Antiqued Subway Art (Scout) Sign with Hooks

For the last few months I've had the privilege of working with a group of really great boys in the Cub Scout program as a Webelos Den Leader.  I wanted to give them a little gift for Christmas so when I saw that the Scout slogan is 'Do A Good Turn Daily' I knew right away that I wanted to put it on a sign for them.

Now, I realize that most 10 year old boys would prefer a small bag of candy over a sign for their room (and it would have been a whole lot easier and cheaper too) but I went ahead with the project anyway.  I figure that even if they only look at it a few times, if it reminds them to do something nice for someone else and they follow through with their thought, then the time put into making the signs would be worth it.

Before I get into telling you all about how I made the signs I want to first tell you about the hooks.  Originally I wanted to put wood knobs on the signs, but I was making 12 of them and it would have cost more than I wanted to spend.   Then I thought that wood pegs might work, but I couldn't find the right size.  I was at Lowe's and decided to just walk around the store and see if I might be able to find some kind of hook that maybe wasn't even meant to be a hook, but was strong enough, cheap enough, and would work well enough.  After about 15 minutes of wandering around I found the answer to my dilemma on the electrical isle--cable clips!

Large EZ-Cable Clips
Sorry for the terrible picture--gotta love Winter lighting!

The cable clips come in a package of 15 and cost just over $3.  They are meant to attach cable cords to walls so they aren't as heavy duty as a knob would have been, but they are strong enough to hold a hat or a tie which is all I needed them to do.  I painted the clips with two coats of oil rubbed bronze spray paint and then sanded them a bit to make them look old.  I was happy to discover that the white paint looked silver when they were distressed which only added to the look I was going for!

How to Make An Antiqued Subway Art Sign
(Size: 5 1/2" x 12")

Supplies Needed
  • 1"x 6"x 12" board (really only measures just over 5")
  • Electric Sander and/or Sandpaper (A medium grit sandpaper is needed for distressing.)
  • Black Paint (I like to use the sample size paint from Lowe's, it goes on so well!)
  • Contact Paper Stencil (Use a vinyl cutting machine or an x-acto knife)
  • Dark Walnut Stain and a Rag
  • Off White Spray Paint
  • 3 Hooks
  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • 2 Command Strips for Hanging
  • Clear Acrylic Sealer Spray

'Do A Good Turn Daily' Stencil Template
The gray border on the image should be sized to 6" x 12" (or any size with the same proportions). 

Four ways to use the template:
  1. Use the tracing feature in the Silhouette program and cut it out on contact paper to use as a stencil or use an X-acto knife to cut a stencil if you don't have a cutting machine.
  2. Print the template onto white paper.  Trace around the outside edges of the letters onto the board using carbon copy paper.  Paint inside the lines.
  3. Print or Copy it onto scrapbook paper and Mod Podge it onto a board.  You can follow the directions here.
  4. Use the tracing feature on the Silhouette Machine and cut it out in vinyl.
(I left enough room to trim/crop the words off at the bottom of the image before you use it.)
  • Paint the board black, let dry, and then sand down the corners and edges with an electric sander. Dust wood with a damp cloth or paper towel.
  • Cut out the stencil and center it on the board leaving enough space at the bottom for the hooks (if desired). (Holding the board and contact paper in front of a sunny window helps when centering it.)
  • Spray paint over the stencil (in light even coats) and let dry slightly.  Carefully pull the contact paper off of the board, you might want to use tweezers.

Tip:  Take a straight pin and carefully slip it under the contact paper and then simply lift up on the pin to remove the inside parts of the stencils.

  • Allow the paint to fully dry and then lightly sand over the top of the board with a wood block and sandpaper.  Sand away the black paint in some areas to expose the raw wood.  (The block helps to keep the sandpaper flat so it doesn't sand too heavily in one area.)  Clean with a damp cloth or paper towel.

