Make Wood Signs with Vinyl Step by Step

How to Make Wood Signs with Vinyl

Check out the BEST How to Make Wood Signs with Vinyl tutorial Here. It includes, supplies, tips, and tricks, and step by step instructions!

Are you wanting to make wood signs with vinyl? Here’s a complete tutorial showing you the supplies I use and the steps I take to make wood signs with vinyl.

I love to make wood signs with vinyl because I don’t have to finish the entire project in one night. I rarely have time to complete any crafting projects in one night with my son running around. Using this process, you can start and stop as needed. Lets get started.

Supplies to Make Wood Signs with Vinyl

1.Pick your base-  Lowes has a great selection of Pine, my favorite, but if you aren’t comfortable with a saw, or have been forbidden from using it because your husband thinks you don’t pay attention, then a blank sign from Hobby Lobby or Michaels are the perfect choice to make wood signs with vinyl.

I like to use Pine when I make wood signs with vinyl.  It stains and paints easy, is smooth and requires little sanding. Also worth mentioning, I can staple a hanger on the back by myself. You can also make wood signs with vinyl from pallet wood, old fence panels, or an old cabinet door! The smoother the wood, the less bleeding you will encounter, but I have tips below to help prevent bleeding!

2. Stain or Paint- My favorite wood stain when I want to make wood signs with vinyl is Rust-Oleum Kona . It comes in several colors and dries in an hour or so, so I can stain my wood while my son is sleeping, apply the stencil I cut out with my Silhouette Cameo 3, and seal it in the same day!

*Remember to work in a well ventilated area and wear a mask if you are sensitive to fumes*

Chalk paint has almost no smell. If you are sensitive to fumes, I recommend using it to make a wood sign with vinyl. It goes on like butter, fills in some or all of the wood dents, and can be distressed in different ways.

Annie Sloan chalk paint is amazing! If you try other brands, and then this brand you will never go back! I pick up my chalk paint at a local boutique, but you can make your own chalk paint, or order it on line too. I love chalk paint over staining when I make wood signs with vinyl because it doesn’t give off the harsh smell that stain does. As a result,  I can paint in the garage while my son is decorating a bird house or watering plants. You might be able to find it in a local boutique, but here’s an amazon link below just in case!


Acrylic paint- If you aren’t quite ready to invest in chalk paint to make wood signs with vinyl, you can use acrylic paint. My favorite one is Americana in White. It dries fast, gives great coverage, compared to other acrylic paints comes in lots of colors, and is affordable! I normally have to do a few coats with this depending on the color i’m using. It also is more likely to peel up when removing the stencil, but a quick touch up can fix any boo boos.


 3. Paint Brush- I like to use foam brushes and just toss them afterwards to apply the paint and stain when I make a wood signs with vinyl stencils. They don’t leave the brush strokes that a regular paint brush leaves, they apply a smooth coat, and you can dab them in an up and down motion when filling in the stencil. This helps prevent bleeding. Because I am cheap, I sometimes cut the tip off of one  and then use it again for the next sign if the paint hasn’t saturated the brush!

4. Oramask stencil Vinyl for stencil or oracle 631- I prefer the Oramask Stencil Vinyl with my cutting machine when I make wood signs with vinyl stencils because it is a little see through. This makes it easier to see where you are placing it on the sign. It also easily tears off in pieces when you are removing it which can be helpful. In addition, the blue film isn’t as sticky as vinyl, but gives a great seal. It is made for making sign stencils. Definitely a game changer for me when I started making signs to sell.

5.Contact Paper-The Contact Paper is used to transfer the stencil from it’s paper backing to the wood. Once you have it on you can use a Scaper like this one to  smooth the stencil onto the wood. I sometimes use a kitchen spatula or plastic spoon when I can’t find mine! =)



6. Stencil- I use my Silhouette Cameo 3 and Silhouette Studio Software, which is included, to create the designs I use when I make wood signs with vinyl. I have been using this brand for several years and just upgraded to the new model.

