Creating a vintage sign

Recommended Posts

I wanted to create a vintage looking sign for my pole barn. I collect old Jeeps so I found some google images of what I was thinking and customized it to my liking.  I have a CNC plasma cutting table as well as a vinyl cutter and thought some of you might like to see my process, maybe it'll spark some idea for someone.

Now, I'm no artist by any means, but since I have a vinyl cutter, I thought I could create a stencil, then use spray paint for the color, and finally distress it to my liking.

I think I'm going to make my sign about 30" high and about 25" wide and will probably make it out of 16 gauge steel, but before I cut out the shape of the sign, I wanted to make sure that my plan would work. I've had issues with using vinyl as stencils before and I've never distressed a sign either so I wanted to do a test run on a much smaller scale.
I found a piece of scrap steel I had. This one is 1/8" thick and about 11" square.

I cleaned it up with a wire wheel grinder then sprayed a coat of primer first, then flat white on top of that.

I wasn't exactly sure of what I wanted the dealer info to say, so I drew up a few different designs in VM.

I picked one, then I cut out the vinyl on my SC2 and weeded it. I used orange vinyl because "orange man bad" right?

Next, I applied the transfer paper. This is only to help apply it and gets thrown away like all my hopes and dreams.

I peeled off the transfer paper and used Rustoleum 2X satin spray paint for the red, blue and black. In this picture, the paints are all dry but you can see all those black specs in the white are where the vinyl peeled up some of the white exposing the steel below. I waited almost 24 hours to apply the vinyl over the white, but it's possible I didn't wait long enough. I also didn't wait long enough to start peeling off the vinyl on the blue paint at the bottom. According to my wife, I have a problem with finishing things too soon...

Finally I used a green scotchbrite pad to remove some of the gloss and distress the paint.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it turned out awesome and feel good about making another in full size. I'm even liking the peeled up dots all over the place, so I found a sheet of 16 gauge about that size.

Then I tossed the sheet on my plasma table and cut out the shape

I cleaned up both sides. It ended up being about 32" wide X 28" tall.

Then did the same process that i did on the smaller one. Here's a pic of it after all the painting is done and the vinyl peeled off. I guess waiting a little dry more time helped since the white didn't come up this time. It looked so good, I had a hard time deciding if I should distress it or not.

And here it is after all the distressing is done. I'm debating about putting a couple bullet holes in it, and possibly adding some rusted edges... not sure yet. When I decide where it's going, I'll figure out mounting holes.

And some detail pics, I love the way it turned out, especially the black letters!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


While I have never used the STENCIL vinyl offered by USCUTTER, I suspect it is thinner material than regular Intermediate calendared, so paint won't 'leak' under the edges of letters.

Personally, I preferred the crisp new look, rather than the scuffed version. FWIW.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, I've never used that stuff either.  I wonder how good it works on wood... This is Oracal 651 and it left a super crisp line on the metal.  No bleeding at all.

I did have second (and third...) thoughts about scuffing this sign once I finished peeling off all the vinyl.  It looked super good, but I was going for an aged look so I did it.  

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Super awesome, and I'm totally envious of your toys.

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now