Welcome Door Sign from Wood Slices

Our neighbor decided to cut a tree that was too close to the house and damaging it. When the tree service guys came and started cutting it away, they asked us if we wanted to keep some of it. Naturally, we said yes. We saved some big stumps that we will make some cool things with when they’re all dried up and many smaller branches. I’ve used part of one to make this project – wood slices that I ‘burned’ and hand painted into a welcome sign on our front door.

Below are the materials I used and the steps I followed.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS:

  • wood to slice, or already pre-cut slices 
  • saw
  • sander and sanding paper 
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • electric drill with drill bits
  • twine
  • chapstick or wax (optional)
  • paper 
  • scissors
  • pins (optional)
  • brush(es), one fine point
  • black paint
  • empty, clean container 
  • mod podge, gloss
  • nails
  • hammer

Time: 8 hours
Difficulty: Medium

STEPS:

If you already have pre-cut wood slices, proceed to the drilling step; otherwise follow these steps to cut your slices. 

  • Take the wood branch you’re working with and mark your slices with a pencil. Mine are about 1/2″ wide. I tried to keep them uniformly thick but that was nearly impossible.
  • Using a saw, start cutting the slices you need. Make a couple of extras while you’re at it, in case you’ll need replacements later. I did.
  • Let the wood slices dry, especially if they’re from freshly cut wood. It could take weeks for them to be fully dry, depending on conditions. I let mine dry for a little over a month. 
  • Using a sander and a medium grit sanding paper, sand the wood slices. 
    P.S. I messed up here and did this step after I already put the rope through. No big deal, but it more makes sense to be done now.
  • Arrange the slices in the order you’ll want them arranged and mark the places you’ll be drilling with a pencil and a ruler. My slices are 2″ in diameter, approximately.
  • Measure the thickness of your rope and choose the appropriate size drill bit to make the holes then start drilling. Make sure the drill bit is long enough to come through the other side when you drill.
  • Clean up the wood dust.
  • Time to get the rope through. Depending on what type of rope you’re using, it might be difficult to get it through. I used twine and added chapstick to keep the edges together when getting it through.
    TIP 1: If it’s still hard to push through the rope, use a thin wire or unwind a paper clip and push the rope through the hole with it. It really helps!
  • Don’t cut the rope on the other end because you might need to make adjustments when you’re hanging it at the end.
    TIP 2: I put the rope through now and not after finishing the text for alignment and orientation purpose. I wanted to see how the string looks together so my letters are properly placed on the wood. You can chose to put it at the end and it might work fine that way, too. 
  • Now the hard part (for me at least!) – getting those letters on the wood. After some research, I decided to try the ‘wood burning’ technique of transferring ink by wetting the paper and rubbing over the wood. The text is made with Book Antiqua font and printed reversed on regular paper (Google mirror text if you don’t know how to do this). I printed on regular paper on my home printer and then cut the letters and set them up over the wood. I had some water in a small container that I used to wet my brush and then proceeded to wet the text and press with the back of the brush to make sure the ink transfers properly. The result? Not great because the ink ‘bled’ pretty badly, as you can see. I tried with different letters with same result. those extra pieces of wood that I cut came in really handy here! At this point, I had to make a decision whether I was going to try a different method or the same method with some tweaks, maybe?
  • I printed on a different printer because I suspected that the ink might have been bad (it was refill, not original)  and let the ink dry before transferring to paper. I let it dry for two days, which might have been a bit too long. I’m thinking a few hours might be enough. On my next try, there was no ‘bleeding’ of ink, thankfully, but the text was faded, no matter how much I pressed that wet paper with the back of my brush.
    TIP 3: So, key points here – if you experience ink bleeding on your wood, try a) printing with different ink, b) let the ink dry for at least a few hours before transferring, or c) both.
  •  I needed to make the text a bit darker, so I decided to paint over. I diluted black paint with water and tested until I liked the consistency. With a really fine point brush (finest I can find), I slowly went in and painted over the text, twice.
  • After the paint dried, I applied mod podge following the instructions on the bottle. It’s glossy and it dries clear, which is why I chose to use it. Make sure to cover the sides and the back, especially if your sign will be outside.
  • Time to hang! Once you have your screws in the door (mine were already there from an older door sign), figure out how to hang your newly-made sign. I made a bowline knot on one end, put the sign on, measured where the other one needs to be, made the second knot, adjusted length a few times until it fit just right, then I cut the other end of the rope.

The end!

Check out the second project I made from wood slices.

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