DIY: Distressed wood sign

When opening The Handle Bar in South Boston last June, there were many successes that happened along the way as we designed the studio… By far my favorite success story is the big HB sign that hangs over our front desk. Not only is it an icon of our first studio, but it was handmade by two instructors – myself and a brand new HB instructor, Cara Tramontozzi. Cara and I were feeling ambitious and extra creative last spring, and decided to take on this ‘from-scratch’ project.

Boy did it work out.  And it was SO doable. I’ve received so much love for the handmade gem this year that I knew we’d have to do it again for our second location, and today we did! This time around I documented the whole process and have laid out the steps that we took to construct this mammoth centerpiece. You could do this at home with just a few tools and something beautiful or inspiring to paint on it’s front. (An awesome quote in cool typeface would look sick!)

Anywhoo, check it out and hit us up with questions or comments on our work. Just like all things relating to The Handle Bar, this project took a little bit of inspiration, a touch of motivation, and some sweat.. but we certainly raised the bar.

What we used:

1. Parts: Seven 9’x8″ wood boards, Two 6 foot 2″x4″s, Fourteen 1 5/8″ screws

2. Equipment: Paint Brushes, Drill, Electric Sander, projector, lap top.

3. Paint: Brown color for base, White color for topcoat. (Additional colors for artwork)

STEP ONE: Prep the boards

Paint the boards with the base color, brown. One coat is enough.. use a paint brush rather than roller as the brush strokes are lovely:)


Coat all boards including the sides and ends and let them dry.


Paint the top coat, white. One coat will do, use a brush again for this coat! Let dry completely.

IMG_1464Using an electric sander, gently work away some of the top coat to reveal the brown underneath. Focus on the edges of the board and the natural grain of the wood for the best results.



STEP TWO: Build the sign

Lay the 2″x4″s parallel to each other, where you would like to screw the sign (about 6 inches in from either side of the boards). Lay the boards over the 2″x4″s to your liking. (We staggered ours for a funky effect.)



Using the appropriate drill bit, drill pilot holes through the boards and into the 2″x4″s.


Using the drill, put the screws in place to secure the sign together.


STEP THREE: Outline your art.

Put the sign upright, on a level surface. Prop it up so it is a vertical work surface.


Using your projector, project the desired image onto the sign.


Carefully outline the entire image lightly in pencil.



STEP FOUR: Paint the art!

Using the appropriate colors, small brushes for accuracy, and plenty of patience..paint within the lines for a beautiful finished product!





Take a photo with your masterpiece:)



BIG THANK YOU to Cara Tram for all the help on both signs! 
Additional BIG THANKS to Sean and Ryan Fracalossi, and Casey Kane for your help today – great times. #raisethebar


One thought on “DIY: Distressed wood sign

  1. Pingback: Chasin’ the beat at The Handle Bar | Stay Healthy, Stay Happy

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