Vintage Signage: Aging Boards

So… I wasn’t meaning to take a week off, but we had family in town for a visit and it was lovely to unplug and spend time catching up.  I’ll have more on what we were up to with the October Re-cap next week.  But for now, I’m feeling rested and inspired and ready to handle the 23 comments that got trapped in my spam folder.  For some reason, this photo is a HUGE spam attractor.

I’ve been flooded with spam comments attached to it and I’m not sure why.  So glad I’ve used it on my blog twice now.

Anyhow… after all that beautifully sanded and stained wood that I shared with you earlier, I have to show you what I’ve been up to lately.  Let’s just say it’s a little more… ahem… rustic.

Since the beginning of the year, I have been wanting to create a vintage sign for Tyson’s office.  He has this large wall above his computer and we both agree that it would be really cool to have an old, hand-painted sign that looked like his company had it hanging outside it’s establishment a hundred years ago.

Attempt #1: Our first thought was to use salvaged wood.  It comes already aged and you’re doing something good for the environment.  But as I walked around our local salvage yard, I was having a hard time finding exactly what I had envisioned and something that wouldn’t weigh a thousand pounds.

So through the magic of Pinterest I started keeping my eyes out for how to age your own boards.

Attempt #2: I found one tutorial that the gal beat on some boards with chains, a hammer and screwdrivers.  Once it was “textured” she then soaked a steel wood pad in balsamic vinegar and “stained” the boards with that.  I gave it a try and my results were not as wonderful as what I had pinned.  My “texture” looked a little too planned.  Also, the steel wool had something on it that turned the board blue.  And lastly, the whole thing smelled funny. (duh!)

Attempt #3: And just as I was starting to wonder if I would be able to tackle this project, Beth at “Sunshine on the Inside” created this beautiful lemonade stand for her kiddos and she gave a great tutorial on how she aged the boards herself.  YAY!!  You may remember that I featured Beth’s Houndstooth Pouf.  She is a very talented lady!

So for about $30 in supplies I picked up half inch plywood boards from Home Depot and the stains that Beth had recommended: Dark Walnut and Ebony.

This project was perfect for a staining novice like myself.  Because I was wanting a rustic look, once the boards were cut to size, I skipped any sanding and went straight for applying the stain.  I started with the ebony and my first attempt was WAY too heavy. Yikes!

I flipped the board over and started again.  With a minimal amount of the ebony stain, I went over the entire boards, wiping off the excess as I went.  I quickly got the hang of it and love the results.

It was really fun to take my time and keep applying stain until I got the vintage tone I was wanting.  I definitely want to try working with stain more in the future.

Then it was time for the dark walnut stain.

This second application really brought out the details in the boards.

Beth had also recommended staining the boards before assembling the project so the tint gets on the edges and in between the boards which was a great tip!  Once everything was complete, Tyson was able to hammer the boards together and get the sign ready to be hung.

He added three boards across the back to hold them together and give the sign support.

We’re still kicking around ideas on how we want to hang this on the wall once it’s finished.  But for now, it’s put together and ready for the design work.

Now comes the hard part… not screwing up these gorgeous boards.  I’ve got to tell you, I’m a little nervous.  I’m hand painting the lettering and this can be amazing or really, REALLY bad.  I’ve got my sketch and I’m ready… fingers crossed.

Have you worked with stain before and achieved great results?  Have you had any Pinterest projects that didn’t go according to plan?  Did you throw in the towel or did you find a plan B?

And I’d like to say a huge “thank you” once again to Beth for sharing her project.  She was a life saver and gave me the confidence to try something new.  Check out “Sunshine on the Inside” here.

UPDATE: To see the finished sign, click HERE.

Hand-painted Pixelgarden Sign |


  1. Stacey says:

    Looks like it’s going to be Suuuuper cool! Of course you know I love to stain things. I’m like the Karate Kid… wipe on.. wipe off. Except sometimes I wipe off too soon and have to wipe on again. HA HA! It’s a blast watching the wood change in front of your eyes! You did a great job and it looks old and weathered.

    My thoughts will be with you as you hand paint the lettering! Oh goodness… that’s making me crazy just thinking about it. Not because YOU can’t do it… because you totally will… but because I get crazy when I do detailed stuff like that. I end up holding my breath during the whole process trying so hard not to let me fingers get away from me… that of course they always do. Breathing is required! 🙂
    Looking forward to the final reveal. Such a great project to do together!

    • Danielle says:

      Stacey… I totally thought of you through this whole process. I really can’t wait to try staining something a little less rustic.

      And I’m completely terrified of the lettering! I keep hoping that I’ll wake up one morning and magic elves will have taken my sketch and painted the sign for me during the night. So far, no such luck. Thanks for cheering me on… I have a feeling I’m going to need it.

  2. Alex @ northstory says:

    I have a suggestion on if you want to age it more. Just send the wood to me for about a month and I’ll leave it on my living room floor. I guarantee you my kids will antique it to perfection in under 30 days just by being in the same room as it. Nothing stays new in our house. Ever.

    Love how it looks! Totally understand the nervousness of stenciling. I royally screwed up a DIY for my husband this year that I have still not posted about b/c I am so angry about the product I used. Are you hand painting? Using stencils? Do a rough draft on some wood first to see what formula you find the best and then go from there.

    • Danielle says:

      Ha!! We’ve given up on trying to have nice things a LONG time ago in our home. Between kids and dogs and our own crazy blunders… well let’s just say everything we own has a nice patina on it. 🙂

      Thanks for the tips. I’m planning on free handing the whole thing; it’s so huge I think trying to work with a stencil may make me even more nervous. I have a pretty steady hand (typically) so I’m hoping I won’t need a stencil, but I will play with a scrap piece of wood just to be safe. Thanks again!

  3. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes says:

    I’m sure it wasn’t funny to you, but a blue-stained, vinegar-smelling piece of “art.” Totally cracked me up. Probably because it’s so something I can relate to.

    Your second attempt is seriously authentic looking. It really does look old. I don’t envy you the second part of the project, though. That’s the kind of thing I need to leave the room for… which is always a challenge if you’re the one supposed to be completing it. Can’t wait to see the end result!

    • Danielle says:

      The vinegar thing was so annoying, especially after how easy it was to use actual stain. Will just put that in the “Pinterest making life harder than it needs to” category.

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