Make a Wooden Campsite Welcome Sign with Cricut
With winter in full force, and a pandemic keeping us indoors, what better project to get started on than a welcome sign for your campsite? This one is sure to get you “campfired” up for a marshmallow toast!
- Wood board (I used a 12 x 6 pine board)
- Fine grit sandpaper (if necessary)
- Wood staining sponge or rag and a foam brush
- Protective gloves and table cover
- Water-based wood stain (I use SamaN in golden wheat)
- Water-based wood finish (I used Varathane Diamond Wood Finish Exterior – glossy)
- Permanent Vinyl (I used Oracal 651)
- Digital products: Campfire font (or other), camping themed images/SVG’s
- Heat gun (optional)
- Transfer Tape
- Weeding tools and scraper
- Cricut Explore Air 2
How to Make a Campsite Welcome Sign
Prepare the Wood
If necessary, you’ll start preparing your wood board by lightly sanding to remove any rough areas. Your goal here is to ensure that all sides of the wood are smooth to the touch. Remove any excess dust with a slightly damp (not wet) rag or paper towel.
Allow to dry for 15-20 minutes.
Staining the Wood
Once the wood is sanded and dried, we can begin applying the stain.
You can use any stain and color that you prefer, but it must be a water-based product. With oil-based stains and finishes, you’ll run the risk of the vinyl eventually lifting or peeling off.
With your sponge or rag, rub a small amount of stain on all sides of the wood, taking care that you apply an even coat.
Allow to dry for 1-2 hours.
- Time-Saving Tip: To greatly speed up the application time, painter’s pyramids are very handy! They allow you to stain your entire project at once, without having to wait for each side to dry before applying stain to the other sides.
Cricut Design Space
While you are waiting for the stain to completely dry, you can begin working on the design for your sign.
Open up a new project in Cricut Design Space, then insert a shape from the Shapes Library. Choose the shape that best reflects the wood board you are using. I am using a 12 x 6 pine wood board so I chose the square shape. Unlock it and adjust it to the size of the wood you are using. This will act as your template to create your design.
Now the fun part! Let’s add in some designs.
Open the images library and search for “tree”. Grab the image that you like best (I chose the green tree that resembles a pine tree), and insert the image. Next, duplicate it, select one of the trees and reduce its size to roughly half the size of the first one.
Duplicate the smaller tree and then place both of the smaller ones on either side of the large tree.
Select all three trees then align > distribute vertically and again, distribute horizontally. With all three trees selected, group them.
You just made your first group of forest trees!
For now, move the group of trees to the side. It’s time to work on your welcome text.
Insert a text box and type your welcome message. Under font, choose the font you prefer, but I used the Campfire font from Creative Fabrica and then I changed the letter spacing to be 0.8. After choosing your font, reduce the size (or zoom out) so that you can see your whole canvas.
Now you’ll add back your trees. Select your group of trees and place them at the beginning of your text box; reducing the size so that it’s approximately double the size of your text. Once you have the size and placement the way you like it, duplicate it and bring the copy to the end of the text, placing it at around the same distance from the text box as the first one. Select both groups of trees as well as the text, then align > distribute vertically/horizontally. Group the trees and text together and size accordingly to your wood board template. Once you have it the correct size, select both your group and template then align > center horizontally.
You just made your welcome message!
At this point, you can add your family name. I used the Campfire font again to create “The” and “Family” and for my family name I used the Alabama Script font and created the SVG in Inkscape; but if you are not familiar with Inkscape, you can still create it in Design Space and just play around with the letter spacing and the Ungroup to letters option.
- Important Tip: Whenever you use the “Ungroup to Letters” option for script fonts in Design Space, always remember to select each letter after you have the text the way you like it and choose Weld. Otherwise, your letters will still cut separately!
Now you can include fun some extras. You can add in your hometown, country, or any other message you would like at the bottom. Have some fun and be creative!
I chose to use my hometown (blurred out of the images for safety) and added in some small icons of my provincial and country symbols – the Fleur-de-Lys for Quebec and the Maple Leaf for Canada. Once you have that created and grouped, go ahead and select all of your groups together and align by distribution.
Now we need to make sure it is centered on our template. Select all of your groups and group them all together so that it is one large group. Next, select the template as well as your big group and align > center.
From here, you can add in some camping graphics or just leave it as is; I found a little campfire and a tent just for some added embellishments.
Every image that I use from Design Space in my tutorials are all free to use.
Now that we have our design, and everything is aligned and grouped, go ahead and delete the template, attach, and cut! Remember to apply your layering techniques for cutting if you are using color like I am!
Once cut, weed, apply transfer tape, and set aside.
Protecting the Wood
Now we go back to your wood board for step 1 of finishing. After 1-2 hours, the stain is dry so we can add our first coat of water-based exterior wood finish.
This step is important because it helps the vinyl stick well to the wood, and acts as a protective barrier against the weather as this sign will be displayed outdoors.
Take your foam brush and dip it into the can of wood finish, making sure to wipe off any excess so that it is not dripping.
Lightly coat all sides of the wood board. If you wish to add a second coat (though this is not necessary), wait 2-3 hours before applying.
Once fully coated, we will have to wait 24 hours before applying our vinyl.
Applying the Vinyl
After 24 hours we are finally ready to add our vinyl! Applying vinyl on wood can be tricky as it is a textured surface; so we must transfer it slowly and burnish with our scraper very often as we lift the transfer tape.
The exterior wood finish that we applied yesterday helps this process go much more smoothly versus without it, but you will still need to go slowly and carefully.
Now you can take the vinyl design that you set aside earlier and remove the transfer tape from the backing. Carefully center the transfer tape/vinyl on the wood board. Once you are happy with the placement, you can begin burnishing with the scraper. When you are ready to lift the transfer tape off, do so little by little and continue burnishing as you go. If you notice the vinyl lifting, lay the transfer tape back down over that section, and burnish again.
After it has been applied and the transfer tape is off, start burnishing again with a light hand so as not to damage the vinyl; but strong enough to ensure that there are no air bubbles and it adheres well.
- Esthetic Tip: For a professional look, after you apply your vinyl to the board, grab your heat gun and warm up the vinyl slightly, pressing it down as you move along. This gives the vinyl a painted on effect. Take a look at the image: I warmed up the tent design and pressed one side while leaving the other side unpressed. See how nice the “painted on” effect looks?
Be careful though! That heat gun is hot and you definitely don’t want to burn yourself! I recommend using an oven mitt for this.
After all of your vinyl has been placed you can set it aside for another 24 hours (I know…more waiting!) to allow the vinyl to adhere to the board before continuing to the final step.
Once the 24 hours are done, apply one more coat of the water-based exterior wood finish to further protect the vinyl and wood. This extra coat will make your welcome sign last for years…now that’s a lot of camping!
Keep on Crafting!