Rustic Railroad Sign

Affiliate LinkRailroad Crossing sign

I live near a small town with a railroad running through it. At night and the early morning hours you can hear a faint train whistle off in the distance. We just love that sound, it is so soothing to listen to at night while falling asleep.

There is a restaurant and pub right across the street from the tracks. Every time I am in there I admire a huge super cool Railroad sign they have hanging on the wall. I am so smitten with it, I decided I needed to make one for myself. 

I made the letters using Contact Paper and my Silhouette Cameo. If you do not have a die cutting machine, you can always use stencils for the lettering.



Trim boards to make rail road signCut your wood to 35 inches in length with a saw.

cut the corners of boardsI used a hacksaw to cut the corners off unevenly to make it look old and damaged. Sand to round off the edges.

Stain boards before paintingTake a rag and rub on the wood finish to both sides of the boards. I used the wood finish first so it would fade through the chalk paint later to make the wood look weathered. Let it dry overnight. Mix your chalk paint and paint the wood with 2 coats.

DIY Chalk Paint Recipe

If you are doing a small job with chalk paint cut the recipe in half. When the paint is completely dry, start stenciling.




Using Regular Contact Paper with Silhouette for Stenciling:

Here are the settings:

  • Media~ Vinyl
  • Speed~ 3
  • Blade~ 2

Type your letters and then rotate them 90CW vertical. I used  the font Arial Black. If you are using the same wood I am, below are the dimensions for the letters.

Please use the below dimensions as a guide. You may be able to fit your letters a different way, especially if you use a different font.

To adjust letter size, I cut out about what I thought the letters should be on the contact paper with the Silhouette, removed the letters and placed them on the wood as a reference. Measure and center the letters. Adjust as needed. By using the contact paper instead of the expensive vinyl I was able to cut out multiple samples to get my lettering the right dimensions.

RAIL & ROAD Letters

  • Height of letter  8.620
  • Length of word  17.830
  • Text size 362.4
  • Spacing between letters 140%

CROS   &  SING    (I separated crossing into two words)

  • Height of letter  8.620
  • Length of word  17.830
  • Text size 362.4
  • Spacing between letters  160%

I manually made my setting for the vinyl size to 8×15. My contact paper was already a 15 inch roll so I cut 8 inch wide strips with a rotary cutter. Reset to the small width on the Silhouette. Feed your vinyl and cut.

After you are satisfied with your lettering. Pull the letters off of the vinyl and  place them where they will go on the wood this will give you a reference to where to place the vinyl. Place your vinyl and press down to seal.

STENCIL TIP: To get super crisp lines, I use a black paint pen to outline the letters, inside the vinyl cuts. That way if your paint is not working well you can always hand paint the letters.

I mixed black and brown acrylic paint and used a sponge applicator to dab on the paint. Remove the contact paper before it dries. I think the longer a stencil stays on, the longer it has to bleed. So remove as soon as you are finished painting. Touch up any mistakes.

contact paper silhoiuette cameo

stencil with slhouette paint pen

After paint is dry. I went over the letters lightly with a sander. I then drilled two holes in the center for the bolts to hold the sign together. Remove dust with rag and place the Neoprene washers on letters. I used 148 washers. Glue them on with hot glue. Bolt the two boards together with a screwdriver. Add your wall hanger to the back center.

add rustic bolts to DIY railroad sign

Add washers to letters on railroad sign

Take a small amount of the Special Walnut Wood finish on a rag and shabby up the edges and on top of the white paint for that damaged weathered rustic look. And that’s it! I realize this was a lot of information but it really was a very easy project!

The pics were taken in my dining room, my husband has now confiscated it for his man cave, I think it looks much better down there on the dark walls. I hope you like it as much as I do!

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48 thoughts on “Rustic Railroad Sign

  1. LOVE, LOVE this!! What a great idea to make this!!!
    Wondering if that small town train you speak of is Waxhaw? I love to visit downtown Waxhaw. Some people call where I live Waxhaw but it is actually Marvin, NC. Downtown Waxhaw is about 15 mins from our house.

  2. Love the RR sign – I have a nephew that would adore it!

    Do you recall where you got the wine bottle/glass holder? It is the perfect combination!

    1. Thanks so much I am glad you liked it! The glasses holder I bought at Costco around Christmas Time. I had been looking everywhere for one and was super excited to find it. I hope this helps.

  3. Kim, Thank you for lining up at the Cabin this week your railroad sign is just perfect. What a creative idea:) I think blogger is having issues I tried to follow your blog today with no success. I did add you to my reader, so I will be getting your post. Can’t wait to follow along and see what other clever ideas you have.

  4. A.Dor.A.Ble! I have a son who LOVES trains and we made him a train room. I made a similar RR crossing sign, but not nearly as nice as yours (because with a rowdy boy, I didn’t know if it would last… it has!) It makes me want to add some embellishments to the one I made!
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Jen @ Noting Grace

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