In the Netherlands it’s common for people to have a boring sticker on their door informing door-to-door salespeople and the like not to bother them. But stickers are boring… so I made a wood sign instead!
And in a attempt to try something completely new… if you don’t want to read the blog, I have some great news. I’ve been trying to expand my reach, and as part of that, this is my first article that’s available as a YouTube video as well. Prefer to let me do the reading for you while you sit back and enjoy your lunch? We can do that now! If this video does well, I’ll consider doing more videos in the future. Prefer to read the articles instead? Fret not, you can still do so below!
Okay, so my sister is pretty sick. She contacted Lyme disease a bunch of years ago, and it seriously ravaged her health. She has what is basically the equivalent of a chronic fatigue syndrome. She has exceptionally little energy – she can barely even make it through her day sitting at home.
In a situation like hers, it doesn’t help her health when hordes of door-to-door salespeople are constantly ringing her door or knocking on her windows. Just opening the door and telling people she’s not interested takes a lot out of her.
In the Netherlands it’s actually very common for people to have stickers on their front door to inform people what they are and aren’t interested in. They sell these cheaply and many municipal governments give them away for free. Here’s an example I found online:
Variations of these stickers include no salespeople, but willing to make donations. Or stickers to ward off religious out to tell you you’re going to some hell or another if you don’t immediately convert to the religion they’re trying to shove down your throat. And yes, there are stickers that basically say “no no no, don’t bother me, go away” which is what my sister had…
I say “had” because the sticker had gotten so worn over time that it had become completely unreadable. People tend to respect the stickers, but given the variety of stickers that exist, if it isn’t readable, then they’re going to assume it is of the variety that gives them a pass – however unlikely that is. So my sister asked me to order a new sticker for her, and I said NO.
Well, that’s not true. I said YES. But then later that day I thought to myself NO. Because I realized that, yes, I could order this sticker and apply it for her and that would be fine. I wanted to do something nicer. Something cooler. Something altogether classier. I wanted to make a small doorpost-mounted sign out of wood instead.
Sometimes I make you either suffer through my writing first (or scroll to the end to cheat), but I’ll save you the trouble and show you what I made first. We can get into how I made it after that:
Pretty sweet, eh?
So how did I make it? Well, ignoring the three failed attempts prior to it (eagle-eyed observers will spot me mixing and matching some photos that I forgot to retake), it all started with a piece of three millimeter plywood that’s been pre-treated for outdoor use:
Since I knew (I pre-measured) that I had about a 9 cm maximum width to work with, I drew out an 8 cm square (ish shape) and cut that out. Since I still haven’t bought a new scrollsaw, I had to do that by hand. 🙁
When I had my square of wood, I made sure to check both sides to pick the best surface. I’ve had bad experience with locally produced plywood, and this sheet is no exception. One side was very rough. Even just applying a piece of masking tape and taking it back off pulled large splinters with it.
Luckily the other side was pretty good. Since I already knew how the final sign would be mounted on the door with its back side invisible, I put down a large cross as a reminder to myself which side was which.
I then started sanding. I first used some 80-grit to round over the corners, and then I used 120, 180, and 400 grit to further smooth down the good surface to make it even smoother.
PSA: Remember to wear protection when doing sanding, especially when you’re sanding something that’s been pre-treated with god-knows-what kinds of chemicals and glues. You don’t want to breathe this stuff in:
A dust mask is the bare minimum you should use. I did!
And the resulting surface was pretty smooth:
But sanding only takes off the high spots on the surface, it doesn’t do anything about the low spots. So for my next trick I applied three layers of a clear acrylic lacquer to help fill up those low spots. Of course, that also ends up on the high spots so after that, I sanded it back down again. It’s a bit of a pain, but it’s also useful. The light-colored dust from sanding tends to collect in those low spots, so you can easily see how smooth the surface is (or in the case of this photo, isn’t):
I repeated this process three more times, applying lacquer and sanding it back down, before I applied a final (for now) layer of lacquer and was left with this beautiful piece of wood:
I’m sorry, but that’s sexy.
