Give Dad a Personalized BBQ Sign
Instead of giving dad the same old gift for Father’s Day (tie and matching socks set again?), this year you can really brighten up his day with a handmade, personalized wood sign. Sealed for outdoor use, he is sure to keep this one near his BBQing area – while he’s making some burgers you can’t refuse! 😉
- Wood board (I used a 12 x 6 pine board)
- Fine grit sandpaper (if necessary)
- Staining sponge or rag, and a foam brush (or paintbrush)
- Protective gloves and table cover
- Water-based wood stain (I use SamaN in dark walnut)
- Water-based wood finish (I used Varathane Diamond Wood Finish Exterior – glossy)
- Permanent Vinyl (I used Oracal 651 in matte white)
- Digital products: SVG: The Grillfather; Font: Koala Com Light (Design Space)
- Heat gun (optional, but recommended)
- Transfer Tape
- Weeding tools and scraper
- Cricut cutting machine (or other)
Let’s Get Started!
Preparing the Wood
To begin, first, gather all of the supplies that you will need – and decide on your stain color. I chose to use SamaN water-based stain in dark walnut – but feel free to change up the colors to make it more suited to your father’s (or loved one’s) tastes.
To prepare your wood, cut the panel, if necessary, and then give it a good sanding to remove any rough areas. Be sure to sand the sides and edges as well – your goal is to have a very smooth, clean surface.
When you’re finished, remove any excess dust with a slightly dampened cloth, and then allow the wood to dry for approximately 15-20 minutes.
Staining the Wood
After your wood has dried, it’s time to add some color to your blank! When choosing a stain, it’s important to only use water-based products because anything that is oil-based will most likely cause your vinyl to eventually peel or lift-off.
Pour a fair-sized amount of the stain onto your sponge and rub it onto all sides of your wood, wiping away any excess.
- 👉 Time-Saving Tip: To speed up the stain and seal application time, using painter’s pyramids are a must-have! I swear by this product because it allows you to stain your entire project at once, without having to wait for each side to dry before applying stain to the other sides.
Allow the wood to dry for 1-2 hours. Depending on your stain and/or color, you may have to apply a second coat. If so, allow the second coat to dry for at least 5-6 hours before proceeding to the next step.
Protecting the Wood
The next step will be adding one coat of Varathane Diamond Wood Finish Exterior. This “base” coat of seal not only helps in offering added protection for your wood but also acts as an adhesive layer that makes it easier for the vinyl to stick to. This step is optional, but I strongly recommend it to ensure that your sign will last for many years to come!
Using a foam brush (or paintbrush), dip it into the can of wood finish, wiping off any excess. Lightly coat all sides of the wood board, ensuring that there are no drops falling down on the edges.
Once coated, allow the sealant to dry for at least 24 hours before applying your vinyl.
Cricut Design Space
In the meantime, you can begin working on the vinyl design.
Download and install The Grillfather SVG from Creative Fabrica. This design is a flawless SVG that cuts perfectly on the Cricut, both the Maker and the Explore Air 2. Plus, I love the “Godfather” movie inspiration behind it. Once you have it downloaded and unzipped, open up Design Space and start a new project.
First, let’s create your template so that you can size the final design appropriately. Insert a square shape from the Shapes Library, unlock it, and enter the dimensions of the wood blank you are using. I am using a 12 x 6 board so I made my shape this size.
Now you can upload The Grillfather SVG; it will be quite large when you insert it onto your canvas so just make it small enough to work with, then ungroup it.
Create a text box and type out your father’s (or loved one’s) name and change the font to “Koala Com Light”, or another font of your choosing. If you need to, play around with the letter-spacing – but I found the spacing fine at 1.2.
For visual purposes, change the font to white and resize it so that it fits on the BBQ, then center it horizontally. Now select only the BBQ from the layers panel, as well as the name, and then slice. Delete all of the slices except for the BBQ of course!
Now you can add in another text box, and using the same font and letter spacing, type out “Making a Burger You Can’t Refuse”. Size it down so that the width is the exact same as the “grillfather”. You can easily check this by selecting it in the layers panel. Move the text so that it sits at roughly the same distance as the line spacing of the SVG, and then center it horizontally.
Select your texts and all of the components of the SVG, and group them. Now you can resize it to fit nicely on your template, and once you are happy with how it looks, delete the shape.
At this point, you are ready to cut. Select everything and attach – then click the Make It button. Cutting and weeding this design is as basic as they come. Just choose Premium Outdoor Vinyl as your material type, line up the vinyl on your mat, and then cut!
Weed as per usual, then apply your transfer tape and set aside until the coat of sealant on your wood is dry.
Applying the Vinyl
When your wood is dry, you are ready to apply the decal! Line up the decal so that it’s centered on your wood. Using a ruler to find the center, you can lightly apply masking tape to make gridlines to help you with alignment.
Before you start burnishing, very carefully remove the masking tape (if you used it) and discard. It’s very likely that your vinyl will be stubborn to release from the transfer tape; wood can be one of the trickiest surfaces to get your vinyl to stick because of how textured it is. Just proceed slowly and burnish small sections at a time as you lift the transfer tape. The sealant that you applied previously will help to make this process go much more easily versus without it.
After it has been applied, lightly burnish once again to ensure that there are no air bubbles, but be careful not to scratch up the vinyl! 😳
Using a heat gun to create a “faux paint effect” is completely optional, but I highly recommend it. This will not only give the sign a lovely finish but will also help to ensure that the vinyl has adhered well for the final step. If you don’t have a heat gun, no worries! Just allow the vinyl to “cure” for at least 12 – 24 hours before adding the final coat of finish, pressing down on it every couple of hours or so. I have heard that a hairdryer can work as well, but truthfully, I have never tried it so I cannot recommend it.
To use the heat gun, all you have to do is warm up the vinyl slightly, pressing it down with your fingers as you move along. Be extremely careful though! It can get very hot so you might want to use some oven mitts or heat-safe gloves so that you don’t burn yourself.
Almost there! 😅
After allowing the vinyl to cool for about 10 minutes, apply one final coat of the water-based exterior wood finish to further protect the wood, and seal the vinyl to protect it against any possible weathering.
After 24-36 hours, you can add an optional hanger to the back of your sign. I normally opt for a sawtooth hanger, but I think a chain hanger would also look lovely! Whichever picture hanger you decide on, just make sure to place at roughly 1” -1.5” down from the edge, depending on the size and shape of your sign.
Voila! Your Father’s Day gift is complete! Wrap it up and relish the smiles when he opens it up on his special day! 🎁
Keep on Crafting! 💖