DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer

Today I will be sharing a tutorial on how to make a DIY wood sign using your ink jet printer, and without tracing paper or a Silhouette Machine. I hope everyone had a great weekend and that all the mom’s out there had a FANTASTICAL Mother’s Day! My sister and I took our mom to see the Georgia Guidestones yesterday in the “granite capital of the world”, which she has been wanting to check out since she moved here from Pennsylvania.

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |
{Georgia Guidestones located in Elberton, GA}

I was really surprised that 4 other cars stopped to check out the guidestones during the 10 minutes we were there, especially considering they are in the middle of nowhere. I had never even heard about the guidestones until after I moved to Georgia and there was an episode on the history channel discussing the controversy involved {you can learn more about them here}. However, the best part of our mini road trip was a row of shops filled with antiques and old wood that we stumbled upon on our way back home.

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |

Part of me wants to be selfish and keep this AMAZING discovery to myself because it’s seriously my new favorite store. However, it’s for that very reason that I HAVE to share it. I know most girls get excited over shoes, purses or makeup, but I get excited over chippy reclaimed wood, old shutters and stair spindles, haha. I’m just happy that my mom is the same way so that the stop wasn’t completely selfish :) If you live in Georgia or near Athens, then you may already know about this row of shops, also known as Heritage Heart Pine, located in Carlton Georgia. There are several rooms filled with antiques, vintage clothes, books and TONS of reclaimed wood/materials from buildings and homes as old as the 1700’s!!! As soon as I walked in the store I practically froze because my brain was trying to process everything around and I couldn’t decide which way to go first. Jimmy Poss, the owner, was so nice and helpful and also gave me a little history on some of the different woods.

I’m so sad this place is nearly 2 hours away but that won’t stop me from heading over there at least once a month to check it out and stock up on some treasures. In fact, the piece of wood I used in my “Makeover Monday” project below is from his store. I was originally going to post a different project today, but I was so excited about my “new” old wood that I’ve decided to share the project I worked on last night instead. This was a super easy project that I learned to do from this post, and best of all it was sooooo much fun! I am officially ADDICTED to making wood signs. Seriously.

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer

{Full Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me run and maintain the site, thanks for your support! View My Privacy Policy here. }

Materials Needed:

*May not be necessary, depending on how your text “burns” into the wood*

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |

Step 1:

Depending on the type of wood you are using {new or old}, you may way to paint, sand, or distress it to achieve the look you want. My wood is super old and already had the rustic/distressed look I wanted, so all I did was wipe it down with mineral spirits and give it a light sanding to smooth it out a bit.

 DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |

Step 2:

Print out the word or quote you want to use BACKWARDS. I used Illustrator to create the style and size I wanted for my “I love you to the moon and back” sign, but you could use photoshop, word, etc. The font is “haymaker” from LostType and I then added the arrows using KG Flavor and Frames Two, and created my own, super simple heart and moon graphics {my crescent moon looks more like a banana on my sign, ha}. To make your font backwards in Illustrator or Photoshop, simply highlight your text and click on Object–>Transform–>Reflect – and select vertical, which should be automatically selected. Voila! Your text is now backwards and ready to print! Depending on the size you need, you may need to print it out on more than one page. I separated mine onto 4 different pages.

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |


Step 3:

Tape your Page{s} where you want them on the wood with the ink side facing down, and the blank side facing toward the ceiling. Taping it down ensures that your word/quote will stay in place and not move around or smudge when you complete the following steps.

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |

Step 4:

Lightly brush water on top of the page{s}, making sure to cover all of the letters without soaking the paper.  Afterwards, your words should be legible but Don’t Lift the paper yet!

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |
Step 5:

Gently rub the cap of the sharpie over each letter to “burn” the ink into the wood. You will notice the letters becoming slightly darker. I realized it was easier to “burn” the letters while the paper was still damp, so I worked as quickly as possible and just added a little water if an area was too dry by the time I got to it.

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer | Upcycledtreasures.comYou can see the slight color variation as I rub over the heart with the cap of my sharpie

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer | Upcycledtreasures.comHere is my heart image AFTER being rubbed with the sharpie cap

Step 6:

After you have finished rubbing over each letter, then it’s time to remove the paper, yay!

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |

Step 7:

If there are parts of your letters that didn’t show up or fill out as nicely as you want, you can go back in with a small paintbrush and DILUTED paint, to fill them in. I mixed only a couple drops of black paint with a little bit of water to go over some of my letters. I also realized that the arrows I printed out didn’t show up and I am guessing this is because of the light blue color. I ended up changing the color to black, reprinted that section, re-taped it to the board {making sure it was lined up} and then repeated the process and it worked perfectly. The paper did pill up a bit but I think that’s because the paper is so thin and it didn’t affect the outcome.

