DIY Gifts for Surfers: Here’s Your Sign

Since today’s going to be a long day for most Americans, I thought it’s an excellent time to work on some gifts for the Holidays- after I voted, of course!

img_0641One of my best friends wanted me to make her a little “surf sign” to hang up on a piece of bamboo gate she’s got over her couch. She’s been wanting to make a few of her own, and hopefully this will give her some inspiration to make some in her own style too.

My thought for the sign was a double sided one, instead of the common “Margaritas Served Here” (they NEVER are. Liars.) Maybe something useful for when the surfer girls come over, or maybe a fake out if you need some surf me-time.

I picked up these little balsa wood cut outs at a craft store, but you can always use scrap wood, or even wood shingles from the hardware store.

To make these look a little more legit, I used a water-based stain in Mahogany. The water based stains paint on with a foam brush easily, and are not nearly as gnarly as actual wood stains. I’ve had this tube forever, a little goes a long way. Put too much on, and you might as well have painted it brown.


This type of stain I only found at the hardware store. If you do small crafts, a tube goes a long way.

Put a light coat of stain on one side of each sign, let it dry completely, then stain the other side. Don’t forget to cover the edges. If you get a little sloppy, no biggie, our friend sandpaper will make a reappearance.

This part is fun- you kind of mess up your work by sanding it with a coarse piece of sandpaper, especially on the edges:


Before I began painting the sign, I put one thin coat of spray sealant on the sides to be painted. It smooths the surface a bit, and also prevents your paint pen work from soaking into the balsa.


Sealing the base stain before decoration

Time to paint!

For this project, I tried to use my “craft” level paint pens. Painting balsa will TEAR UP your good pen nibs, so beware. You can use stencils, copy fonts, or just freehand it like I did (groovy, dude). I thought it would be good to give a simple surf report:

“Surf’s Up”img_6002


“It’s flat”.



I used pens from wide size down to micro size, and you can go nuts for donuts too. If you are a surfer or skater who doesn’t own a set of paint pens,

WHAT’S YOUR DEAL?!?! You need to try this bowl of happy, kids.


“Painters” paint pens are ok for this project- don’t use your GOOD pens that you use on your Surfboard!

Of course, once I finished up the design, I sealed it one more time with the spray, in a ventilated area, with a mask and goggles preferably, unless you’re into that sort of thing. Then the next steps will be rough for you to follow. Yikes.


What the hell does that say???

This sign needed a hanger, so I used some nice off white cotton macrame cord that looks like nautical rope. You can also use hemp or twine, just don’t make it too thin if you want the double overhand frayed knot decoration peeking out at the bottom between each half. I did this on each end, then lined up the hanger and glued in between the two halves. You can clamp these together, or put heavy objects on it, like I did.



Yep, they’re big paperweights now.

After allowing the glue-up to dry like this, it’s ready to go.




Lemon face :..(

I hope this gives her some painting stoke. It’s a stokeless desert around here since Matthew. Come back fun waves!







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