Learn how to make wood signs WITHOUT a Cricut the easy way! All you need is some chalk, a template, and paint pens!
My drawing skills are poor, to say the least. As a child, my mother would tell me I just compared myself to talented kids, and that my drawing skills were fine.
Coming from the women who was typically my biggest cheerleader, this was not a ringing endorsement.
As an adult, nothing has changed. I wish had the skills to at least freehand pretty letters for signs. I do not.
Nor do I have a Cricut. So, I’ve had to improvise.
Making wood signs without a Cricut is actually pretty easy. Simply print out a template, and color the back with white chalk. Flip the template over, and trace the design with pencil onto the sign. This transfers the chalk, and gives you a guide to go over with a paint pen.
It’s certainly more time-consuming than using a Cricut, but significantly less expensive.
In this project, I’ve made a number of small rustic Christmas ornaments with this technique. It was easy, and although the transferred chalked was a little hard to see, it was definitely do-able.
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- Templates – Grab 6 of them here for free, or all 48 for $12 here.
- Scrap Wood – I cut down 1x4s left over from my DIY Box Spring.
- Stain – I used gel stain, because I was working with cheap softwood.
- Chalk – I recommend using chalk the same color as the paint you plan to paint with. I experimented with different colors, and found they mixed with my white paint and tinted it a bit.
- Paint Pens – I’m not a paint pen connoisseur, but I purchased these and they’ve held up well so far.
- Twine – For hanging ornaments
- Tape – I used typical clear tape, but pretty much anything that easily peels off the wood is fine
Step 1: Cut and Stain Wood
1x4s are actually 3/4″ thick x 3.5″ wide, so I cut my pieces into 3.5″ wide squares.
Then I stained them with Varathane’s Dark Walnut Gel Stain. I chose gel stain here because it stains softwood better than traditional oil-based stains. (Thicker stain = less absorption into wood = less blotchiness.)
I gave the stain 24 hours to dry, then worked on the next step.
Step 2: Color Template Back with Chalk
I cut out my templates (grab the 6 free ones here, or the full set here) and colored the back of them with chalk. I really recommend using chalk that matches your paint color, but for the sake of this photo I used pink:
For the record, the other paper is colored with white chalk, you just can’t see it.
Step 3: Trace Design onto Wood
Tape the paper chalk-side down onto the wood.
Then trace the design with a sharp pencil. Don’t be afraid to press hard, which will only help transfer the chalk to the wood.
It’s a faint outline, but it’s enough to properly trace the design.
Step 4: Trace with a Paint Pen
Go over the chalk impression with a paint pen.
For the most part, the chalk impression was enough for me to get a good replica of the design, but if there was a spot I wasn’t sure about, I just glanced at the template and did my best.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
There was still a little stray chalk on a couple of the ornaments, so once the paint was dry I wiped them down with a damp cloth.
Also, since these were intended to be Christmas tree ornaments, I drilled a small hole, and added twine for hanging.
I love DIY Ornaments. Do you have anymore?
Where can I grab the templates you used?
Do you have a video of this project?
The nice thing about these ornaments is that they are easily scalable. I made eight of them before I ran out of podcast, and I still had plenty of materials left.
If you’re purchasing everything new, your constraining factor will be wood. Given you purchase a single 1×4 for this project, you’ll be able to make 26-ish ornaments.
Hopefully you have some of these supplies around already – else this craft gets expensive quickly. I only purchased paint pens and chalk, and spent around $13.
I don’t plan to purchase a Cricut anytime soon, and this method is so easy that I don’t really feel I need to!
Finally, if you’re planning to make these ornaments, be sure to save this post to Pinterest so you can find it again later!