Rustic Railroad Sign

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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 in 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 the 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 a 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!

Rustic Railroad Sign 33

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Welcome to Made in a Day, I'm Kim, the home & lifestyle blogger, former wig stylist, and floral designer behind the blog. Living seaside in Southern California, my blog is where I share my love of DIY coastal decor, digital art prints, fun fashion DIYs, and great recipes. I also write about my experience as a former wig stylist who now wears a hair topper!

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  1. 3.21.13

    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.

    • 3.21.13

      Thanks so much! Yes it’s the Waxhaw Train! This is my version of the sign in Maxwell’s Tavern.

  2. 3.10.13
    Bliss said:

    Stopping in to pin! I love this sign.


  3. 1.22.13
    Sarah said:

    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!

    • 1.22.13

      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.

  4. 1.21.13

    This is adorable! Just wanted to stop by and let you know you’ve been featured! :)

  5. 1.20.13
    Heather said:

    I featured you today here: thanks so much for linking up last week! Hope to see more of your awesomeness at this week’s party :D Heather

  6. 1.19.13
    Heather said:

    Love your sign – so perfect with the washers you added to it!! Thanks so much for sharing your creativity at It’s Party Time!

  7. 1.19.13

    The washer’s are an awesome touch! being confiscated for the man cave would be the ultimate compliment here! Thanks so much for sharing on Busy Monday!

  8. 1.18.13
    Christine said:

    Absolutely AMAZING Kim!! WOW!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer… From Dream To Reality!

  9. 1.18.13

    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.

  10. 1.17.13

    This turned out amazing! Great job Kim & thanks for sharing @ Inspiration Spotlight Hope your having a great week!!

  11. 1.17.13
    Marti said:

    Kim, It turned out fabulous! Thank you so much for sharing it at SHOW-licious Craft Showcase!


  12. 1.15.13

    This is SO clever and turned out wonderfully! Hopped over from Coastal Charm…Thanks for sharing!

  13. 1.15.13

    I’m visiting from the Clever Chicks Blog hop. I just love this! Would you consider sharing it tomorrow (1/16) on my Farmhouse Style Blog Hop?

  14. 1.15.13

    What a great DIY! Thanks for sharing at my Twirl & Take a Bow party! Have a great week.

  15. 1.15.13

    Fantastic! Think I need to pin this idea…. :)

  16. 1.15.13
    Jenna said:

    Love this!! So cute! Thanks for sharing!!

    Jenna @

  17. 1.15.13
    Jamie said:

    This is really adorable! I LOVE it ;) I’m a new follower.

  18. 1.14.13
    Michele said:

    Hi Kim, Love your sign!!!!!!

  19. 1.14.13

    Your sign looks AMAZING! Thanks for the “how to”. . .can’t wait to try this. :-)

  20. 1.14.13

    This is awesome! What a creative idea :) I love the “studs”. Thanks for sharing this at The Weekly Creative.

    Shannon @ Sewing Barefoot

  21. 1.14.13

    Very cool!

  22. 1.14.13
    dianaramblesdotcom said:

    This is so cool! Thanks for linking up!

  23. 1.14.13
    [email protected] Grace said:

    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

  24. 1.13.13
    Jen said:

    My train-obsessed four-year-old is drooling over this. This might just be the inspiration I need to figure out how to use my Silhouette!

  25. 1.12.13

    Awesome!! I love every detail!

  26. 1.12.13
    LUCY said:

    Hi Kim….what a great DIY…thank you so much for sharing with us…just wanted to let you know that we featured you at The Inspiration Gallery…have a great weekend.

  27. 1.12.13
    Ruth said:

    I love this sign. It is spectacular!!

  28. 1.12.13
    Chrissy @ Two Everyday Divas said:

    SO CUTE! You did a great job on this sign I am totally pinning for future reference!

  29. 1.12.13
    Mindi said:

    Very cute idea, coming from the pin me party! Pinning!

  30. 1.12.13

    Too cute and very cleverly done! I have the real thing in my yard and you did a wonderful version of it!

  31. 1.12.13

    Super cute, Kim! I love how industrial and rustic it is!

  32. 1.12.13
    Twiceblessed said:

    That looks fantastic, great job! :)

  33. 1.12.13
    Darling said:

    I love the idea of a railroad sign. I like the extra details with the washers. Very ingenious. Thanks for sharing.

  34. 1.12.13

    This turned out fabulous! It really looks like a RR sign! Thanks for sharing!

  35. 1.11.13

    This is so darn cute…adding it my fav list:)


  36. 1.11.13
    Kristine said:

    Freakin’ awesome! What a great idea! :)