A handcrafted wooden sign can add a touch of rustic charm to a business or home, and can be an ideal gift. With the right tools and a little imagination, making a wooden sign yourself needn't be difficult, and there are a number of ideas from which to choose when coming up with a design for a homemade sign.
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The art of hand-carving a wooden sign is often called chip carving and has been used in northern Europe for hundreds of years. Using a hammer, special woodcarving knives and mini-chisels, as opposed to regular wood chisels, chip carving involves making small chips that ultimately carve images and letters directly into the wood. It's generally a good idea to design the letters to appear on the sign on tracing paper first, which can then be cut out to form the words on the sign. These can then be positioned properly and carbon paper slid beneath the letters, which are then traced to make an outline in the wood that will serve as a carving guide. The carved letters can then be enhanced with paint with a coat of finish or varnish applied upon completion.
A far easier option--although not as nearly as charming--is to simply paint the letters and images directly upon the wood. The process is essentially the same as in chip carving, but without the carving. There are a wide variety of paints from which to choose, in myriad colours and finishes, including some that mimic gold or silver gilt. For a rustic touch, find an old, weathered piece of wood (perhaps from an old barn or demolished building) and paint your sign on it. The paint can then be lightly sanded to provide a distressed, antique look.
A handmade sign can serve a variety of purposes, such as a home-entrance sign displaying a family name as a housewarming gift or a customised sign that a business-owner can display outside a shop or office. Other ideas for wooden signs include those that can be hung indoors as part of the overall home decor, signs designed for a child's bedroom, or a personalised welcome sign that can be used at a home, cabin, cottage or summer camp.
Where to Find Ideas
A great way to find ideas is to visit local craft fairs and flea markets, where woodworking artisans often sell wooden signs. Seeing the work that others have done can often inspire your own creativity, or you may simply want to imitate something you see there. On the Internet, a great place to start is the website Primitive Crossroads, which offers links to a number of websites that sell rustic crafts--including wooden signs--that can provide a wealth of ideas for your own project. In addition, there are also links to sites that sell stencils and other tools that can ease the process of making your own sign.
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