It's that time of year to start warming up for those Happy Halloween greetings. And also to pick a theme, because we all know the best part of Halloween besides Halloween costumes, is decorating! Let me show you how I made the most charming DIY Sleepy Hollow Sign from a single board of plywood scrapwood.
It's that time of the year, the spooky season, and it's time to pick a Halloween theme! I decided my theme this year will be The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. Since this is the first time I'll actually be using Halloween decorations I made a list of elements I might want to include.
10 Creative Ideas for a Sleepy Hollow Theme
Even in Halloween fun, I like to be organized, so before I jump into any decorating theme I start to think about the story I'm trying to portray. These are 10 creative ideas I was able to come up with, some projects I've already done, and others I'm going to share coming really soon!
- Halloween Sign
- Apothecary Jars
- Brass Candlesticks + Black Candles
- Oil Lamps
- Black + White Color Scheme
- Black + White Pumpkins
- Jack-O-Lantern the Headless Horseman head
- Black Tablecloth+ Napkins
- Halloween Twig Tree
- Antique Books Ichabod Crane was a School teacher, after all
Naturally, I am doing an underlying victorian theme since I prefer that aesthetic. Also, it leads right into Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci's Sleepy Hollow movie. But a close second favorite was the Disney version, Adventures of Ichabod with Mr. Toad.
Supplies + Tools
- Wood or Craft Wood Plaque
- Sleepy Hollow Sign Design
- Laminator + Laminating Sheets
- X-Acto Knife or Crafting Knife
- Black Paint like DecoArt Americana Multi-Surface Satin Paint
- Paint Brushes
- Crafting Mat
- Steel Hook Screw
- Eye Bolt
- Impact Driver + Drill Bits
- 4" Screws
- Early American Stain
- 1" Spade Bit
- 80 Pound Cardstock
- Orbital Sander + 120 Grit Sandpaper
- 2" Angled Brush
Watch a Video Tutorial on How to Make a Sleepy Hollow Scrap Wood Sign
Step One - Creating a Stencil
For this step, you'll need a Sign Design, Laminator, Laminating Sheets, X-Acto Knife, 80 lb Cardstock, and Crafting Pad.
The number one thing I attribute to the crisp paint job, and the other signs and designs I have painted, is because of the stencils. Though I'm pretty good at coloring in the lines, this way I have the lines to guide me.
Creating a Sleepy Hollow Sign Stencil
This is such a simple process and it really almost guarantees great results. As long as you don't mind detail painting! I personally thrive on that kind of creative work. This is how I create my stencils.
- The first thing you need to do is download the file (just click on the photo above).
- Then open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat.
- In the print screen click "Poster".
- Then adjust the size to 190%.
- It will print on 4 different sheets.
- At this point, you'll laminate the sheets.
- Then using the crafting mat and the X-Acto knife cut out your design.
- Being able to use the Background Remover tool is a Canva Pro tool, but they do offer a free trial.
- This is the exact same process for creating the cutout template you'll trace onto your wood as well, should you go in that direction.
Step Two - Cutting Your Scrapwood
For this step, you'll need your Plywood scrap (or other scrap wood), jigsaw, 1" Spade bit, impact driver, a jigsaw (with a wood blade), an Orbital Sander, and 120-Grit Sandpaper.
If you don't have a jigsaw or scrapwood, you can definitely purchase a ready-made plaque from any craft store or even Walmart and adjust the project to accommodate what you do have.
How to Cut Out Your Own Sleepy Hollow Sign
I love being able to use scrap wood for projects like this. Because it's the ultimate way to avoid waste and decorate without spending additional money. But if you don't have scrap wood you can still totally do this project!
- Print out the template with the directions above.
- Then make sure it's symmetrical and tape it together securely.
- After that, center it on your piece of wood and use a pencil to trace around it.
- Then drill a 1" hole on the top and bottom in the circular curve. The bonus to this strategy is it will give a good place for the jigsaw blade to enter. But it also gives it a beautiful clean circular shape.
- At this point, you just need to use a slow and steady hand to cut out the shape with your jigsaw.
- Then, in the end, make sure you sand it down really nicely and smoothly with 120-grit sandpaper and an orbital sander.
Note: Make sure you are using a wood-cutting blade on your jigsaw. You can alternately also use a scroll saw to cut the shape out. But a jigsaw is more common and easier to use.
Step Three - Painting Your Sleepy Hollow Sign
For this step, you'll need Black Paint, Paint brushes, your stencil, and a pencil.