I used it to cut the stencils for all of the signs below! My Cameo Craft Class group will be learning to use this vinyl in the future to make signs. If you are interested you should join us! It’s an on line instruction on how to make everything step by step!

7. Sealer- After you apply your painted stencil, I highly recommend sealing it. Chalk Paint has a wax sealer you can use, but it has to be reapplied every so often, which I don’t have time for, so my go to sealer for al signs is Minwax Polycrylic in Satin Finish . It comes in glossy too, but i prefer the satin! It doesn’t yellow over time, and can be applied with the foam brushes too!


Steps to Make Wood Signs with Vinyl Stencil

  •  Cut your wood and sand the edges until its smooth. Clean all the excess dust and dirt off with an old cotton shirt or paper towel
  • Apply your stain or paint with a foam brush to one side and let it dry. Once dry, flip and stain the other side. 

    painted signs ready for stencils to make wood signs with vinyl
    I came up with different ideas to put on each sign, and wrote it out before designing in Silhouette Studio 4.1.
  • Cut out your stencil! I like to measure my sign and then draw a rectangle that size in the Silhouette Studio 4.1 software so that i know how big i can make my design. place the stencil material blue side up on your cutting mat, cut on the matte vinyl setting, and then weed out the part you want to fill in with paint. 
Silhouette Studio 4.1 Designs to make wood signs with vinyl
This is what the design software looks like when I set up my designs for cutting Oramask Stencil Vinyl
stencils made for wood signs with vinyl
Weeding the stencil vinyl before applying it to a wood sign
  •  Use contact paper to transfer the stencil to the sign. I like to use it because it’s not too sticky, and it’s clear making placement on the sign easier. You can use other transfer tape, I just prefer contact paper for this particular project. For longer signs it is easier to start at the top and line up the edges of the contact paper with the edge of the vinyl backing paper. Then slowly roll down and smooth with the scraper.
apply contact paper to stencil to make wood signs with vinyl
Applying Contact Paper to Stencil

 Once the stencil is secured to the contact paper, gently lift it off the backing ensuring you pick up all the pieces, and line up the top corners and gently smooth down. For longer signs, keep the backing paper close in case you need to put it under the design. This can aide in lining up the stencil to the sign.

applying contact paper to make wood signs with vinyl
slowly removing the contact paper from the sign
Burnish when you make wood signs with vinyl
Burnishing the transfer tape

Make wood signs with vinyl

  •  Fill in the Design with paint.  Once the stencil is on the sign, use your foam brush to gently fill in the stencil. I like to start towards the middle and work my way out. Make sure you don’t get too much paint. Dab off the excess on a paper plate a couple times before you dab the sign. If your wood surface is bumpy add a coat of Mod Podge to the stencil edges and let dry before you paint. This will help make crisper lines. After 2-3 coats of paint you can remove the stencil. Use a sewing pin to remove the inner parts of A’s E’s O’s etc easily.

make wood signs with vinyl tutorialpainting stencil on oramask to make wood signs with vinyl

If you are newer to stenciling there are tons of places to get designs when you want to make wood signs with vinyl. You can check out the design store here for some ideas including one of my best sellers the Hot Cocoa sign.

  • Seal-One last step to make wood signs with vinyl. Seal that bad boy with a thin coat of Minwax listed above. Let it dry overnight. Here in Houston I let mine dry 2 days.

 If you plan to make lots of signs, these sawtooth hangers are amazing, and less expensive than buying them at the hardware store normally! I attach them with my staple gun, or you could use command strips to hang them too!


Finish projects sold well at my craft show!

Wood Signs at A craft show
Craft Show Display with ornaments and wood signs

I want to see what you create! Join us on Facebook at Cameo Craft Class to share!


Happy Crafting,

Kathy Whimsy Willow Creations


Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links for products I have used to create crafting projects. I am sharing with you. If you plan to craft and purchase from these links, thanks! I get a small percentage that goes towards keeping this site live!