“Vintage” Sign Tutorial

Do you love the look of old metal signs?

I do.

Do you love the price of old metal signs?

I do not.

Plus, what are the odds that it’ll be just the right size and color?  Not good, friends…not good.


So, when I had the idea to put one on Macy’s pallet headboard, I knew I’d have to DIY it.

My first stop was the ducting section at Lowe’s.

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They sell metal sheets elsewhere in the store (near the plexi glass), but they’re about 2-3 times as much.  Is it “nicer” metal?  Probably, but we don’t need nice for this project. Open-mouthed smile

The sheet measured 24” X 36”, but I wanted a slightly different size.  I cut about 2.5” off one of the long sides so my piece was 21.5” X 36”. You can score with a razor blade/utility knife and then snap the metal along the line, but it takes some SERIOUS patience and massive amounts of scoring.  I went the quick route and used tin snips (WEAR GLOVES) and then used a file to smooth the edge (WEAR GLOVES).

I liked the look of a metal border, so I taped off the edges and then I applied some yellow paint.  I used Jonquil from the new Martha Stewart Crafts by Plaid line.  That paint works on pretty much any surface, including metal.  You don’t need a great coat, because you’re going to sand it and beat it up.  Make sure it’s mostly covered, though.  Peel off the tape and sand.  I used an electric sander with 220 grit.  If you’re doing it by hand, you could use rougher paper (lower grit #).  Here’s a shot after I had sanded:


I put the tape back on and applied some vinyl, cut with my Silhouette CAMEO™, in the center in the shape of a vintage Chevrolet logo.

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I traced the center part manually in the Silhouette Studio® Designer Edition software and then used the font “Hood Ornament” to add the lettering.  It’s not quite the same font that Chevy actually used, but only true car dorks would know that.

Once the vinyl was applied, I put on a coat of Martha Stewart Crafts by Plaid paint in carrot.


After I peeled off the tape and vinyl:


And then I sanded some more.  Once I was happy with it, I mounted it to the headboard with a screw in each corner.


I will probably go back and put a clear coat on it, but it’s cold today and I’m a wuss.  Open-mouthed smile


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  1. Thanks for sharing this, great sign!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing

  3. Char – This is seriously AWESOME!!!! I totally love it. I never thought to use metal as a canvas, but this is brilliant. And it looks so stink in’ cool. Great project. I bet she loves it.

  4. That’s freakin’ awesome, Char!

  5. I love this idea. It would be fantastic in my son’s room as a magnet board. Can’t wait to give this a try.

  6. This is so awesome! I love the whole headboard, but the sign really makes it extra awesome!

  7. Great sign!!! You are giving me so much inspiration right now and boy have I been in a craft rut so Thank YOU!!! So excited to see the finished bedroom, its going to be great!!

  8. Love it!

  9. This is GREAT!!! My husband spends soooo much on metal signs–will go this route in the future!!

  10. I LOVE this!! Such a fun and unique sign for her room! Love how creative it is as well!

  11. That is so awesome! Come do my boys room, will ya?!

  12. Char, that is amazing! Seriously, you’re super creative.

  13. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!! Great job, girl!! XO

  14. Wow! That is awesome.

  15. Jennie Penny says:

    Yep, You’re still amazing! Good work, my friend!

  16. This is AWESOME! SO cool. and ENDLESS possibilities.

  17. Carrie Lynch says:

    Holy. Crap. I’m still amazed that I know you. :-)

  18. Carolyn Windley says:

    First of all love this!!!!! We are redecorating and loved some old tin signs but the prices at $15 to $30 each made them prohibative. We had decided to recreate them on thin wood. I really like your idea much better. : )
    I was wondering if you did anything to prep the edges to protect from cuts and scratches as that metal is a real mean booger. You mentioned a file but what kind did you use? Thanks for the input and for sharing this awesome sign and I think even a “car dork” would love this one.

  19. This is amazing Char! I absolutely love this! I am thinking my son might like one of these pallet headboards and he is going to love this vintage metal sign tutorial! Thanks for sharing!!!

  20. Totally amazing!! Love! Like the little light too.

  21. Michele N says:

    Love this idea! Gives me something to think about for my boys’ room. They have dark rough cedar on 2 walls and this might be a great way to hide some of it not already hidden by their bunk beds. If you know ahead of time Lowe’s can probably cut the metal for you too, I know they’ll cut wood and acrylic.

  22. This turned out awesome!! Cannot wait to see the bed all put together :)

  23. Love this. Pinned it. Stopped over from your feature at BeDifferentActNormal.


  24. Oh, this is utterly fabulous!!

  25. I love this! I need this! I am praying for this:)

  26. Love this! so cool, Char! totally remembering this for when my boys get bigger.
    happy crafting,

  27. Hands down, this is one of the best signs I’ve seen in a long time. You did an amazing job on it & layering it with the pallet headboard was genius! Sometimes it’s hard to find great projects or inspiration for teen boys so this was wonderful. I will be working on one this weekend for my 14 year old to go with the other tin signs & vintage finds in his room. Thanks for some great inspiration :)

  28. Wow I love your creativity
    Vintage Tin Signs are a thing I love and you are right finding the right one or right size can be difficult
    Will give it a try

  29. love this sign and how you used it, i would love to feature it if that would be ok with you please let me know

  30. This is by far the most amazing sign I have ever seen done with the vinyl work. I to have the Cameo and love old Chevy stuff. You have my mind racing!

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