How to Make Primitive Signs With Stencils


Making signs is a wood-craft pastime that has been around for generations. Handmade wooden signs can lend an air of welcome to a home or business that store-bought plastic or metal signs lack. A primitive wooden sign is even more warm and welcoming. Making a primitive wooden sign using stencils for letters and designs isn't difficult. These signs are fun to make and can be sold to local business owners or at flea markets and craft fairs as a sideline business.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood block
  • Tape
  • Stencil
  • Black marker
  • Dremel Carver/117 attachment
  • Wood-burning pen
  • Chisel (small)
  • Rubber hammer
  • Sandpaper
  • Clear wood stain
  • Determine the type of wood you want to use. For primitive sign making, it's best to select wood that has a worn look. Tree wood with the bark on is ideal. You can also use wood purchased from a lumber yard, but try to get wood that hasn't been processed. If all you can get is processed wood, you can always stain it to make it look worn and primitive.

  • Cut your wood to the size you need for your sign. If you're cutting from a piece of tree, you may need to use a power saw. Place your cut wood on a flat, stable surface and tape your stencil in place. With a black marker, trace your stencil design or letters onto the surface of the wood where you want your carving to be. Remove the stencil when your design is finished.

  • Use a Dremel power carver with a #117 engraving attachment to remove the center portions of wood from your stencil design. Work your way from the center to the edges of the design gradually, until you have a rough cut of your design. The size of the cutting bit you use depends upon the space you have to work with on your design and what you're comfortable with, just be sure it isn't so large it cuts too much wood from your design at a time. The process should be gradual. Work your way around inside the design as you remove the excess wood to bring out the stencil art. You can use a wood-burning pen on the stencil art instead of a cutter if you want to create a wood-burned sign.

  • Use a small chisel and your mallet to remove the rougher edges around the outline of your stencil art, then take a piece of sandpaper and go around the outer edges of your design to remove excess wood. Don't smooth the edges too much or you'll take away from the primitive nature of the sign. Add a coat of clear wood seal just to protect the sign from the elements.

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