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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Friday, 25 July 2014
Our first craft project for our new home is a garden sign 
pointing the way to various literary and fantasy destinations.

This is one of those Pinterest projects I have been itching to do!
(You can follow me on Pinterest HERE)
I thought I would share how I did it, in case you have a hankering to make your own.

The first step was to acquire a pallet (aka free wood).
I have been a little leery about the pallet-mania going on,
as the life of a pallet can include being sprayed with pesticides and other nasties.
But since this one was destined for the outdoors, I headed to our local dump.

Once I bypassed one of the local dump bears...
 (I never said this tutorial was going to be safe and easy, did I?!)
... and received permission from the Dump Master (Head Dump Dude? I don't know his actual title),
I snagged a likely looking pallet and squeezed it into my (too small) car.

Next, I gathered my tools and materials for the project:
* Pallet
* Table Saw & extension cord
* Sander and/ or sand paper
* Hammer, Crowbar
* Pencils
* Nails in desired size
* Print outs of locations in desired size and font
* Craft paints, palette, brushes
* Outdoor Sealant (I used a water based clear coat)
* lumber for signpost

At this point, I need to confess something.
You know those men whose workshops have every tool known to humankind are organized, with everything in its place?
I didn't marry one of those.
Oh, we have every tool.
But finding it is a bit of a trick.

So I found the table saw (but not the table) and a hammer and approached my pallet.
I may or may not have used a glass topped patio table for my saw table.
(This tutorial might fall under do as I say, not as I do...) 
And my husband may have seen this picture of me on Facebook (modifying a temporary goat shed and using the table saw very incorrectly...) and called to tell me how to adjust the blade as I started this project.



For the sake of saving labour, I decided to simply chop off the outer sides of the pallet
(less nails to pry out).
If you prefer a more nuanced approach, there are lots of YouTube videos detailing how to take apart a wooden pallet. The ones by men include spending several hours machining the perfect tool for the job... seriously? Gimme a hammer.
Once I chopped off the outer ends from the pallet, all I had to do was take it apart.
The easiest way was to simply use the hammer and bang the face boards off of the middle crossbeam a little..  bang them away from where they attach, creating a little extra space around the nail head, which could then be pulled easily with the claw of the hammer. Does that make sense?
(If not, see YouTube for better, smarter, safer ways to do it!).

At this point I had over a dozen boards approx. 24" in length.
You can save your nails from the pallet to put together your signs later.
The next step was to use the table saw and cut the ends of each board into rough arrow shapes.
The more random the better!
(When you sand and/or paint, you will flip some to go in the opposite direction).
You could skip this next step, but in my experience painting will go much more smoothly, literally, if your wooden surface is smooth, allowing the paint to adhere better and last much longer.
Using a small hand sander and some 80 grit paper to really quickly slough off any unevenness, I sanded one side of each board (remembering to flip some so they can point in the opposite direction).
Of course, you can do this by hand, too.
 And now you are ready to start creating your signs!
The first thing you need to do is check out this tutorial HERE which will help you distress your wood (if you so choose.. I didn't for this project) AND most importantly hook you up with a great lettering tutorial so you can transfer the perfect fonts for each literary place right onto the wood!
You can also use carbon paper for the lettering~ but I am impatient and we live in the woods and a long way from any place with carbon paper!
Make a list of all the magical places you want to put on your signpost.
You can use a free font website (like dafont.com) to help you find the perfect lettering.
HINT: On Dafont you can choose a font to look at, and then enter your place name as the 'sample text' and until you change it, all fonts you view will show you your chosen words in that font.
Fonts are often named thematically, so try entering in something like "Hobbit" for a couple of great options for 'The Shire". Most free fonts are only free for personal use, so please respect the designers and do not sell items using their work without making a donation or purchase.
Download and install your desired font.
Print out the words at the desired size (this may take a few test prints to get it right for your boards).
Use the lettering tutorial linked above to get your words onto your boards for painting.

(or use your carbon, or go freehand.. I just happen to be a bit of a nut for just the right font!)

Paint your letters, and add details as you feel inspired!
This part of the project will take the longest ~ we had trouble choosing just a few places and I bet you will, too!
Once your signs are all painted and dried, use your chosen sealer to weatherproof them.
I used a water based acrylic clear coat and applied 3 coats.
With a lot of debating, we determined the order for our signs.
For a signpost, I purchased a piece of unfinished pine trim from the dowel section at the hardware store, scrap wood would work fine, too!

Next, I called it 'nail driving practice' and let my eager almost-9 year old do most of the hammering.
She's all ready to compete at the fall fair now!
And she learned a valuable life lesson when I refused to hold the nail for her while she hammered it in!
If your nails are too long, simply hammer the backs down against the board.
Two nails were required every couple of boards in order to keep them all from turning and spinning on a single nail.
Being a bit of a tree hugger, I was a little hesitant to nail the finished sign post to a tree.
But I did some reading and was assured that 2-3 nails in a healthy mature tree would not cause undue stress or damage to the tree. So we proceeded to choose a tree and mount our signpost with a couple of 3" nails.
Now.. stand back and enjoy what you have created!
 

I love that cars going by slow down to read the signs (wait until I finish my 'Unicorn Crossing' sign!)
and that almost every time we pull into our driveway Rowan asks "where we should go"...
because sometimes you just need a quick trip to Narnia or Neverland to restore your spirit of wonder and belief in magic! ♥♥

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