Using Vinyl for Wooden Signs – both as a stencil and to do to the branding


I love the idea of making signs using my Cricut so I thought I’d have a go at making one by applying the design in vinyl and then the same design but using the vinyl as a stencil and painting the design.  I ended up with two quite different results and of course made some errors on the way.

You will need, wooden sign blanks.  Got mine from S&S Sign Blanks on facebook.  I highly recommend these guys.  They’re really good value and have a great choice of different woods and sizes are available.  A paint brush, masking tape, paint, varnish and vinyl.  (I’ll come on to what type later).


First because I’m an incredibly messy painter I covered my edges with masking tape so I could paint one front side without worrying about smudgy lines on the edges.


I painted two of these signs with Clotted Cream chalk paint from Rust-Oleum (it was the least expensive chalk paint I could find in my local DIY store).  The blocks took 3 coats no primer.


So now it’s vinyl time!  For the one where I wanted to use vinyl as my stencil I’ve seen people recommend Oracle 631 as is non permanent and also special stencil vinyl.  I didn’t have either so I used permanent (yes permanent) vinyl I got for free from my local sign printers.  Here’s a great tip, call your local sign companies and explain you just do home crafts and ask if they have any offcuts they wouldn’t mind you having if you can collect.  I did this and ended up with a huge haul of vinyl for free.  I knew I wouldn’t use a glossy green I was given so this I used for my stencil on my new Cricut 12x24inch mat.

long vinyl

Now you want to weed out the negatives.  Sound technical?  It’s not, basically you just need to weed out the bits you’d usually keep so remove the e part of the e and not the middle center part.  See below…


Once weeded, pop your transfer tape over the front and burnish as normal (burnish means rub with your scraper), be careful to ensure all the small bits like centers of letters have stuck and then peel the backing paper away slowly.


Now carefully line up your vinyl on your sign (I cut mine down to size) and burnish enough to stick the vinyl down, I didn’t go crazy as my vinyl was permanent and I was worried about pulling paint off when I came to remove it.  Now choose your paint, you don’t need much on the brush, just a small amount on the ends and dab any excess off (I use the back of my transfer paper) and lightly brush over your design in all different directions.  Again I used 3 coats.  I used Craig and Rose in Jet black because it was the cheapest black sample size I could get from Homebase.


So while that’s drying I moved onto my vinyl one.  I realised I didn’t have a piece of vinyl long enough to take the design so I moved it about in design space to fit onto a normal 12x12inch and figured I’d cut it up and position it.  I tried to get the top line all together to make it easier.  I used Cricut vinyl as I had some left from my starter pack.


Using transfer paper take the design and put it on your wooden sign, at this point I realised my choice of font was probably a tad poor and in fact some of the lines we so thin it made it quite hard to work with.  Not to self, chubby fonts are easier to work with.


This version is pretty much finished so I went back to my stencil one.  My 3 coats are now dry and I carefully pulled the vinyl off starting at one corner.  It came off really easily and didn’t take hardly any paint with it, just carefully use a weeding tool to get out the bits in the middle of letters.  My choice of font came back to haunt me again, but in a much bigger way.  Because some of the lines were so thin, as my vinyl came off it lifted the paint off with it.  Overall the clarity of letters isn’t too bad but the missing parts of the design is pretty rubbish.  See below, using vinyl to print is the top image, using vinyl as a stencil is the bottom image.


I would definitely give the painted option another go, but next time choose a better font to work with.  As it is, I’ll sand this one down and have another go.  For my vinyl version, I painted the edges in metallic gold and applied 3 coated of satin clear varnish to seal it.  Of course I can spot all the flaws but really happy with the finished item.



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