Front Porch Welcome Sign DIY Project

I just love big, wooden front porch welcome signs.  There’s something so charming, rustic, and inviting about a big ol’ welcome sign sitting right by the front door.  I’d always been curious if they were easy to make and, guess what?  Turns out this is a really fun, beginner-friendly DIY project!  Want to learn how to make your own customizable front porch welcome sign?  Keep on reading!

This project is sponsored by Inventables, the company that makes my favorite tool in my garage!  As always, all opinions are mine, all mine. 

How to DIY a Front Porch Welcome Sign

To be honest, I’ve been eyeballing big, wooden welcome signs to rest on my front porch for years. I thought about making one, but, at the time, it always seemed like the project would take a long time!

I even thought about buying a welcome sign, but … any DIYer knows it’s hard to justify spending money on something you can make.

Here’s the good news: the project was a LOT easier and didn’t take a long time to finish!  I should have made this welcome sign YEARS ago!

First things first, you’ll need to gather up your materials.

Materials You’ll Need

To make your wooden welcome sign, gather up the following materials:

  • Wood for the sign backer – I used a 1′ by 12′ by 72″ since I had it on hand
  • Plywood for the letters – I used two scrap pieces of 3/4 inch Purebond plywood I had on hand.  Each measured about 18 inches by 24 inches.
  • Scrap wood for the trim
  • Bit for carving – I used a 1/8 downcut bit from Inventables
  • Wood glue (affiliate link) for trim
  • Stain – I used Minwax Provincial
  • Sander – I have a little Ryobi sander that’s a champ for these projects
  • 120 grit sandpaper
  • Nail gun – I have a Ryobi brad nailer.  You could use a nail and screws or just wood glue (affiliate link) if you don’t have one.
  • Acrylic paint for the letters.  I have a huge acrylic paint set from Amazon that will last me several more decades.
  • Saw for cutting trim – I have a compound Ryobi miter saw that’s overkill for a project like this.  You could easily use a handsaw, too, if you don’t have a power tool.
  • Inventables x-carve – this is my favorite tool!  It’s how I carved the letters.
  • Cut file – for the x-carve, you’ll want to upload the design for your welcome sign.  I used this welcome sign cut file, which you can grab free on this website.
  • Dremel or multipurpose tool to cut through the tabs on the carve
  • Poly to spray the letters and sign
  • Loctite super glue to attach the letters to the sign
  • Command strips or velcro to attach the interchangeable shapes to the sign

For carving projects such as this one, I prefer to use my Inventables x-carve.  An x-carve is an affordable CNC machine that plugs into a computer.  I often think about it like my “garage robot.”  I upload my design into my computer, hit a few buttons, and the machine starts carving!

If you’re new to the idea of an x-carve, please don’t be intimidated.  Honestly, I say this every time I finish a project using my x-carve:  if I can do this, anyone (and I mean, ANYONE) can!

Make the Sign Backer

We had a ton (I mean a TON) of scrap wood sitting in our project, so we actually didn’t need to buy anything to make this sign.  Score! 

We even had big ol’ piece of wood, a 1′ by 12′ by 72″, that we could use as the backer for our sign.  When you buy boards like this at a big box store, they tend to be a little janky.  It took a minute to sand this baby down using my Ryobi sander and some 120 grit sandpaper.

To be honest, the board had a pretty big crack down the bottom.  Since the sign was decorative, rather than functional, I didn’t think it would split further.  But the crack was part of the reason I decided to add trim to the sign backer.

I cut some other scrap wood I had on hand to fit along the top and bottom of the panel, using a pencil to measure each piece to fit.  The scrap wood pieces were a 1 by 3 and a 1 by 4.   

I actually LOVE how the sign looks all trimmed out.  The trim visually balances the weight of the letters.  It’s always fun to see what “blips” along the way end up making the project even better!

I stained and used poly on the sign backer, using my favorite stain: Minwax provincial.  I swear everything in my house is stained that shade, lol.  

Decide on Your Design

For the letters, I knew I wanted to use rustic letters for the word “welcome” spaced evenly down the board.  My lightbulb moment happened when I realized that I could make the “o” in the word “welcome” different shapes for each season.