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |

Step 8:

You can now lightly sand your board if you want the letters to appear more distressed.

Step 9:

Seal your board with wax or polyurethane to protect it, and if you want to hang it up you can attach twine or rope to the back. I will be doing this later in the week.

Step 10:

Rejoice and enjoy your new sign! Yay! We wanted a long sign to hang over the archway into our dining room and I will update the photos once it’s actually hung up.  I definitely plan to make some smaller signs using multiple boards in the future, like I did with my Relax Wood Sign.

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |


DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer |

Update: So I decided not to hang this above our dining room archway and wanted to cut it in half to make a smaller sign instead. We then drilled holes into the top and added rope so it could be hung. However, now that it’s cut the words are uneven on the boards which sorta annoys me. The good news is I can always make another one. Debating if I should add something to level it out like maybe an exclamation point made out of the same arrow surrounding the “and”. Not really sold on that idea though because I don’t want it to feel like it’s yelling. Can’t decide if I should leave it the way it is, or if I should add something to the end. What do you think? I plan to make more signs to add to my Etsy shop as well in the next couple weeks…

Another UPDATE: After receiving a comment from Ashley asking if this would work for colored ink, I decided to test it out. I first printed out some really small letters and when I went to transfer it, must have used too much water because the ink did transfer, but was runny. I tried it a few more times {with less water} with essentially the same results {the top left was my 3rd attempt with less water}. I then made the font larger and made sure to use A LOT less water than I did with my “love you to the moon and back” sign and it transferred over much nicer.  I think the light colored arrow I was trying to use on this sign wasn’t bright enough and the wood wasn’t light enough, otherwise it would have worked. So the verdict is: Yup, color will print as well – just be extra careful about painting on the water and the bigger the letters the less likely it will be to run. Plus, the bolder the color, the better. That’s what I got from my experience anyway. Of course I only did a super quick sanding on the board before transferring the word over, so more sanding probably would have helped as well. Feel free to share yours in the comments below :) 

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer | Upcycledtreasures.comThe ink was runny because I “painted on” too much water and the letters were too small and close to one another.

DIY Wood Sign Using Your Printer | Upcycledtreasures.comThis was a super quick test but once I made the letters larger and more spaced out, the ink transferred over much better.

If you would like to see more transfers using your printer, be sure to check out my DIY Wood Wedding Signs and DIY French Cottage Tray.

You may also be interested in:

 DIY Family Established Monogram Wooden Sign



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    • says

      Hi Kim! Thanks for stopping by and if you decide to make a sign I would love to see it when you’re finished! All I can say is that this process was SOOOOO easy, I only wish I would have tried it out earlier. I’m not gonna lie, while I was working on it I was so worried it wouldn’t turn out right because it was just too easy. I’ve learned to trust in the process of whatever it is I’m working on, and that seems to help. Plus I’ve realized that if something doesn’t work out,as least I’ve learned something :)
      Upcycled Treasures recently posted…My Favorite Daily Deals Round-UpMy Profile

  1. says

    Hi Katie, this is such a fabulous idea, and one that I’ve never seen before. Kudos to you! Thanks for sharing it with us. I’m off to check out the Georgia Guidestones, which I’ve also never heard of. Have a great day!

    Debbie recently posted…Half Bath RevealMy Profile

  2. Linda says

    Thanks for the great idea. I need a gift in the near future for a baby shower. This is perfect! I love it when “a plan comes together”.

  3. Lisa Lynde says

    Awesome idea! Thanks for the tip! One quick question, did you use a laser printer or an ink jet? Or does it not make a difference?

    • says

      Hi Lisa, I used an ink jet printer. Thank you so much for the comment – I hadn’t realized that was no where in the post so I just updated it. I’m not sure if it would work with a laser printer, but I feel like the ink from the ink jet printer is what gets it to transfer. Thank again!
      Upcycled Treasures recently posted…Vintage Tea Stained American FlagMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks Krista! I did lightly sand over the letters after I did a couple touch ups, but probably only for a few seconds because you are right, this process already gives it that aged look which is pretty awesome. :)
      Upcycled Treasures recently posted…Friday FavoritesMy Profile

  4. says

    Sweet, you’re right, it does seem too easy. But I’m giving it a try, I have a boat load of expensive tools already and really didn’t want to invest in a Silhouette too. Found your project on that DIY Party!
    Tricia recently posted…A Mother’s Day Patio RedoMy Profile

  5. Rebecca says

    You are brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing this! I think that this is something that I can actually handle without having an aneurysm! I also really like ‘you are my sunshine ‘ and I am thinking of trying this method with that saying! Thanks again!

  6. Stori says

    I was just wondering what program you are using on your computer to have the font print backwards.. or does any program have the backward printing font? thank you Stori

  7. Ashley A says

    Does this work with colored ink as well? I seen that it didn’t work on the light blue, just wondering if it worked for you at all in bolder colors.

