DIY Wood Sign with Calligraphy Quote

DIY Wood Sign with Calligraphy Quote

I’ve been working on my office makeover for what seems like forever! Finally, I’m nearing the end of the process trying to determine my wall art. I knew I wanted a simple, rustic, DIY wood sign for above my desk with an inspiring quote that incorporated my calligraphy. Picking the right quote was incredibly difficult for me, especially because I can be so indecisive and I changed my mind at least three times haha!

I decided on the quote “Create the things you wish existed,” although I’m not sure of the source of it. I liked this quote because it can relate to all things creative/art/DIY or it can be applied to really any goals in life you wish to achieve!

How to make wooden signs with sayings

Note, this post contains some affiliate links.

This building project doesn’t involve too many tools and it can be done with just a hammer and finishing nails, but I of course used my favorite brad nailer! Or if you really like the calligraphy quote design and don’t want to DIY the wood sign, I’ve included a free 8″ x10″ printable art print of the design below:

(Printables are for personal use only, no commercial use is allowed, thanks!)

How to make a DIY Wood Sign with Calligraphy Quote:


  • “Create the Things you Wish Existed” Printable file (free printable available here)
  • 1/2″ or 3/4″ thick plywood panel at 2ft x 2ft
  • (2) 1×2 @ 8ft.
  • 1 1/4″ brad nails or finish nails
  • Paint for the the sign background (I used Ivory White by Benjamin Moore)**
  • Paint for the lettering (I used acrylic craft paint)**
  • Paint roller
  • Small paint brush or paint marker (for lettering, see step #4)
  • Wood Stain (I used Minwax Provincial)


**Paint – For details on painting signs and the best type of paints to use for DIY wood signs, see this post on How to Paint DIY Wood Signs.


1. Cut wood to size for DIY Wooden Sign with Saying

Using a miter saw, cut your 1x2s to the following sizes (or have your local home improvement store make the cuts for you):

  • Two pieces at 24″
  • Two pieces at 25 1/2″

Note, if you have a custom size sign do two wood pieces cut at the exact length of the top and bottom sides and two at 1 1/2″ plus the length of the left and right sides.

DIY Wood Sign lumber and materials

2. Stain Wood Sign Frame and Paint Wood Sign Backing

Stain all sides (except the back), of your 1×2 frame pieces. For tips on how to stain wood for a beautiful finish, check out my tutorial on how to stain wood.

Then, use a paint roller and prime and paint the front side of your 2ft x 2ft plywood piece. To learn my favorite methods for painting wood signs and the best kinds of paint to use, see How to Paint DIY Wood Signs.

DIY Wood Sign base painted white and stained wood framed pieces

3. Attach wood frame to DIY wood sign backing

Now it’s time to attach the framing to the sign! There are two simple ways you can do this. You can flip the sign over and lay your frame pieces against it, so everything is flat on your surface (shown in the first photo below). Or you can put some scrap 1x thick wood under your sign, leave it face up, and line up your frame pieces (next two photos below).

Attaching wood sign frame pieces to sign backing

I chose to do the second method so I could see exactly how my frame pieces were going to look when attached. Line up one of your shorter frame pieces on the bottom of the sign (use clamps if desired, it does make it easier).

Attaching DIY wooden sign frame pieces to painted sign backing

Attaching wood sign frame pieces to sign backing with clamp

Use a brad nailer or hammer and attach frame to sign with brad nails or finish nails. Repeat for the top frame piece on the top of the sign. You can use extra nails on the top and bottom pieces since they won’t really show when hung on the wall.

Attaching DIY wood sign frame pieces to sign backing with brad nailer and nails

After your top and bottom frame pieces are attached, repeat above steps for the left and right side frame pieces to complete the framing for your sign build!

4. Apply lettering to your DIY Wooden Sign with Saying

Time for the lettering! There are many ways to transfer a print design on paper to a wood sign. And if you have a favorite way I’d love to hear in the comments! I’m going to share two methods here, one method with a vinyl cutting machine (like a Cricut or Silhouette Cameo) and a second method with just a pencil and NO machine or stencil!

Transfer Design Method #1 – Vinyl Stencil Method

The first method is what I originally used, where I printed the calligraphy quote out with my vinyl machine as a vinyl decal and used it as a vinyl stencil on the wood sign (shown in below three photos). Then, I painted two coats of black acrylic paint with a small, art, paint brush, making sure I didn’t put the paint on too heavy to prevent it from seeping under the vinyl.

So, if you have a Cricut, Silhouette Cameo, or other vinyl machine, this is a good method. Check out my post here to learn how to make a vinyl stencil for DIY wood signs. A free printable for tracing the design is available below! Also, I recommend using Oracal 631 Vinyl, it’s a high quality indoor vinyl and removes easily and cleanly from the sign.

