Wow there’s always something to learn.  Every time I decide to do something I seem to want to take it just that much further and try new things.

I decided I would make a family monogram sign for a friend and co-worker who always seems to be there for anyone who needs a helping hand.  When I’m looking for free material or something specific he goes out of his way to get it for me.  The name was the easy part but I wanted something just a little bit more detailed.  He and his family originally came from Nova Scotia so I thought I would try to incorporate a sea theme.  What exactly I hadn’t decided yet.

I picked out my pallet boards, cleaned, sanded and scrubbed again.  I cut the lengths just a little over half way and laid them vertically.  Once I was satisfied with the lay out I flipped the boards over so I could measure my brace pieces and glue and screw them into place.  Some people might think that’s a lot of prep for a sign.  I have seen many done with a Brad nailer or a staple gun, which is perfectly fine, but if you want the sign to stand up over time then in my opinion the extra work is well worth it.

Turned out that I liked the back part of the pallet more than the front.  It seemed to have more character.  The nail heads that I had left in the boards would be on the opposite side though.  I decided I would deal with that later.  I flipped them over again and measured again where my brace pieces would go.

I milled a piece of scrap wood from my bin in half with the band saw.  Then clamped all the boards together top side and bottom side of the of the boards.  Time to measure where the braces should go and used the brace to draw the line across the boards.  I then put a thin line of Elmer’s wood glue down the middle and carefully placed the braces along the lines and clamped them on each end to the boards.  I drilled my pilot holes and secured the braces to each board with wood screws.  Taa-Daa!   Or so I thought.

I had brought the “finished boards” into the shop and leaned it upright while I brought my work bench in.  When I picked it up to put back on the bench it all fell apart.  “Seriously! that didn’t just happen!” I said in disbelief.  I stood there for a moment or two and stared at all the boards scattered on the floor.  I picked it all up laid it out again took all my screws out and put in longer screws.  I was so intent on clamping, bracing and measuring the boards the one thing I didn’t measure and only assumed was the length of my screws.  Lesson learned, “I hope”.  At that point I called it a night.

I like the look of having the initial large in the background with the family name over it.  I set to work by making a large “A” in MS Power Point and then saving it to a PDF to print out poster size.  I’ve done this several times already but this time I found that if I went over 900 on the font size when I opened my saved PDF file there was nothing there?  I was puzzled and tried several times to figure out what I was doing wrong.  I researched it on line but couldn’t seem to find the answer.  Frustrated I decided to go with what it would save and print to.

Before I started to work on my staining I took a nail set and removed the nails and put them back in with the nail heads on the right side of the sign.  I then cut out my letter and used Mod Podge to stick it to the board surface.  I picked out some stain from my many cans of stain and mixed it 1 to 1 ration.  1 part stain 1 part water.   I applied the stain to the boards not quite going to the edges,  I then wet my brush with water and wiped the stain to the edges giving it a faded look.  I let that sit for about 10 minutes, ( it was a very hot day), then I carefully peeled of my letter.  Once my stain was dry I took a damp cloth and rubbed any remaining paper off which wasn’t much.  So now I have a natural wood “A” in the center.  I set to work printing of the last name and traced it onto the sign.  For paint I used Patio Paint in a cream color.   Once that was done I used a parody for a cute saying which I painted in a nice bright blue,  also Patio Paint.  I then sealed it with two coats of Benjamin Moore Arbour Coat on the top side of the sign and I sprayed a matte clear coat on the back.

My initial monogram sign was done but as I said I wanted to add that little bit extra.  I had some bottle caps given to me and I first thought of using them to make an anchor or a lobster.  You’ve probably seen that how to on Pinterest.  I laid it out on the table but didn’t like the look of it.  Earlier that day I went garage sale shopping and had picked up some vintage tins and a few other ones.  I also had the cigar tins saved from hubby’s cigars.  I thought I could probably use the tins to make some sort of sea animal, light house or something nautical.  There were two tins that caught my eye and as soon as I saw them I knew exactly what I was going to put on the sign.  This is sort of long and drawn out but I just wanted to share my thought processes on how I came up with this one.

Cutting the tin is quite hard on the hands and wrist, (at least I found it to be).  My hubby has some aviation snips which is what I used to cut the tin with.  Aviation snips are color coded.  The red handled ones make a left handed curve and the green handled ones make a right handed curve.  I couldn’t get the hang of the green ones and only used the red ones.  I just kept turning the tin so I was always cutting towards the left side.  Always wear gloves.

Once I cut down the seams and the bottom of the tins I flattened out the pieces and traced my design onto the back with a sharpie.  Then set to work cutting the pieces.  I glued the pieces on with Gorilla glue and finished with some 1/2 inch finishing nails.  I used a very small ball-peen hammer to tap the edges of the tin down.  The edges would still be sharp but since it was an outdoor sign I wasn’t too worried about anyone wanting to touch it once it was hung.  For curl on the tail I used a few links of a brass chain  left over from the easel hubby made me.  The eyes are buttons I had in my sewing kit.

For the finishing touch I added a sailor’s knot with natural jute rope.  I didn’t have a clue how to tie one so here’s the Pinterest site I found it on.

I was pretty happy with the finished sign.  It measures approximately 23H x 36w.  A couple of things I might do differently as I said I learned a lot on this project.  So much fun!  Hope you enjoyed and if I forgot something leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Happy crafting!

Back of finished sign

Back of finished sign


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