You may find it easier to start by securing whichever part of the stencil you're working on with a piece of tape. It will help keep it in place when you're tracing out the design.
How to Cut Out, Trace, and Paint a Design on Scrap Wood
This is such a straightforward process you will easily have this finished in 30 minutes or less, depending on how steady your hand is! I'm a sucker for perfectionism and clean lines, but if painting isn't your thing you can alternately use a paint pen, a black sharpie, or even a vinyl stencil!
- Pick whichever stencil is easiest for you to start on.
- Then slowly cut out the pieces you want to use in your sign. I tend to apply a lot of pressure to the X-Acto knife so I don't have to make multiple passes.
- Once all the pieces are cut out, line up your stencils and trace all the elements with a sharp pencil.
- At this point pick a square paintbrush and a thinner pointed tip. You need one for making straight lines and filling in and one for making the pointed parts.
- Then slowly begin painting in the lines. It took me about 20-30 minutes in total.
Pro Tip: I chose to do the details and the perimeter stripe separately from the main font in the center. The reasoning behind this was I wanted the font larger and also I didn't want the font broken up between 4 separate stencil pieces.
Step Four - Mounting Your Sign on a Base
For this step, you'll need a piece of driftwood or another type of pole, or stick, 4" screws, an Impact Driver, Drill Bits, an Eye Bolt, and a Steel Hook Screw.
I almost got rid of this piece of driftwood several months back when I was downsizing a bit and trying to clean up some piles. As you can imagine, I'm very happy I didn't! This piece of driftwood has been sitting around for 3-4 years waiting for its time to get used.
The bolts were also sitting in my stash. Honestly, I probably purchased them for another project at some point and never actually did it!
How to Create a Base and Pole for Your Sleepy Hollow Sign
I can think of several other ways you could mount this sign, including just using a picture hanger kit. But if you can, try to think outside the box. Because creative hanging only adds to the charm of the entire project!
- I started by making the bottom of the driftwood perfectly straight. So, I cut it with my miter saw, but you could also use a handsaw.
- Then I drilled two pilot holes in the bottom to make it easier to install it on a mount.
- At this point, I cut the rest of the plywood into a clean rectangle and put two 4" screws up through the bottom of the plywood into the driftwood.
- Once the driftwood has a base you can drill a pilot hole down the center of the top of the outstretched arm.
- Then insert the eye bolt from the bottom and secure it with the nut until it's tight.
- And then drill a pilot hole down the center of the top of the sign, insert the hook screw, and slowly turn the bolt until it's completely tightened.
Step Five - Protective Top Coat
For this step, you'll need a protective top coat of some sort, I use Polycrylic, and a 2" angled brush or another brush of your choice. Alternatively, you could also use a wax or a spray-on poly.
Admittedly this is the easiest part of the process and the finishing touch that really makes it shine. Also, it makes it weatherproof for being outdoors if you want to use it as a part of your outdoor Halloween decorations.
Give a Quick Protective Coat
I have a few tips for you if you choose to use Polycrylic, it's a great top coat for several reasons, but does require a bit of skill to get that beautiful finish.
- Apply generously with a brush.
- Be quick because it dries fast.
- Don't overbrush, the brushmarks will stick.
- Never shake a can of poly, slowly stir with a stick.
- Make a nice smooth pass all the way from one end to the other and leave it.
- Sand with 220-grit sandpaper between coats, wipe clean and apply a second coat if you feel you need it.
17 Great Halloween Theme Ideas
I'm a big fan of picking a theme for holidays because it just makes it easier to decorate more cohesively. It also gives me a chance to plan out my projects. But it's also a great way to get ready for an epic party.
Good Halloween theme ideas could be inspired by practically anything! I love a good macabre victorian type theme, but you can also get them from many other creative works of art. I came up with a few from good musicals, classic books, scary movies, or even Halloween movies with modern twists!
- Little Shop of Horrors
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
- The Corpse Bride or really any of Tim Burton's movies
- Hocus Pocus witch theme A classic with Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy
- Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
- Edward Scissorhands
- Frankenstein's Monster
- The Addam's Family
- Phantom of the Opera
- Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde
- Sweeney Todd: The Barber of Fleet Street
- Sherlock Holmes
- Goose Bumps
These are just a few I came up with, let me know in the comments what you would add.
Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope I have given you some inspiration, ideas for creativity, and maybe a push to start creating your own wonderland one piece or project at a time.
Don't forget to come back for more great projects like these DIY Projects and many more!
Hi, I'm Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→