Note, if using a Silhouette Cameo, Cricut or craft size cutter, you will need to make the vinyl decal in two sections (12″ x 24″) for this oversized sign which measures 24″ x 24″. In addition to my Silhouette Cameo, I also have a 24 inch vinyl cutting machine that I used to make one large vinyl stencil here.


Transfer Design Method #2 – Pencil Tracing Method (NO vinyl machine or stencil needed)

If you don’t have a vinyl cutting machine, this second method works well too with just a pencil to apply the lettering to your DIY wooden sign with a saying! Although it is more time consuming, it’s very easy!

Have the free design file printed as an enlarged print at your local copy store. Staples and Fedex Office both offer 24″ x 36″ engineering or architectural prints for $3-$5. And I’ve included a free, 24″ x 36″ download of the design available below which you can use!


Then, once you have the enlarged print, use the easy pencil tracing method of transferring a design onto wood. So, first you flip your large poster print over and shade over the lettering that shows through the back with a pencil. Make sure to place a piece of paper underneath to avoid the ink getting on your work surface.

the back of print shaded with pencil for how to put words on wood signs

Flip the poster print back over and secure it to your sign with painter’s tape or masking tape, centered on the sign.

how to make wooden signs with sayings with no stencil

Trace the lettering outline with a pencil with some pressure.

outlining wood sign saying with pencil to transfer image to wood for diy wooden sign

Finally, proceed with painting in your letters after you have the design outline on your wood. For this method, a paint marker or permanent marker works best for tracing over the pencil lines!

using a paint marker to trace lettering on sign for how to make wood sign with saying

Once you’ve painted on your letters, your DIY wood sign with calligraphy quote is complete!

DIY Wooden Sign with Saying on office wall

how to make wooden signs with sayings

DIY Wood Sign with Calligraphy Quote above desk on office wall

I hope this tutorial on how to make a wooden sign with a saying has been helpful! I will be sharing some more office projects in the upcoming weeks as well as my full office makeover reveal!!! Be sure to follow along on Instagram and Facebook for my latest projects, fun updates, and sneak peeks!

Update: You can see this sign in my full office makeover reveal here!


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50 thoughts on “DIY Wood Sign with Calligraphy Quote

  1. I’ve been trying to use your method for sign making and I’m having a hard time making sure the Brad nails go straight through, sometimes I’m off and they poke through. Is my board too thin? I used a 1/4 board and my frame is just a 1×2….any tips?

  2. I should note that they’re aren’t poking through the back because they’re too long, but sometimes they poke through kinda on the side but where the image is, it’s very difficult to nail through 1/4 inch board. Is your board thicker?

    1. Hi Lea, The board I used was 3/4 inch thick, I agree that the 1/4 inch thick is probably too thin. Maybe you could attach a 1/2 inch thick board to the back of your 1/4 inch board to make it thicker? Not sure if that would help or not…it may just be easiest to use the 3/4 inch board instead. Thanks!

  3. I make signs the same way, but find that the oracle 631 sometimes leaves a sticky resedue, have you had this problem as well? What should I do?

    1. Hi Haley! I haven’t had that happen before with Oracal 631…maybe you could try a different brand of paint or waiting longer for the paint to cure before applying the vinyl to see if that helps? I know Oracal says to wait 1-2 weeks before applying vinyl after painting a surface so the paint is fully cured. Hope that helps!

      1. Buy some felt sheets and stick them to it first and peel apart. You will still have enough adhesive but not as much residue

    2. I know I am a little late to this comment but thought if this gets back to Haley it might help her. When we make signs we use Stencil vinyl. Oracle does have one. This isn’t the same kind of sticky so it peels up really easy and leaves no residue on the board and can be used once the paint or stain is dry to the touch. Sometime it will slightly peel the paint if it wasn’t dry enough but it gives it a distressed feel. I hope that helps!

      1. Thanks Anastasia! Do you know what the specific product is from Oracle? I’d love to test some out but they have quite a few different ones. Thanks!

  4. How do you print out a vinyl decal that large? Did you split it into 2 pieces? I can’t tell in the photo if you did…thanks for the tutorial!

    1. I actually have a 24 inch vinyl cutter machine, so that’s how I printed out one large decal. But, if I had used my silhouette cameo machine I would of created the decal in two 12 inch sections and then lined them up on the sign to create the full size design.

  5. Hey! I was wondering where the desk from this wood frame diy was from. It’s beautiful and perfect for my room and I would love to buy it!

  6. Hi there,

    When using the vinyl as a stencil, how do you ensure the centres of letters (e, o, g, a…) remain in the right place? Do you place them yourself by eye?



  7. Hello! What are the fonts you used for this project? I absolutely love this and can think of a few signs I would love to diy. Thanks for sharing!

  8. What color is the stain for the wood frame? Also how do I make my own phrase to print out as an engineering print at Staples This is my first time making a framed wood sign, and I am hoping to make one for my daughter’s room. Thank you so much!

