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How To Make A Custom Sign Without Power Tools


  1. Wood boards. I used 1/8 thick basswood. Other wood would also work, but this is what I had on hand and it would make it lightweight.
  2. Wood trim. I found this at my local hardware store and picked out a trim I liked.
  3. Miter box and saw
  4. Ruler and/or tape measurer
  5. Wood glue and Gorilla glue
  6. Pencil to mark your measurements.
  7. Paint. I picked specific colors then went to my local hardware store and asked for paint samples (1 pint) in those colors.  
  8. Paint brushes. I used sponge brushes to help reduce the paint stroke lines. I also used silicone brushes to apply my glue.
  9. clamps
  10. Stain or use my wipe off method mentioned below, which you will also need brown paint and baby wipes or a paper towel.
  11. Glowforge or other laser cutting design to cut your design. You could also use rub on stencils, stencils, vinyl, wood burning tools, or many other materials depending how you want your sign to look. You can also find precut wood letters, flowers, and other designs at craft stores or Dollar Tree.
  12. Picture hanging hardware


  1. Determine the size you would like your signs to be. Then gather wood and trim.
  2. Cut wood base down to size if needed. Many hardware stores will cut your wood down for you.
  3. Cut your trim down to size according to your wood base, with 45 degree angles at each end.
    • I used a hand saw and a miter box and cut my trim by hand.
    • If your trim is not exactly the same on all edges, then you will need to pay extra attention to which way your 45 degree angle needs to be. I had to cut off the ends each time to get the 45 degree agnel facing the correct way.

4. Sand the edges of your trim to make sure they are smooth and even.

5. Create your design or find wood cutouts to create your design. I used a program called Inkscape to create my designs. You could also use Cricut Design Space to create your designs and cut your design out of vinyl instead of wood. Some Cricut machines can cut wood depending on how intricate the design is. 

  • Paint, spray paint, and/or stain your wood pieces.
  • I spray painted my words and flower cutouts. I found spray paint is a lot faster and is a nice even coat. You could paint them by hand if you wish.
  • I wanted very specific colors for my backgrounds, so I picked up paint from my hardware store and painted the background by hand with a sponge brush. I recommend a sponge brush, because a bristle brush will leave more brush strokes.  

6. Once your pieces are dry, you can begin to glue everything down.

  • I started with my words. I used the wood my words were cut out of to help me line things up and space everything evenly. (see my video for more demonstration on this)
  • I then lined up my trims and glued them in place making sure the corners all lined up nicely. I used clamps to hold my trim in place while the glue dried. This insured thing did not get hit or shift while drying. Some of my trim did not lay completely flat. So, the clamps also helped these to glue down flat. I also placed some felt between my clamp and my wood to help protect my wood from getting damaged by my clamps.
  • I then glued all my flowers and extra pieces down.
  1. Once everything is glued and dry, flip over your signs and add your picture hanging hardware. I just used Gorilla glue to glue mine to the back of my signs.

So, what do you think of the new signs and colors? These signs took a lot of time to make and design, but I love how they turned out. They look like something I might have bought from a store, but it is completely customized and my own, which makes them even more special! I think adding the trim to frame my signs is what really takes them to the next level and make them look high end. It is always nice to freshen up a space, and these bright colors and new desk make me inspired to craft.

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