How to Make Primitive Signs

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Things You'll Need

  • 14 inch x 4 inch wide worn wood

  • 320 grit sandpaper

  • 12 inch x 3 1/2 inch stencil

  • Acrylic paint--assorted dark colors

  • Small paint brushes

  • 2 Alligator hangers with screws

  • Screwdriver

Primitive signs create a warm and welcoming feeling in the home. A primitive sign is typically long and narrow allowing it to go on almost any small wall area. Primitives signs are popular year round. You can consider changing the primitive signs in your home with each season or major holiday. Signs can be fun for your guests to read. Making your own primitive signs opens up your opportunity to have a unique one-of-a-kind sign to display. Primitive signs are also good items to sell at craft fairs or flea markets.


Step 1

Select your wood. Choose a piece that has a worn or weathered look. Wood with character marks are best.

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Step 2

Sand your piece of wood to remove any splinters. Do not sand to a perfect finish. Remove dust.


Step 3

Place your wood on a flat surface.

Step 4

Paint the wood any dark color using your acrylic paint. Allow to dry.

Step 5

Lay your stencil on top of the wood.


Step 6

Paint inside the stencil onto the wood. Use drab or dull colors.

Step 7

Lift the stencil straight up off the wood so you do not smear any of the paint. Allow to dry.

Step 8

Outline the stencil design in a dark acrylic paint. Allow to dry.


Step 9

Sand the entire surface of the sign. Sand harder and more often at the edges and corner.

Step 10

Sand some of the paint away to make the sign look worn.

Step 11

Use a screwdriver and the screws that came with the hangers to attach one alligator hanger on the back of the sign 2 inches from the outside left edge. Attach the other alligator hanger on the back of the sign 2 inches from the outside right edge. Be sure to place the hangers even with each other.


Free hand your own signs without the use of stencils.

Create your own stencil using your computer, printer and word processing software. Simply design, print and cut out the lettering. Then use these homemade stencils as you would any other.

Make different sizes of primitive signs. Hand some of them vertical and some horizontal. The variations in size are one of the charming aspects of primitive signs.


You may finish your sign by applying a clear thin coat of polyurethane to the surface. Be sure to wait until all the paint has dried. Allow the polyurethane to dry completely before adding another coat.



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