how to hand letter signs like a pro (or, at least, like me)

hand lettered sign

When I saw this Life is Beauty Full sign from Lavender Fields a while back, I fell in love with it’s rustic look and handcrafted feel. While one of my personal rules as a blogger is to never share tutorials on items that are similiar to ones on Etsy/other small, online boutiques, I did want to share the hand lettering technique that I use on the wooden signs that I create.

Yes, lots of techniques are out there…painting over letter stickers is a popular one, especially when creating subway art. Letter stencils are another easy method. Neither was what I was after, though. I wanted something that would give me large letters, and I also didn’t like the line “breaks” that you see in letter stencils.
(I shared a very similiar technique when I first started my blog on my Wooden Welcome Sign Tutorial, but I wanted to reshare it here!)

Materials Needed:
computer and printer

paint marker
craft paint

Step One: Find a font that you want to recreate, and, using your word processing software, type out and print out exactly what you want the sign to say. Also, make your letters the exact size you want them to be in the finished product.

Step Two: Cut out each individual letter (leave a border of white around each letter), and place each letter exactly where you want it on your wood. Take your pencil (I used a mechanical pencil with no lead showing), and outline each of your letters.

The marks will be visible, but only barely!

Step Three: (This, by the way, is where real artists probably want to stop reading-if they haven’t already!) Outline your letters using a paint pen.

Step Four: Using a small paintbrush and craft paint. Fill in your letters (I needed two coats).

I’d love to hear any tips you all have for hand lettering signs! This is, so far, the easiest method I’ve found…what works for you?



  1. Oh how timely for me!!!!! I am presently creating my own wooden signs for our pool area! I tried my ‘lettering’ skills on my first sign last night. I tried to use stencils I bought at AC Moore. It all looks awful! I tried to pencil around the stencils but, it was difficult to cover the pencil lines….

    You must’ve known that I was struggling and putting off doing any more of my wooden plaques!! Thank you so much for this marvelous tutorial!!!!

  2. So glad I found your tutorial. I just found it via a link on Pinterest. I’ve been wanting to make some wood signs and I’ve been trying to figure out in my head how to go about doing them to make them look right. (I want to try some fabric signs as well and the majority of this technique would work for that as well. Perfect timing — thank you!!

    ~ Jennifer

  3. I did something similar for my son’s birthday, but on poster board. I just printed out the wording I wanted, traced over it with pencil (pressing hard) and then painted. Wish I’d thought of the paint pen though; I used gold paint, so there must have been 6 coats on each letter because the paint was so transparent. I’ll have to remember that for next time! Found via Pinterest!


    • Stephanie,
      Try an orange primer, or red under the gold paint, and make sure you use a good brush, should help the many coats..

  4. This is a great tutorial. You can also get graphite paper in either black or white to transfer the letters onto the board. instead of pressing w/ the mechanical pencil. It’s fairly cheap and has lots of uses like this.

  5. Thanks for sharing! Your technique is so much easier than cutting your own stencil of words!

  6. Thanks for the tips. I’m wanting to make a sign but with no Silhouette or Stencils on hand, I was feeling stumped. This will help me a lot!

  7. I rub white chalk on the back of each letter before I trance it on the surface. The chalk easily wipes away but it easy to see while painting. I lime the Sharpie idea! I might have to try that :-)

  8. Just use graphite paper and trace your letters with no cutting out. Graphite paper comes in grey like pencil lead and white and works just like carbon paper, but easy to erase. I love it and have been using it for years.

  9. Thank you for sharing this. I would like to try my hand at customized artwork and I would love to try this. I just hope it will be as easy to do as it looks. Your work has inspired me. I’m already excited to go out and buy the materials I will need.

  10. jocelyneNo Gravatar says:

    if you do not like the line breaks left by letter stencils just paint them in and
    then the letter is solid – every time I see line breaks I say to myself
    ”why didn’t they just fill those in” the letters would look so much better