If you’re in need of a rustic addition to the decor in your home, look no further than your local salvage store. Among the building materials, you’ll find tons of leftover trim and molding waiting to be used. Help save this discarded wood from the landfills by creating a one-of-a-kind DIY sign that celebrates the unique character of this material through the shape of modern typography.
Materials and tools for your DIY sign
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Assorted recycled trim/molding wood
- Jig/band saw
- Sanding sheets
- Pneumatic nail gun
- Pneumatic nails or staples
- Propane torch, paint or wood stain
- Sawtooth picture hangers
Safety first: When using power tools or a Propane torch, make sure that you always use proper safety equipment and operate the tool following the manufacturer’s specifications.
This project is straightforward and simple, but it does require quite a few steps and a couple of days to put it together. However, once you finish, you won’t regret it! The first step is to make a materials run at your local salvage store. Stock up on all types of recycled trim and molding. To make your finished piece more dynamic, consider stacking trim on top of trim to add a 3D effect.
Once you have your materials, it’s time to draw a stencil of the typography letter, number or symbol. Take your time here and make sure your stencil is exactly how you want it before you cut out the shape. Arrange the wood trim in a pattern that you like and trace your stencil directly onto the wood using a pencil.
Now you can begin cutting out each individual piece using a jig saw or band saw. I recommend cutting out the shape a bit larger than your traced image, so that you are able to sand the edges down and still retain the shape and size you want. The sanding will help fix any errors made during the cutting process.
Just add character
After sanding, you can decide which molding or trim pieces you want to paint, stain or torch. Torching chars the wood to a dark black color and adds character that cannot be replicated. To stop soot from getting everywhere, you will need to seal the wood. As for paint and stain, you may be able to score leftover supplies for cheap from your hardware store’s returned paint section. To add to the distressed look, do a quick sanding over the paint and stain to expose some of the natural wood.
The final step is putting everything together. If you have a larger piece, you can cut out a plywood base and use a pneumatic nail gun to attach the trim on top. This will help secure and strengthen the finished sign.
If you have a smaller piece like mine, you’ll need the pneumatic nail gun to attach the stacked trim pieces to each other using nails and the trim end-to-end on the back using staples. Wherever wood touches wood, add a couple beads of wood glue. Then, just add a sawtooth hanger to the back and you’re done!
Change your wallet and the world
Besides being a fun little project, this eco-conscious DIY sign project can make a big difference to your wallet and the world. Using recycled materials like this salvaged trim just goes to show that being eco-friendly can actually elevate your project in ways that new materials cannot.
About the author
Mateo Londono is a longtime contributor to the Krrb blog, focusing on the construction principles of clothing, furniture and architecture. His most popular contributions include DIY crafts that combine art and reuse of discarded materials. He also writes about projects like this one for The Home Depot. If you are inspired to do a similar project, you can see Home Depot’s selection of nail guns here.