The idea for this sign actually came from Molly Weasley’s clock in the Harry Potter series that showed where everyone in her family was at the moment. Last Christmas I made one for my Mom to show where all of her family lives, and I recently made this one for my own house. I think it would also be fun to use this for big cities (London, New York, Paris) or favorite vacation destinations (the beach, ski resort, etc.)
Step 1: Making the Signs
For the signs, I used an 8-foot piece of 1x3 select pine ($6). You can find cheaper wood, but go for the good stuff. I cut it into eight 12-inch pieces, and then chopped the corners off with a miter saw to make the point.
Step 2: Painting the Signs and Screws
I didn’t want something that could split the wood, so I used flat-head screws. I put the screws in a cardboard box first to make painting easier. Keep your lettering in mind- I originally used yellow for some signs, but you couldn’t read white letters on it. You'll want to find a good spray paint rated for outdoors
Step 3: Letter the Signs
The signs were lettered with a paint pen (my wife did the lettering- much better handwriting). You could also do stickers or stencils, but I liked the way this looked. For the distances, I used this website: http://www.freemaptools.com/how-far-is-it-between.htm , which uses Google maps to give you “as the crow flies” distances. You’ll also want to note the compass direction for later.
Step 4: Drill Sign Holes
You’ll want to pre-drill the holes for the signs. I did 0.75" from the edges and 1.25" from the end. A scrap piece of paper bent around the end will help you mark it the same way each time.
Step 5: PVC Painting
The next step is to prepare the post. I used a simple piece of 2.5” PVC and an end cap- get the stiffest PVC you can find, because you don’t want it to bend. The first time I did this I tried painting it on plastic sheeting- bad idea, it stuck to the plastic. It worked a lot better using some scrap wood to lift it up, but you’ll want to be ready to install when it dries because it will bend if you leave it out for a long time.
After I finished, I thought it would have been a nice to wire an outdoor lamp or install a solar light on top instead of the cap. Maybe next time.
Step 6: PVC Painting 2
This is where your choice of spray paint is really important. The first paint I used kept running off the PVC so it took multiple coats (and 2 cans) to keep the white from showing through. And then, any time something touched it, the paint chipped off. I’m trying not to sound like a shill for Krylon, but their Krylon Fusion for Plastics really did the job right on the first coat. Also, on my first try with the cheap spray paint, the printed markings on the PVC kept showing through. Didn't matter the second time (covered easily by the good paint), but it comes off with steel wool. I put some masking tape on the end so I could cement the cap on later.
Step 7: Sign Base
When I made the sign for my mom this is how I did the base the first time- some scrap PVC and tees. Fill it with water and cover it with dirt and it will hold the sign up no problem.
Step 8: Sign Post Hole
For the post at my house, we wanted to install it in a flower bed in the front yard. I used a 2.75" garden auger bit ($14 at Home Depot). You have to be patient- drill a few inches at a time, pull the dirt out, and go again. I was able to go about 24 inches down, so I cut 12 inches off the 10-foot PVC, because I only wanted it to be 7 feet above the ground when done.
Make sure you’re not drilling around any water/gas/electrical/cable/telephone/sewer lines- call your utility companies to be sure, and they’ll come mark it for free.
Step 9: Sign Installation
Take your time installing the signs. I used my iPhone compass to point each sign in the right direction, then pre-drilled the PVC through one of the holes. Install the first screw, then level the sign, then pre-drill and install the second screw. It helps to have a quick-change drill bit (or 2 drills).
Step 10: Finished
And that’s it! Now you have a nice piece of art in your yard that can also be very meaningful to you. Enjoy!