Next up, I had to design a stencil so I would be able to paint on the actual text itself. I used my Silhouette Cameo 3 and the Silhouette Studio for this. Here’s the stencil I made:
And here’s what that looked like after cutting:
Yeah, that’s… probably not very visible. Depending on your screen, you may or may not be able to see the cutting lines – but they are there. I transferred the vinyl to transfer foil, removed the backing, and started weeding out the letters:
By the way, here’s a protip that I came up with on my own. Put down a piece of cheap masking tape. Use the cheap tan stuff, not any sensitive variants. You’ll be able to just tap your tweezers on the tape to get rid of any vinyl that’s on them, and be able to work much more efficiently than trying to remove all the pieces of vinyl off the tweezers by hand each time:
I then applied the vinyl to my beautiful piece of wood, and lo and behold, just being able to see the wood with the text on it already gives you a good impression of how it’ll look when it’s all done:
I then had to remove the transfer foil – very very carefully. I’ll be damned if it isn’t the case that the middles of “e”s and “a”s and “o”s always wants to lift back up off the project, much like happened here:
Luckily that’s nothing a bit of firm pressing-down with the back end of your tweezers doesn’t solve:
With the stencil fully removed, it was time to apply the masking tape everywhere I didn’t want paint to get. I used the sensitive masking tape here, which uses a less aggressive adhesive. This one’s easier to remove later:
Before I started painting, I applied ONE more good layer of clear acrylic lacquer first to help seal any remaining low spots. The lacquer will be able to clog up any hidey-holies that the paint might otherwise have gotten into, and because it’s clear, you won’t notice it.
I then started painting. I did this inside because of the near-freezing temperatures while I was working on this part of the project, and because of the limited range in which paints and such are optimally applicable (between 15 to 25 degrees Celsius). I really don’t recommend this inside, but here’s how I improvised.
First, I prepared my spray booth:
… I know it looks like a cardboard box, but would you believe me it isn’t and that it is, in fact, a proper spray booth? Because if you’re that gullible, please get in touch. I’ve got some magic beans to sell you…
By the way, don’t “just” use any box if you ever do this. I made sure to tape all the corners and the sides and back. You want to contain the paint as much as possible. If you can get a fan attached on the back to suck fumes and particles and send’em outside, even better. But I had to make do with this.
Even with all of my usual precautions (stay in the taped-up box, wear protection, use low pressures, avoid getting a breeze) it still caused a heck of a mess. Sort of. There were millions of paint particles. They were so spread out that they were pretty much impossible to see with the naked eye. But when I wiped my desk with a kitchen towel, it looked like this:
Yikes! And apropos of nothing, but if something makes an invisible mess that you can’t see, is it still a mess?
(Yes. Yes it is.)
With my “spray booth” in place, I started putting down many thin layers of white paint. As always, using many thin layers is the best approach. Each layer will dry quickly, and you avoid the risk of any of it pooling, or getting underneath your stencil, and so on. I KNOW THIS IS HARD, OKAY? I find myself impatiently wanting to just put down 2 or 3 thick layers of paint all the time. The irony is of course that it actually takes longer, because the thick layer of paint takes longer to dry… and the results will be much less consistent. This is definitely a case where “slow and steady” wins the race:
With the white down, I moved on to the red:
Then I let it dry a little bit before removing all of my masking.
I removed the stencil as well, and let everything dry. Before I did anything else, I drilled four tiny holes in the corners of the sign, so that the nails can easily go in to mount this to the door frame later:
Then I spent the rest of the day liberally applying about six good layers of clear acrylic lacquer on the front of the sign (plus some more on the sides and the back). By pre-drilling the holes before applying these finish coats, it gives the lacquer a change to get down in there, which helps protect it from the elements. I’m not sure it’ll make much of a difference, but it’s free to do… and every little bit helps!
And… you’ve already seen what the finished result looks like! But here’s one more photo that I took before mounting it:
… and that’s it! I hope you liked reading about how I made this sign, and I hope you like the sign itself. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, obviously. And my sister loves it… and they finally leave her alone again now, which is the most important bit.
Did you watch the video? Please do! It’s my first-ever real YouTube-length video and I worked hard to make it, so I’d appreciate your words of encouragement and/or any constructive feedback.
If you want to help me make more cool content like this article or the matching video, please consider supporting NinjyProps for as little as €2 a month – that’s less than 7 cents a day! Or send me any art books you’re not using. You can find all those details and more on the support page.
Thanks for your support, and see you next time!