  • Dip a rag in dark walnut stain and then lightly wipe it over the top and edges of the board.  Quickly wipe off any excess or dark spots with a clean rag.  Stain the back of the sign. (Old white undershirts make great staining rags.) The stain will give it an antiqued look by darkening the words and staining any areas of bare wood dark brown.  After the stain dries, lightly sand over the edges in a few areas to lighten them up a bit more.
  • Spray the sign with 2-3 light coats of acrylic sealer (this brings out the color and also seals the stain that is over the paint, otherwise it might rub off).  
 In the picture below the top board has not been distressed or stained, the bottom board has.  Distressing makes any paint that bled from stenciling less noticeable.  If you don't like the distressed look though go ahead and skip that step. 

  • Because I had twelve of these to make, I made a guide to show me where to drill the holes for the hooks.  I measured it out, poked a hole through the paper, and then used a pencil to mark the spot.

Tip:  The holes should not be drilled all of the way through the wood.  Measure the length of the screw next to the drill bit and put a piece of masking tape around the bit.  This will show you how deep to drill the hole.
  • Drill the holes and then attach the hooks. 

Hanging the Sign

I've been a mom long enough to know that if this sign came home with my son without a way to hang it, most likely it would never get hung.  Sad, but true.  If it came into the house with a hook on the back and I had to get the level, stud finder, and find a nail to hang it, I'm pretty sure it would sit around for a few months until I "found the time to hang it".  Now, let's say that the sign came with command strips on the back of it (with directions) and simply needed to be stuck to the wall, (with no need to find a stud, level, or nail) the chance of it actually making it onto the wall would dramatically increase, so that's what I did and I hope the signs made it onto the boys walls. :) 

All twelve signs.

Even if you don't have a need to make a dozen signs with the scout slogan on them, this tutorial can be used for any name or quote that you'd like to use.  Stenciling a child's name on the sign would be so fun, don't you think!?

Now go and do a good turn today! :)

Today's Fabulous Find...Cable Clips

Sharing at these fabulous parties!
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Jodi S said...

interesting that you said you used contact paper.. does this work as well as vinyl?? I always see people use vinyl for projects like this- but i do have contact paper too! Thanks for sharing & LOVE This sign :)

Janet said...

Thanks Jodi! Contact paper does work well for stenciling and it's so much cheaper than vinyl! I buy white contact paper at Wal-mart and it seems to cut better than the contact paper I bought at a dollar store. I even used contact paper in the place of vinyl for some wall art I made for my son's room. It hasn't peeled at all and looks just like vinyl: http://todaysfabulousfinds.blogspot.com/2012/09/boys-room-wall-art-with-chargers.html I've also read that clear contact paper works in the place of transfer paper but I haven't had a chance to try it yet.

Karen said...

I love how they turned out! You are a great den leader Janet:) I don't think I would have gone to all that work. What a great reminder for all of us:)

Katie said...

Love this sign! Great job.

Jan said...

What a great idea and you made something that I would keep forever for my child. You created a keepsake that is a lovely reminder of a special time in their lives.

lynn said...

awesome, janet! love those clips. thanks for sharing:)

Julie{isCocoandCocoa} said...

What a great project! I've got two boys in Scouts right now and I think a sign like this would be a great addition to their room. Thanks for sharing!

teryl said...

Great project!
I've been a Bear Leader and Webelos Leader and a mother of 3 sons and I'm sure the boys loved these.
The best part is they're practical (can hang things up), inspirational, and decorative all at the same time.
Thanks so much for sharing your project and for the instructions.


Janet said...

Thanks Teryl! You hit my goals for the sign spot on! :)

Brooke said...

This is so great! I love the quote, the sign, and your tutorial is so helpful. Thanks so much for sharing! Have a great day!

b said...

This is really awesome. I love the quote and I appreciate you giving such detailed how-to instructions. Pinning this on my "tempting tutorials" board.

Lynette said...

Great idea. You are so creative! I love that you can even use your crafting skills with the scouts. :)

Kayla Janachovsky said...

I love this!! I host a DIY link party every Monday and would love for you to join! http://homecomingmn.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-diyers-link-party.html


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