That way, our front porch welcome sign could be customizable, with a different shape for each season.  Like, a pumpkin in the fall, a snowflake in the winter, a flower in the spring, and so on!

I started by using this free fall welcome sign cut file.  This cut file gave me all the letters I needed, plus the pumpkin for fall.  

All of the other shapes for different seasons were downloaded free from the noun project.  

Upload Your Cut File

Next, you’ll want to upload your cut file into EaselEasel is the software that the x-carve uses to design the carve.  I uploaded my design in a particular way to make sure my letters were appropriately sized to my board. 

First, in Easel, I set my project dimensions the size of my big wood panel, then uploaded my welcome sign cut file into the project.

To do this, click on file, then import SVG.  Then I resized the file, making sure everything was selected, so that the letters fit the sign backer the way I wanted. 

In Easel, this looked like the screenshot below:

Then, I opened up two more workspaces in easel and sized them to the dimensions on my two plywood pieces. 

I copied and pasted the word “welcome” and the pumpkin over to my plywood piece.  When you do it that way, it copies and pastes the letters without changing the size.  

So, now the letters and pumpkin were sized on my plywood piece just right to fit my sign backer.  

That workpiece looked like this in Easel:

I then created a third workspace and uploaded my other seasonal shapes.  I copied and pasted over my pumpkin to use it as a size reference so I could resize the popsicle, leaf, snowflake, and other objects to be similarly sized to the pumpkin.

Then I deleted the pumpkin from this third workspace since I already had it in the second workspace.

It’s important to note that I only carved two of my three workspaces.  The first one, with the big welcome sign backer, was only used to size and scale the letters.

You can see the size of how the first carve ended here:

Choose Your Bit

For this project, I used a 1/8 inch downcut bit from Inventables.  When using plywood, choosing the right bit is super important. Upcut bits can rip out your plywood causing lots of splintered edges.

Below you can see the bit and cut settings I used.  Remember, always be safe and use the recommended cut settings for your machine if you’re not familiar with how to safely and correctly adjust them.

Once you select your bit and cut settings, you want to clamp down your board and zero your axes to get ready to carve.

Carve Your Sign

And now the fun part!  Once your design is loaded and settings in place, you’re ready to carve!  Each carve took about 20 minutes.  

I used tabs on the back of each piece so that they didn’t pop off the plywood during the carve.

After the carve, I used my little Dremel with a wheel cutter to quickly cut through the tabs holding each piece in place.  

Because we’re carving plywood, the letters needed a quick sand to remove any rough edges after carving.  Because of all the nooks in the letters, I just hand-sanded them with a piece of 120 grit sandpaper.  

Paint the Letters and Shapes

Since the sign backer was a rich, deep brown stain, I wanted the letters to pop off the board and knew I needed the paint the tops bright colors. 

I actually stained the sides with Minwax provincial first so they’d blend into the board.  (Plus the thought of hand-painting all the sides of the letters seemed like a lot of work!)

I used acrylic paint to paint the tops of the letters white.  

Then I painted each seasonal shape with three colors, a mid-tone, highlight color, and shadow color.  I tried to give each shape a little dimension.  You could keep this simple, though, and paint each shape a single color and they’d look good, too!

I gave each letter and shape a few coats of poly to protect them from the weather since the sign would be sitting outside under our front porch.

how to make a front porch welcome sign

Finish Your Sign

Lastly, I used Loctite super glue to glue the letters to the wood board.  I spaced the letters out visually first, eyeballing the spacing to get a general feel for their position.

Then, I went in with my ruler and adjusted the spacing so that the gaps between the letters were consistent.  On my board, the gaps between each letter were 3.5 inches.

To fix the shapes onto the board, you’ll want to use command strips or even velcro.  Something that will let you change the shapes each season! 

We have command strips coming in the mail, but for now, we’re using good old duct tape to keep the pumpkin in place.  It’s working, for now, until we get something a little more secure!

So tell me in the comments below, what do you think?  Would you ever make a wooden front porch welcome sign?  What questions do you have more for me?

I hope this tutorial was informative and I look forward to seeing all your gorgeous projects.  Be sure to tag me on Instagram so that I can see them!

As always, lots of love from my house to yours, 
Cynthia

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