    1. I’m pretty sure I used Minwax Provincial for the frame, which can be found here: For making your own phrase, you can create the design first with a calligraphy or script font. I use Adobe Illustrator for creating my designs, but if you don’t have that, Microsoft Word would work, but you need to change the paper size to your sign size. Then after you create the design, save the file as a PDF which is a good file type for Staples engineering prints. I’m actually planning on doing a blog post soon with a more in depth tutorial on how to make your own phrase/design and I’m going to include an editable PDF template that is already at the correct size. Stay tuned!

      1. Thank you so much! We are decorating my daughter’s room starting on Monday to finally give her a girl’s room. Painting her walls, I’ve been painting an old dresser and desk, and more! So I hope the blog will be in time! I only have Wordpad on the computer so no fancy software. Quick question though..if I find a free printable quote (any size) can I just send it to Staples asking for the larger size print, and have it look right? Trying to find the perfect quote for her princess room! Thank you again!

        1. You’re Welcome! That sounds so exciting about updating your daughter’s room! I plan on doing the post in the next few weeks. And with the editable template I’m going to provide, you just need the free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be download for free online. If you find a free printable quote, you can send it it Staples and have them enlarge it, but you want to make sure it has a high resolution or when the file gets enlarged it may become pixelated or blurry. Hope that helps!

          1. Thank you so much for the help! I am not fully sure how to make sure it is high resolution, but it helps to know I can use one. My handwriting is horrible so I won’t even attempt to try to make a sign freehand! LOL Thank you again for the help!

          2. Hi Melissa! I’m not going to be able to do the post with the template anymore, it didn’t work out the way I wanted it too. So, I hope you were able to find a printable that works!

          3. I haven’t yet, but it’s alright. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know, and for remembering me!

    1. I have a 24 inch Graphtec vinyl cutter that I used. But you can also do it with a craft size cutter like the Cricut or Silhouette Cameo, and create the decal in two 12 inch sections and then line them up on the sign to create the full size design.

  9. I just love your blog, thank you for posting such awesome ideas and responding to everyone so kindly! I have been wanting a vinyl cutter for years but wanted to make sure I could justify the cost. I am wondering what the process is to design your quote. Can you do that through the vinyl cutter or do you have to have another application like illustrator to design? Thank you in advance for your time!! πŸ™‚ Haley

    1. Thank you Haley, that is so sweet!! You can do quote designs within the vinyl machine software. So, for a silhouette cameo, the software is called Silhouette Studio which comes with the machine when you buy it. You can also import any JPG design or graphic into Silhouette studio and turn it into a cut file by tracing it. I show how to do that in this post:
      For the “Create the things you wish existed design” in this post, I designed it in Illustrator because the calligraphy part is my own hand lettering that I digitized and vectorized in Illustrator, which is my preferred design program to use. Then, I brought the JPG file of it into the vinyl machine software. Hope that all makes sense!

  10. I have tried clicking on the link to see the wood planks you use but the link is not working πŸ™ Let me know because I bought the stain and I think boards you used look gorgeous!

  11. Hi! I’m new to making signs and have been using Oracal 631 and 651 to apply straight to the sign (as opposed to creating a stencil. Have you ever used this method? I’m worried about the letters peeling with time but haven’t been able to find any info on whether this will be an issue or not. Thanks so much! Your sign is beyond gorgeous.

    1. Thanks!! Yes I have used just Oracal vinyl before on signs for the lettering/designs. For those signs that I made a few years ago with just the vinyl, I haven’t had any peeling issues. Since you’re using Oracal, which is a high quality vinyl, it can last several years or longer for indoor signs. I think the oracal 651 (which has outdoor durability) can last much longer, so you may want to use that for extra long term durability. The letters may peel over time, but I’m not sure how many years it would take, and I would think that it also depends on humidity levels and other environmental factors. But I don’t think it’s anything you need to worry about happening right away unless the vinyl had initial issues with sticking to the surface.

  12. I saw a very similar sign the other day in the ultrasound dept of my hospital. I have been so sick, and when I saw that sign I didn’t have my phone with me. I had the nurse write the quote down for me because I love that quote, and I didn’t want to forget what it said. The nurses didn’t know who made it or where it came from.
    Who ever made it used the bead board paneling and painted it white and made the frame like yours. It had the same calligraphy and lettering, so they must have it got it from you!
    I am thrilled that you have posted this!

    1. Thanks so much for letting me know Angela! I love hearing about others who have made the sign and I’m glad to hear it’s in a good place!!

  13. Hi can you please tell me the brand name of the 24 in vinyl cutter you used? I was thinking about purchasing the US CUTTER which is 34in. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

    1. It was the Graphtec ce6000-60. It worked great and I never had any issues with it. It is definitely an investment though, so I would recommend it if it’s something you are going to use often. Another brand that I’ve heard great things about is the Roland. I don’t know much about the US Cutter brand as far as performance goes.

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