DIY apothecary sign

For one of my craft parties, I had a special request from the host and it turned out AWESOME! This special request is a large wooden apothecary sign. It turned out perfect! It is durable and strong and looks like it’s been around forever. And…it was pretty simple to make. Win-win!!


  • 1″x 6″x 6′ wood board from the hardware store (with bark on the edges-optional)
  • (2) 1″x 3″‘s cut to 10″ in length.
  • Apothecary vinyl stencil cut from PetraStudioArt‘s file
  • Jacobean stain
  • White paint
  • Black paint
  • Purple glitter medium
  • Ebony stain
  • Palm sander, sanding block, or sand paper
  • Paint sprayer (optional)
  • Paint brush/sponge brush
  • Miter saw
  • Belt sander
  • Bradnailer or staple gun
  • Wood glue
  • Safety goggles
  • Tape measure

Step 1: Building your wood apothercary sign

Begin by measuring your 1x6x6 with a tape measure. Divide that measurement in half. Now measure and mark the number you just got onto your 1x6x6. This is where you are going to cut it. Cut it in half using your miter saw. Lay the boards next to each other and make sure they are the same length.

Decide what sides of your boards you want to be the front of your sign. I ended up purchasing a 1x6x6 board that had some original bark on it from the tree. I loved having this piece to work with because I wanted the bark look. So chose your side of the sign you want to be the front and place it face down on the work surface.

Take your 1x3x10″ pieces and place them on the back of your boards you just laid face down. Space them evenly, with one at each end (spaced from the edge about 4 inches). When you are happy with your spacing, apply some wood glue to them and glue them into place. Now to make sure it holds and is secure, nail or staple them into place. Let the glue dry before you begin antiquing the edges.

Step 2: antiquing the edges of your apothecary sign

If you were unable to find a board with natural bark on it, that’s alright. You are going to fake it. I observed the side of the board that already had bark on it and planned to make the other edges look similar. I accomplished this by using the belt sander. While holding firmly to the sign, I sanded off the edges/corners of the sign. I attempted to make it look as much like the original bark area.

Once you have all the edges sanded down and looking more like the natural bark side, brush off all of the saw dust. When you have a clean surface to work with, you are going to stain just the edges you just stained. This will give it a darker look and once painted will give the effect of bark.

Step 3: painting your apothecary sign white

After you have stained your edges, begin painting your sign white. Make note that the paint is not going stick to the stained area real well. That is ok, that’s part of how we get the bark look in the end. I spray painted mine, but I’m sure you can paint it with whatever you prefer painting with. It doesn’t need to be perfect, you are going to sand it down eventually anyway. Let the paint dry.

Step 4: antiquing you apothecary sign

When your white paint has dried completely, you are going to sand the whole surface down to antique it up a bit. Pay close attention to the edges as you do this step. The more you sand, the more the paint comes off.

Once you have antiqued your apothecary sign, blow off or brush off all the saw dust from sanding. Make sure your surface is cleaned off. Now you are going to stain it with the Ebony stain.

Using an old towel, dip a corner into the stain and spread it all over the apothecary sign. Next, use another old towel (or different section), that doesn’t have stain on i, to wipe off any excess stain from the sign. The harder you wipe the more the stain is removed. Set it aside to dry.
**Your apothecary sign is going to be almost black. Don’t worry about this, you are going to lighten it up in the next step, after the stain dries.

When your stain is dry, using the sand paper or palm sander, sand down the surface (It goes much faster and easier with a palm sander). You are doing this to lighten the stain. The more you sand, the more stain you remove. Watch closely, sometimes it removes the paint as well (which can also add to the antiqued look).

When you have sanded it enough to lighten it to the look you want, move on to the next step.

Step 5: applying the vinyl stencil and painting your apothecary sign.

Apply the stencil to your sign. Press firmly down on all edges to make sure it has adhered to the sign. Squirt some black paint out onto a paper plate. Using a sponge brush, begin gently dabbing your sign with the side of your sponge brush. Don’t worry about filling in the stencil completely the first time. You are going to repeat this about 3-4 times before the stencil is completely filled in.

Once you have your stencil filled in, you are going to apply the purple glitter medium.

You can do this by painting it on with a sponge brush or a bristle paint brush. After you have applied your glitter medium, you will want to pull the vinyl stencil off before the glitter medium gets too dry. (other wise it will pull it off too) So pull the stencil off, gently, making sure it doesn’t pull any of the paint or glitter medium up with it.

Let your sign dry flat before displaying it.

Wasn’t that so much fun! It’s always great to have fun decorations, but it’s even better to know that you actually made them. Now find the perfect place to display this authentic apothecary sign and amaze your friends and family with your crafty skills!

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