Tutorial: Vintage “BOY” Hand Painted Sign

Last week I showed you the Pinterest-inspired ruler growth chart I made. But this week, I want to show off one of my favorite DIY projects I’ve ever done, and this one is my original design. I had been working on my son’s room for quite some time which is vintage farm themed, and I wanted to create an old looking advertisement-style sign to hang on his wall. After some research, I decided I wanted it to read ‘Genuine, 100% All American, Country Raised “BOY”.

I started by digging through my stash of boards that I pulled out of my neighbor’s burn pile (seriously, I cannot even begin to list the things I have “reclaimed” from this man’s burn pile. He can’t say anything since HIS burn pile burned OUR entire back field and nearly a trailer and tractor two summers back). Anyways, I found the perfect sized board – a 1×12 approximately 3 feet long.

Salvaged board

Salvaged board

Using a container of craft paint that I mixed up a few years ago, I painted the majority of the board. I left some of the bare board showing through on around the edges. (I did not prime the board for this reason. Plus, I’m lazy – er, efficient – like that.)

Painted green (dark spots are just where it's still wet)

Painted green (dark spots are just where it’s still wet)

Then I added black to the green paint and used a stiff dry brush (aka a brush I didn’t clean properly the last time I used it) to add some aging to the edges of the board. I also painted the sides of the board with the darker green, again leaving some bare board showing.


For the wording, I designed the layout in InDesign, converted it to outlines (to save on ink) and printed it out on the back side of scrap paper. Then I cut, taped and arranged it on the board like so.

No fancy stencils here!

No fancy stencils here!

I traced over the printouts with an ink pen using a lot of pressure. It’s hard to make it out in this photo, but I was left with a very easy to see outline of the design.


Outline of text visible

Outline of text visible

All of the words were painted white. I purposely left the paint thick and somewhat uneven so when I sanded it, the high spots would rub off making it look worn and aged.


I wanted more detail and depth to the design, so I outline “Genuine” and did a drop shadow on “BOY” in a John Deere Green color, then did a drop shadow on “Country Raised” in a warm brown color. I also added a little corner decoration.


After some light and random sanding on the whole surface and lots around the edges, I very lightly covered the whole sign in a walnut stain using a couple of old socks. I would barely apply it using one sock, then use a clean sock to wipe it off right away.  I had to work very quickly and use a very light touch so it didn’t get too dark. More sanding and heavier staining around the edges left it done as show here:


Of course, no vintage sign is complete without a vintage-esque way to hang it. I wanted it to look like an old sign that hung on a general store, so I searched and searched for the right type of bracket. I ended up with a pair of plant hangers from Westlake Hardware and a little length of chain. The brackets and chain were the only thing I had to purchase for this project, so I spent around $8. It’s not quite as rustic as I was going for, but standing 7 feet below it, you don’t notice the hanging hardware. You just see the one-of-a-kind sign!

Completed sign hung

Completed sign in my son’s bedroom


Be sure to check back in next week when I reveal my son’s room in it’s entirety. You’ll see how I’ve managed to create a vintage farm-themed bedroom with more examples of typography than I can count!




Tutorial: Ruler Growth Chart

Ok, so I’m sure by now you’ve seen the ruler-inspired growth charts on Pinterest, on facebook, in magazines, just about everywhere you look! I usually try to avoid such overdone trends, but as I was working on my son’s vintage farm-themed bedroom, I knew I wanted a way to mark his growth. I did a lot of research (ok, so I was just killing time on Pinterest!) trying to find inspiration for a growth chart that would fit his room’s theme, but not be too childish. One of the things I was drawn to the most was vintage advertisement rulers (I know it’s real shocking that I would like advertisement designs). My husband’s grandparents owned a hardware and general store for decades in our hometown, so I thought I might try to create something that said “Ryker’s Hardware Store” or “Jackson Hardware.” After looking through my pile of salvaged boards, I decided to use a 1×4 painted trim board which turned out to be too narrow for much of a design. I gave in and decided to go with something very similar to all of the ones on Pinterest.

Here’s the board I started out with. It was painted white and the paint itself was crackling (or is it cracking? I can’t decide). Anyways, it was dirty, dented and full of imperfections.


But not quite enough imperfections for my taste. So I set it out in the grass and Ryker and I beat on it with a hammer, screwdriver and whatever other tools we could find. Then came the experimentation. Like I said, the board was painted, but I wanted something that looked more like wood. Not being one to do any extra work, I decided to see what would happen if I simply applied stain on top of the paint. Bring out the old sock rags! I rubbed and rubbed the stain into the board, making sure to get into all of the little nooks and crannies left by the beating. (Poor board!) The effect was exactly what I was going for!


After letting it dry a few days, I used my tried and true method of tracing the numbers onto the board, filling them in with a sharpie marker. (More detailed instructions coming next week when I post another sign tutorial!)


Couple of really IMPORTANT NOTES: I placed the 1-foot mark six inches from the bottom of the board, because I had already determined that the board would hang six inches off of the floor. I didn’t want it to hang in front of the baseboard trim. I also made the mistake of marking the sections between the 1-foot marks into eighths, just like a standard ruler. In hindsight, I would have marked twelfths instead so it would have represented inches, instead of eights of a foot. Make sense?

Despite spending a few more days in the shed drying, the entire board was still somewhat tacky. I’m guessing it’s because you aren’t supposed to stain paint? So I let it sit another week or so, then took it out in the yard and coated it (I mean really coated it!) with a matte finish spray sealer. Another few days of drying and it was ready to hang! I used a rusty wire and a couple of short screws to make a hanger along the top. Then I put a screw into a stud making sure that when it hung down it would be exactly six inches off of the floor. And just to make sure it didn’t go anywhere, I applied a couple velcro-type picture hangers to the middle and bottom of it and pressed it firmly onto the wall. Since Ryker was almost 2 when I made the growth chart, I used his baby well-check records to go back and mark his height from birth up. So there you have it, one bonafide ruler growth chart – straight from Pinterest!