We found this old board at a recycle shop, cleaned it up and painted a happy message on it to greet guests. If you can't find a piece of salvaged wood the right size, buy a new one, paint it, then distress it by sanding and banging it up with hand tools.
utility knife and scissors
paintbrush and red paint - sample size (we used Lowe's Valspar Claret)
salvaged wood board (about 70" to 75" x 20" to 24")
shellac (all natural sealer)
2 D-rings with screws and picture hanging wire
3 large paper bags
Wear a mask. Clean the board with a shop vac to get any paint flakes off. Wipe down with a damp rag.
Measure the board and plan out your design on paper.
Create a template for the letters on three paper bags. For a 70" x 24" salvaged board, letters should be at least 16" square.
Remove templates and use razor knife to cut along the marker lines. Go over it a few times to make the lines wider and deeper. Go over them again with a hand saw to create a rough line look. Vacuum to remove all dust and wood chips.
Paint inside the lines, but leave some of the finish/paint underneath exposed. Let dry. If necessary, put on a second coat and let dry. Use sandpaper to scrape away the paint in some spots to give it an aged look.
Shellac wood, front and back two times.
Add D-rings to the back of the wood. Hang with wire.
Joanne Palmisano is the author of Salvage Secrets (W.W. Norton, September 2011). Visit her blog, also called Salvage Secrets.