I came across some pictures the other day of an old project I always meant to share with you and decided now was the perfect time. Mostly because Independence Day is next week and this is a fun, quick décor project.
Anyone remember way back to one of the first posts I shared about how to make a weathered wood sign? Well, this one falls along those same lines. It’s a weathered American flag sign.
Whenever I make a flag, I always try to make it as close to regulation size as possible. I’ve made so many flags over the last couple years that I have the formulas memorized but this chart is super handy to figure it out.
Basically all you need to know is the hoist (height of the flag) is, in terms of ratios, 1. The fly is the width of the flag and it is 1.9. To figure the size of the flag, you’ll your desired height and multiply it by 1.9. You use the same method to figure out the union (where the stars are). It is figured at .5385 (7/13) of the total height for the hoist of the union and .76 of the total height for the fly of the union. It initially sounds complicated but it’s really not. This flag was 9 ¾” by 18 ½”.
To make this flag, all you’ll need is a piece of plywood the size of your flag (I used ¾” plywood but any thickness would do just fine), lattice wood, paint and brushes, glue, sandpaper, and a few tools (miter saw, circular saw, power sander, and clamps). I used a vinyl stencil I made on my vinyl cutting machine but you do not need one to make this flag. You can use painters tape to mark your lines and hand paint the stars or glue on wood stars. I love to use these stars on my flags. They have several different sizes but ½” stars are perfect for this sign if you stick with the size I used.
I started by spray painting my backer with white paint. Why is this step necessary? The last thing you want when glue your top layer on is for the backer to be showing through when the pieces on top don’t line up just right.
Next is to cut the strips of lattice board into various sized strips. You can see how I do this process in my post about the weather wood sign. You just want to make sure none of your joints line up vertically on the sign. Lay them out on the backer to make sure everything looks the way you want it to.
If there is any overage on the sides, you can trim them up on the table saw or with a circular saw after the glue dries. I recommend numbering your pieces once you have them where you want them. It makes putting them back during the glue up much easier. Since we’re talking about glue, take off all of the lattice pieces and slather that thing in wood glue.
Place the lattice pieces back on the backer and allow the glue to dry. I recommend stacking heavy items on top to help hold the lattice pieces in place.
Once the glue is dry and you’ve done any necessary trimming, paint the whole thing white if you’re using a stencil. If you are going to hand paint the stars or glue some on, mark off the area for the union and paint everything else white.
Like I mentioned earlier, I used a vinyl stencil to make my flag. If you are using my dimensions for your flag, then you will need to tape off ¾” strips so you can paint the red stripes. Your flag will start and end with red.
Make sure your vinyl or tape is pressed down as smoothly as possible. The lattice pieces are rough and will need all the extra help possible. After you’ve smoothed all the edges to ensure they’ve adhered, I recommend painting over it with white again to help let the paint seal any visible gaps. Once the white is dry, paint the red stripes. I love to use DecoArt acrylic paints and no, I’m not getting paid to say that. I’ve used their products for more years than I can count and I love them.
When the red is dry, tape off the union and paint it blue.
If you’ve used a vinyl stencil, peel off those stars! And the stripes. If you didn’t use a stencil, now is when you can hand paint the stars or glue on wood stars. Make any necessary touch ups.
If you like the clean, bold look, then you can move on to the frame instructions. If you want it a little more rust, then I have one extra step for you. Sanding! Using a 120 grit piece of sandpaper, go over the flag until you reach your desired level of weathering.
Now let’s make a frame! Actually, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. I’d paint the sides to give it a finished look. If you want a more polished look (polished means you can’t see all the different layers of the plywood and the lattice strips.
I used some of the lattice strips to make the frame for the flag. I employed simple butt joints ( where you butt one piece of wood against another to make a 90 degree angle) to position the frame around the flag.
Before you cut your frame pieces, you’ll need to decide which sides of the frame will overlap the others. I don’t have any hard and fast rules about which sides I choose to be my longer sides. I just go with whatever looks best to me at the time. For this flag, I made the top and bottom longer than the sides. To make your cuts, take the length of the long side pus the width of two frame pieces. On the short side, it’s simply the length of that side. Clear as mud? Let’s go to the pictures.
So clearly, I didn’t do a very good job about making sure everything was squared up. But it’s rustic so we’re still good. I stained the frame pieces with Minwax Jacobean. I just glued up frame to the flag and held it in place with clamps until it dried but you can also use a brad nailer to attach them. I finish my signs with an aerosol clear coat. If your sign has any white at all, like this flag, use a water-based poly. If you use anything other than water based, all the white areas will yellow over time. Trust me. It’s heartbreaking. Anyway, that’s it! You made a weathered flag sign just in time for the Fourth of July!