Make Your Own Vintage-Style Sign

Last December through the end of February, I was a guest blogger at SC Johnson’s Right@Home website. If you missed my posts, I wanted to share my favorite with you on making your own vintage style sign.I cleaned up and lightly sanded a simple $2 cupboard door that I found at the recycle area of our local landfill {1}. Cupboard door panels, whether old or new, work well because most have nice framework around them. If there are hardware holes, simply fill with spackle, dry and sand before painting. Other things that work great as sign boards are center panels removed from an old door and tall baseboard moulding. Of course, most any surface can be painted on using these techniques, even your wall as long as there isn’t a texture to it.

First, measure the dimensions of the panel for the text {2}. Using craft acrylic paint, create a light colored background and paint the frame border to best match your decor. I painted a thin coat of white over the already light wood and painted the border a soft grey to go with the slate and stainless steel colors in my kitchen {3}.

Using decorative type on your computer or with letters from a typeface book, design your sign to the dimensions of the measured panel and outline the type {4}. I chose a baking theme since everyone in my family loves to bake. Enlarge your image to exact size and either print from your computer tiled into several sheets of paper or on a copy machine in sections. Line up and tape all pieces together, trimming away as much overlap as possible {5 & 6}.For transferring the lettering, you can use graphite transfer paper, found at most art supply stores. Or you can create the same effect by simply taping your sign to a window, with the back of the paper facing you and the lettering now appearing in reverse with the light coming through. With a standard pencil, scribble over all areas of type to be traced {7}.Once you’ve penciled the back of your paper, using masking tape, lay the design in place, face up on the board and adhere the top corners. Trace over all of the type with a ballpoint pen . Lift the paper as you go to be sure you are not missing any areas of the lettering {9}. When all type is transferred, remove paper and begin painting {10}. Most minor errors in your painting can easily be fixed later when sanding your piece.I added one additional border of black around the inside trim of the framework and gave the whole sign a aged and distressed look with sandpaper by sanding areas along the edges of the board & trim and sections of the painted type {11}. Finally, finish with a coat of spray surface sealer and hang!

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23 Responses to Make Your Own Vintage-Style Sign

  1. #1 - Sandy Toes says:

    How cute and fun~
    I love things with our name on it!
    is that vain? I don’t know..wink!
    sandy toe

  2. #2 - Natalie says:

    How fun! I love these types of projects and I’m itching to finish painting my basement so I can do more “fun” projects like this! Also, I have to tell you that I love the green walls in your kitchen! My last kitchen I painted bright green and it made me SO happy every time I walked into it. I am so envious of your green!

  3. #3 - Michelle Sybert says:

    ve always wanted to do something like this, but didn’t know exactly how to do the letter transfer! Thanks so much for the “how-to”!

  4. #4 - Kimm at Reinvented says:

    Thanks so much for sharing these directions. I will definitely try this.

  5. #5 - Jane's Designs says:

    I like that!!

  6. #6 - alwaysadorable says:

    Wow, thanks for the great project. This one is right up my ally. I love the vintage signs and fruit crate labels. This would be perfect!

  7. #7 - Splendid Little Stars says:

    What a great project! Thanks for sharing!

  8. #8 - LDH says:

    I so enjoy visiting your blog! It is full of great ideas and very clear instructions. Always fun to stop by ~ Thank you!

  9. #9 - Cloud Nine Creations says:

    What a great idea! Great tutorial! I think I will have mine say “The Clark Trough”! LOL

  10. #10 - Faye says:


  11. #11 - charity says:

    You always make everything look so “do-able!” Thank you for giving this to us. I know I’ll be making my own sign very soon.

  12. #12 - Christine says:

    Great idea. I’m going to be watching for cabinet doors at garage sales.

  13. #13 - xashee's corner says:

    CUTE! Thank you for sharing! 🙂 Have a GREAT St. Paddy’s day!

  14. #14 - Connie says:

    How clever! I love repurposing old things to make them fun and exciting. I’m going to have to start searching for an old cupboard door so I can make one for myself!

  15. #15 - Junie Moon says:

    This sign project is wonderful. I’ve been trying to think of a project to do for my laundry room and something like this would work so well. Thank you!

  16. #16 - Kathleen says:

    Great project..thanks for the detailed instructions!

  17. #17 - laceylady says:

    Do you remember the name of the font you used for "Bakery"? I would love to make one similar.

  18. #18 - Cathe Holden says:

    Hi Misty,

    The font is called Tonic, found here:

  19. #19 - Susan Cantin says:

    Cathe: I have just had a look at your site and love it. What a great imagination you have with a very useful bend. I find a lot of sites that re-purpose items aren’t practical enough to warrant a second look. What fun you must have looking for items to transform.

    I also have a vintage site, offering vintage patterns from magazines that I have had as well as passed on to me from my grandmother.


  20. Pingback: Vintage Bloomers Ordinance Sign: Free Digital Download | Just Something I Made

  21. #20 - Sarah says:

    thanks for this tutorial. one question, though: any advice on the type or size of paintbrush to use? I think the painting would be the hardest part.

  22. #21 - vicki cook says:

    i’ve also always wanted to make signs for my porch, kitchen or to give as gifts! i’d even consider doing something on one of my vintage cupboards! great tutorial!!
    – vicki xo

  23. Looks vintage and fun and cute. I like it, perhaps I’ll use it for something other than the kitchen, like maybe our fitting room sign.