint a border on the sign as well.
Choose a darker, coordinating color to paint an outline and shadow around letters.  This makes the letters stand out and gives the sign a three dimensional appearance.  Allow paint to completely dry.
Sand entire sign with 80 grit sandpaper to distress lettering and paint.  Allow wood to show through in some areas.  Wipe away dust with a cloth.
Use a round brush or soft cloth to apply a dark brown furniture wax in a thin layer to entire surface of sign.  The wax will settle in the imperfections in the wood, giving the sign an authentically aged look.  Allow wax to dry for 3-5 minutes, then buff to a shine with a clean cloth.
Turn sign over and measure approximately 2” in and down on each corner.  Make a mark with a pencil or pen.  Drill a pilot hole for the D-ring hanger screw on the mark.  Attach D-ring hangers to back of the sign using screws.  Hang sign on nails.  For heavy or large signs, locate a stud or use anchors to hang securely.   Always use caution and wear safety glasses when using power tools.

 That’s it!  This is a great project to do with free scraps of wood and can be completed in an afternoon.  I love projects like that.

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  1. Jane

    Thank You sharing your blog

  2. Kellie

    I can’t wait to try this!!! It looks great!

  3. Jillian

    So excited to try this!

  4. Nancy

    Hello! This sign is so charming, I am ready to get started on my own. I love the fonts you used, would you mind sharing the name for each – Dairy and the butter, milk and cheese please?
    Thank you for the inspiration 🙂

  5. John Gill

    The ‘D’ is leaning. Just kidding it looks OK. The sort of remark I would get though from
    Mrs Perfect.

  6. Cindy

    I absolutely love, love, love your signs and your work!
    Would you mind sharing the font you used for the DAIRY sign?

    Thank you so much for sharing,

  7. Deborah Young

    Love this.I am going to try it.

  8. Aldo

    Hallo! what kind of wax did you use to give the old effect to the writing (liquid or solid wax)? Thank you.

  9. Warren Gray

    Is the wax enough if this sign is used outside, or does it need to be sealed with a poly?

  10. Dana

    I too, would love to know what font you used for Dairy sign.

    Thank you!



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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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