Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 1- Where to find wood

So you want to start making some wooden signs? Let's talk about what to start with- the wood of, course.

We'll be discussing lots of inspiration, other supplies and methods to make them later, but you've gotta get your base first!

Where to find wood for your signs:

Home Depot Lumber Aisle (source)

1. Home Improvement stores-
  • 2 x 4's etc, luan boards, mdf - usually the store will cut them for you for free! I've had luan and mdf cut into 8x10's or 11x14's. And long boards cut into several sections. They say that they charge after a few cuts, but I have never ever been charged at any Home Depot I've ever visited- your experience could vary.
  • Fence posts - love these for textured signs
  • Cabinet doors
  • Scrap wood- can be found on the "cull cart" usually in the back of the store near the saw for long boards and is often wood that was cut for someone else but the measurements were wrong. (You can't exactly guarantee that their measurements will be perfect when they do them for you! If you need absolutely perfect cuts, you may want to invest in a saw of your own, usually they get close enough for sign making!)
  • Paint sticks - only take these if you are buying paint! They actually moved them at my Home Depot to where only they can reach them!
  • Wood shims - these are slightly angled, but two put together make one small even board
  • Other options- just take a walk around the store for inspiration, textures, shapes and sizes of all kinds of wood!

Adventures in Creating's Pallet sign (source)

2. Pallet wood
  • Pallet wood is all the rage these days....if you happen to have access to safe, clean pallets that can easily be taken apart, they can be a great option.
  • Be aware that there are dangers to dealing with pallets, so take caution. They're not an option I've ever used because I haven't found a good place to get safe ones. Definitely avoid food related pallets and read more about dangers and precautions and lots of other pallet wood tips at Funky Junk Interiors. Donna is the queen of pallet signs and projects (and queen of junk!). Love her!

Nashville Craiglist Barnwood for sale

3. Craigslist
  • I see Craigslist ads all the time for free wood. Check the ads in your area periodically for scrap wood from home improvement projects, floor installation, etc.  This is often a good way to get old wood.
  • Barnwood or old fence posts are usually sold, not given away. People are starting to catch on to the barnwood craze and are smartly making some cash off of their old wood.
  • Always be careful with your transactions (meeting up with people from online!) and be careful that you inspect the wood thoroughly before you hand over any money or load it up! You don't want filthy bug infested wood (unless you are willing to clean it up!) AND remember you're always taking your own risk at purchasing wood that you don't truly know where it came from.

This cute kitchen sign was made over a purple thrifted sign (source)

4. Goodwill, thrift stores, yard sales, etc.
  • Look for cheap ugly signs that are in good condition.
  • You can easily cover up over ugly designs, sanding down or painting over old designs.

Sign from fence posts (source)

5. Old fence posts and barnwood
  • Tearing down an old fence? Got a dilapidated barn nearby that your family or someone you know owns? See if you can salvage (with permission!) some of that gorgeous old wood!
  • Again, there are risks to this- rusty nails, splintered planks!

Signs made from scrap wood (source)

6. Scraps
  • Doing some home renovations or know someone who is? Use your old wood you're tearing out or scraps from new projects to make new signs, or ask your friends, neighbors, family what they are doing with theirs and if you can have some. They may be happy to have you take some of their "trash" off of their hands.
  • Use old cabinet doors, moulding, old windows, to make unique signs.

Help Wanted sign I made for my sis-in-law
(whose husband is Mexican and boys are blonde)
Don't really pay attention to what it says,
but the fact that a craft store plaque makes a great sign!

7. Craft Stores
  • Joann's, Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and maybe even craft sections of other stores carry lots of different shapes of wood plaques and signs that are ready to paint.
  • Don't forget to use mobile, newspaper, and home mailing coupons to buy things at these stores! There is almost always a great discount to be had from a coupon if wood items aren't on sale.

Sign made from driftwood.  You can't fake that weathered look! (source)

8. Driftwood
  • Stick shaped driftwood may not work, but I've come across several great pieces of wood that have washed up along the beach that were perfect for signs.
  • Flat dried palm tree trunk pieces that are beat around the shore are a great option too.

Beach Sign from Habitat ReStore scrap wood (source)

9. Habitat Restore
  • Check here to see if you have a local Habitat ReStore. They sell all kinds of items that are donated from renovations, some beat up items, some new or almost new in great condition. In your case, beat up old wood may be perfect!
  • You'll get a great price and help a great cause.

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list! Got any other ideas for where to get wood for your signs! Let us know in the comments!

See all my 31 Days of Making Wood Signs posts so far!

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