Easily Make Your Own Wooden Hiking Signs
Just recently the family and I bought a nice, large track of land in the western NC mountains. The property has a great open area for our home and gardens but also includes a dense forest. The majority, in fact, of the land is densely wooded. The first thought was to cut out some great hiking trails that connect much of the areas great pieces of the property together.
We, as a family, hike as much as we can and my husband section hikes the Appalachian Trail every year so you can easily say, we love to hike. I remembered that everyone of our trails we hike has signs that state the trail name at the trail head and include markings that show you are on the right trail along the path. So, I decided to make some pretty cool universal hiker signs for our own trails. This I hope will help us as the owners, along with visiting family and friends find and follow the trails especially when they start to get overgrown by nature.
Plan and cut out the wooden signs
The materials came to me free because they were all leftover pieces. The signs themselves were made with throw away lumber from our deck. Pressure treated deck board made up the signs, in fact. My leftover pieces are not all the same size but quite close, around 5″ x 6″. You can cut yours all the same size if you prefer. I wasn’t too worried about perfection on this because they will be outside and truly no one will see the size differences.
Next, I needed to get my template for the hiker. I traced the universal hiker sign from the internet. I just taped a white piece of paper to my computer screen and traced the symbol. After taking off the computer screen, I then used clear packing tape to tape the front and the back of the traced piece of paper. Finally, I cut the interior part of the hiker out. You can use either scissors or a razor blade type knife. This method works great for any symbol you want to make a cheap stencil of, not just the universal hiker.
Now it is time to draw out the stencil onto the piece of wood. Using a sharpie, trace out the hiker or any wanted stencil design onto the clean piece of wood. Super easy so far, huh? Well the next part gets a bit harder and more time consuming.
My little hikers were meant to be cut out, as in routed. I chose to make my about 1/4″ deep but you can make yours more shallow if you wish. A handheld Dremel with wood routing bit was the sole tool in cutting out my hikers. I do not know names or sizes of Dremel bits so I took a picture of it for you to see. I am not a Dremel queen so if you know or like a better bit to use then by all means please use that. Use whatever makes the job easier for you. Once I got use to routing with the Dremel, each sign took about 15 minutes from start to finish. I also made sure I routed on the sharpie outline. This made the picture an appropriate size.
I also didn’t route the hiking stick as deep as rest of the picture. It is a narrower line and so by making it shallower I was able to keep it smaller. If you want this part as deep as the rest then your best bet would be to change out your Dremel bit to a smaller one. To be honest, I was plain lazy and didn’t want to change it out for one small part of the picture.
These signs are made with pressure treated wood decking leftover pieces as stated previously. They are made to withstand the outdoor elements far longer than other wood building material. But I wanted to go a step farther in staining the signs both for looks and for weatherproofing.
Along with the leftover wood pieces from my deck, I also had leftover stain. This was perfect for both front, back, and sides of my hiker signs. You can use a sponge or a rag to apply the stain. I used a brand that had sealant within the wood stain so there was no real need for an extra water barrier sealant.
The stain didn’t really go into the routed picture area which was good because I had other plans for it. I wanted it to standout, as it is a sign to be very visual to any hiker. My husband’s shed also had leftover white exterior paint. Very perfect for my next step. Using a small painters brush and after the stain had dried, I painted the inside cut out of my hikers. I was very generous with my white paint. Being that they were routed 1/4 of an inch deep, I had a lot of room to fill up with paint.
Once the paint had dried, then it was time to start putting up my signs along my hiking trails. With the husbands help using a framing nail gun, we shot two nails that were large enough to go through both the sign and the tree. I have been putting them up as I go along and where ever they seem to need a sign. A total of 16 signs have been made so I have many on hand to work with on our mountain property.
I loved making these signs. Everything looks like it belongs in a state or federal park.