How to Make an Industrial Initial Sign

Here's an inexpensive DIY initial sign with industrial style that's easy to make using old hardware and a little glue! Perfect for any male in your life!
industrial sign with old hardware

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Good morning and welcome to June's installment of Thrifty Style Team! We are a group of decor and DIY bloggers who love to share thrifty ideas with you. At the end of my DIY initial sign tutorial, you'll find links to the rest of the team members' projects.

A new use for old hardware

If you're like me, you have a bag of old hardware you've saved from past projects. I always hang onto these "just in case"! When a friend recently told me she was decorating her new baby's nursery in industrial style with grays, whites and metals, the creative juices started flowing, the wheels started turning and I came up with this initial sign idea.

This DIY sign would be ideal for any man (big or small) in your life! I think it would make a great Father's Day gift idea. Even though Father's Day is coming up soon, this project is quick and easy and totally doable!

How to make an industrial initial sign

I didn't have any appropriate wood laying around the garage, so I headed to Hobby Lobby for a ready-made sign to use as the base for this project. These are the three I had my eye on.

sign choices

I ended up buying the middle sign, even though the wood color wasn't quite right for my project, but that was an easy fix, which I'll share in a little bit! The size and shape of this sign was perfect, and it was 50% off! Here's the link to this exact sign if you are interested.

Hobby Lobby sign

Changing the wood color

I knew I could easily adjust the wood tone with paint. I'll include a detailed supplies list at the end of the tutorial, but here's what I did to change the base color of the sign to match the industrial style. You can click here to find out exactly how to paint brown stain with simple acrylic paint.

changing wood color with paint

I found that a stiff chip brush like the one below is great for adding texture and streaks when dry brushing. And by adding layers of  "stain" and paint, it instantly adds age, texture and interest to a project!

chip brush

I also love using a glaze or colorwash like this one by DecoArt, or make your own by watering down paint. It gives a washed effect, allowing the stain and wood grain to still show through.

color wash paint

Once I was happy with the color of the sign, and the paint had dried, I gave it a light coat of clear wax to seal it. This also makes it easy to dust!

Now for the fun part...adding hardware

I had already played with my hardware to find the best pieces for the initial I was using, and so they'd fit on the sign I purchased. Now it was just a matter of making them permanent.

hardware variety

I used RapidFuse glue by DAP to secure the metal hardware to the sign. I love this glue because it holds so fast (usually less than 30 seconds!).

hardware initial

Look at that fun texture!

glue hardware to sign to create initial

Personalize it!

Whenever I make a handmade gift, I love to personalize it for the recipient. Everyone likes to see their name on something! Last month I made a mini sign for a baby girl's nursery that was feminine and flowery, so it was fun to work on a masculine piece. 

I used my Silhouette machine to cut out the new baby boy's name and stenciled it onto the sign with black paint. I used a piece of scrap vinyl (it was just being used as a stencil for this project and then thrown out). To add a bit of fun to the letters, I removed the centers to make them chunkier. I pounced on black paint with a stencil brush and then carefully peeled off the stencil.

If you don't own a diecut machine, don't worry because you can still achieve this exact same look using card stock, a printer and an X-acto knife! This was the method I used to make DIY signs before I invested in a Silhouette. You can click here to see a couple of methods for making DIY signs when you don't own a Silhouette.

personalized stencil

I really love how this initial sign turned out, and the best part is that my friend loved it! ❤

industrial initial sign

Supplies list for an industrial initial sign


Pin for easy reference!

industrial initial sign with old hardware

Let's see what my fellow Thrifty Style Team members are sharing this month!

Thrifty Style Team June Projects

DIY Beautify - You are here 😉

Thrifty Style Team Blogger summer projects roundup

bringing beauty to the ordinary, 


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  1. this is so cute and so easy! i have a HUGE stash of ROT (rusty old things) that would be perfect. i personally think this is the kind of gift that means so much and will be 'used' for years! great job!

    1. Thank you Gwen, that is so sweet!! Love your acronym (ROT), that is awesome!! 😄

  2. What a great gift idea for someone of any age and a great way to use bits and pieces that have been saved. I know you friend loved this gift!

    1. Thanks so much Paula, I love being able to use up what I have and make something 'new' and unique 😊

  3. This is such a great and thoughtful Father's Day gift idea! You are so creative!

    1. Thanks Kelly,I was excited to use up some of my hardware, LOL!

  4. I love this creative idea! Especially as a fun gift. You come up with the best ideas, Cindy. Completely inspired over here...

  5. What a beautiful idea and it makes the perfect personalized gift! And a great way to use up extra hardware to boot. Awesome project Cindy!

  6. This is such a cute and clever way to use odd pieces of hardware! I haven't tried that glue but will definitely use it the next time I need something quick drying. Thanks for the great idea!


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