    • says

      Hi Ashley! To be completely honest… I’m not sure. I would think bolder colors would work like a deep red or deep blue but don’t really know. That’s definitely something worth experimenting with. I will try to test it out tomorrow and get back to you, and if you test it out before me I’d love to hear about the results :)
      Upcycled Treasures recently posted…5 Inspiring Coastal Cottage IdeasMy Profile

  8. says

    Oh geez you make this look so easy! I really really wish I would have tried this sooner too! Love that quote- my mom used to always say that when she kissed us goodnight! It looks cute cut in half and hung– I think it adds to the charm that it’s not perfectly centered :)

  9. says

    That is such a good idea. Every time I want to tranfer a picture or words to a canvas I print out my picture then turn the paper over and rub charcol or pencil on the back. Then I put the picture down on my surface and draw over it. It presses the charcol down and I get the exact picure I want. It’ works great. :) I love crafts!

  10. NICK KERLEY says



  11. Karen says

    I have a question…what did you use to attach the boards, one above the other, when you cut it in half? I am planning to make a larger version of this idea so I will probably have 4 boards ….. thanks, Karen

  12. Irene says

    Thanks for sharing! Not sure if you ever decided to put something at the end of the sign you cut in half but I thought maybe a period at the end in the form of a star might go nicely with the moon?

  13. Jean says

    I love your sign and tried the method, but the ink does not transfer. I know my printer is an inkjet. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • says

      Hmmmm… Not sure why it wouldn’t work, I have used this technique maaaaaaany times since. You may have needed a little more water or could try rubbing a little harder? Have you tried it on a different piece of wood?

      Did you use regular copy paper? I tired cardstock one time but it didn’t work as well.

      Let me know if you figure it out!
      Upcycled Treasures recently posted…The Makers Link PartyMy Profile

      • Erika says

        Hi there, I’m having the same issue! When I wet my paper, it becomes so soggy that I can’t rub it or the paper falls apart :( Also, I was using some rough cedar, and my black ink just looked horrible/smudgy/not legible. Does the wood have to be smooth? Thanks for any advice you can offer!

  14. Jessica says

    Has anyone tried this on a fully painted piece of wood before? I think I’m going to give it a shot but was hoping to see examples if someone has already tried it. Thanks!

  15. Christina says

    I have been painting wood signs for a few years and never saw this idea!! I am so excited to give it a try now…thanks so much for sharing!

  16. Katelyn I. says

    Love this idea! I’m making a sign using this technique for my -1 anniversary with my fiance. (We are getting married in exactly 1 year!) I’ll definitely be stopping back for some more DIY ideas from this site and your wedding blog!

  17. says

    Thanks for the great ideas. I, like you, would much rather go to wood shops, recycle shops, than shoe shopping any day. I visited Carleton geogia a year ago and now I’m sad I missed this place. It looks like it is awesome. Thanks again for sharing your talents and clever ideas. Going to try a few.

  18. Barbi says

    I, too, am curious how this would work on a piece of painted wood. Also, does the type of wood matter? I’m thinking of using something like pallet boards and wonder if their absorbency ability would be different from say a piece of treated wood or something.

  19. Allison says

    Hi! You said you used an ink jet printer. Just curious if another type of printer, laser, would work for this project too?

  20. Carrie says

    I am so happy to have run across this. I’ve been avoiding wooden signs because I can’t hand paint letters but now I have no excuse. I’m going to make Christmas gifts for friends now…yay!!!

  21. Caitlin says

    I was wondering if you could paint the wood a real light color like I’m thinking a very muted mint green and then do the transfer I was thinking about doing a few of these for my newlywed friends for Christmas and wanted to use colors that would match their decor or wedding colors for a few. Love this idea soo much!

  22. Terri says

    Hi! I tried this method on an piece of wood that I had painted and sanded to look rustic. When I tried to transfer the letters from the paper nothing showed up after I peeled the paper off. I tried multiple times. Any tips?? Thanks!

  23. Alivia says

    Ok, love the idea. I did a bit more researching because every time I tried to do it, the water would smudge the ink. So basically, you do the same things but use wax paper the size of regular paper instead. And instead of using water, you would get a credit card and scrap it. It worked nicely with colored and black ink.

  24. Karen says

    Hi, im also busy making wooden boards just with shells and sea grass. And then i really would like to sell them. I loved your tutorial!! And your work! Got me some new ideas…

  25. Samantha H says

    This looks simply stunning! Do you think this would work with a wooden picture frame? I would love to make this as a gift for my best friend but with the words “With a little help from my friends” we are both Beatles lovers. Please let me know! :-)

  26. Carol says

    Love this idea, you have saved me tons of time over stenciling. I was having trouble with bleed through and spacing. Thank you so much!!!


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