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Craft a Creepy Halloween Sign for Outdoor Decoration

Updated on September 11, 2014

This Halloween, decorate your house with a home-made Halloween Sign

I'm big on Halloween, love every bit of it, from the changing of the seasons, history of Halloween, Trick or Treating, the costumes, and the creepy vibes. I was even married on Halloween Day.

We try to go big on Halloween when it comes to decorating, and once even dug a grave in our front yard.

So yeah, Halloween is big at my house. We make a lot of decorations. I got the idea to make a neat sign for Halloween that we could save and use every year between some crafting I was doing crafting some signs as gifts and a woodworking book I was reading.

All photos: Taken by yours truly.

Step 1 - Get a good idea!

Then sketch it out on paper

You are going to need to plan how you want your sign to look. This year, I have decided to craft a sign that says "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

This is a very famous quote and sign from "The Divine Comedy" more commonly known as "Dante's Inferno" which is actually only part of the complete work. It was also a sign at the gates to Hell, so I think it is very fitting for Halloween ("inferno" in Italian means hell, The Divine Comedy was written in Italian).

So I am going to sketch my idea out on paper. I am going to look at some of the drawings that have been used in the past and get some inspiration.

Also, imagine what the person who made the sign would have used? For my sign, I imagine it is some poor lost soul who daubed a warning with his fingers on a piece of wood before entering. So when I make my sign, I will be using my fingers.

Step 2 - Shape your sign

Most signs for Halloween will want to be somewhat weathered, so reclaiming wood during the rest of the year is a good practice for future Halloween signs. I happen to have just the piece available, old and weathered.

If you have to use new wood, distressing your wood is going to be a big project.

The shape of the sign also makes a difference. An old sign will not have sharp edges or corners, so be rough with your sign so that it looks just right.

I have also seen a length of chain used to distress furniture, and I think would work perfectly for this.

If you are trying to do something a little more ornate (like maybe an old sign like "Vampire Hunter for Hire, Inquire Within") you may need to start with fresh wood and be very meticulous to get it right.

Step 3 - Add the Lettering

Letters should be big, bold, and easy to read, especially with Halloween signs, as it is frequently dark out when Trick or Treaters arrive. Consider a dark background with light colored letters (like bone colored maybe) or a Light background with Black or Red writing. Black and Orange will work, but it needs to be a BRIGHT orange. Black and red will be very hard to read.

If you want to be really creative and fun, you could try glow in the dark paint.

Replacing your normal porch light with a black light is also a nice touch and gives everything a spooky glow.

Lettering Finished

Step 4 - Add the Details

I added some claw marks and some teeth marks to make it seem more interesting, but you can add whatever you want. I used a chisel and hammer to create both effects. I am also going to add some wood ash, because I imagine there might be lots of ash in the Inferno.

Remember, nothing beats the real thing. If you want it to look like someone hit your sign with an axe, by all means, hit it with an axe (not too hard, don't split it).

Blood can be made by mixing equal parts karo or corn syrup and ketchup. Maybe a bloody handprint if you are making a zombie sign - that would be fun!

Maybe next year we'll do zombies!

The tools I used to distress the sign

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The tools I used.Place your chisel at an angle and tap lightly with your hammer.  Work slowly to not make a mistake.Closeup of "scratch marks"I used some paint to outline the scratch marks and teeth marks (on the lower left - notice the large canines)
The tools I used.
The tools I used.
Place your chisel at an angle and tap lightly with your hammer.  Work slowly to not make a mistake.
Place your chisel at an angle and tap lightly with your hammer. Work slowly to not make a mistake.
Closeup of "scratch marks"
Closeup of "scratch marks"
I used some paint to outline the scratch marks and teeth marks (on the lower left - notice the large canines)
I used some paint to outline the scratch marks and teeth marks (on the lower left - notice the large canines)


Slow: goblins, witches and ghosts playing! (Like Slow:Children Playing sign)

Ghoul Crossing

Danger: Zombies in Roadway (road with stick figure in it, arms out like a zombie)

Haunted House Ahead

Vampire Hunter for Hire, ask within

All Treats, No Tricks

If you want to read about a real, spooky place, take a look at my page on Danvers State Hospital, the place that inspired Batman's Arkham Asylum.

What Decorations do you craft at home for Halloween? - Here are some ideas for a sign too!

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    • Judy Filarecki profile image

      Judy Filarecki 4 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      Sounds like a lot of fun. I guess I'll have to make it for next years since last night was the big night.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      This looks like a lot of fun, I have an old shed that I could cover with these.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great idea! Thanks.

    • qikey1 lm profile image

      qikey1 lm 4 years ago

      I am not the decorator in the of my sons is..and he will love this idea..I will pass it on to him :)

    • KamalaEmbroidery profile image

      KamalaEmbroidery 4 years ago

      Love all crafts for Halloween.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great craft idea. Signs make great decorations!

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 4 years ago

      I love using string lights inside glass pumpkins. I also like to decorate my purchased pumpkin-soon-to-be-jackolantern with flowers and nuts. A glue gun comes in handy. I wrote a lens last year about how I made a "Bright Eyed Pumpkin".

    • darkflowers profile image

      Anja Toetenel 4 years ago from The Hague, the Netherlands

      Great crafty and creepy idea, I like it :)

    • nickylv profile image

      nickylv 4 years ago

      We always decorate for Holloween, this will make a fun addition.

    • CaztyBon profile image

      CaztyBon 4 years ago

      I really liked your sign idea it was great. You have some really creative sign ideas!!

    • ghoststorylover profile image

      ghoststorylover 4 years ago

      Love it!

      And I love these other ideas too! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great informative how to lens. I love Halloween and I also love the Divine Comedy. A win-win

    • profile image

      burntchestnut 4 years ago

      I never decorated for Halloween because I live in an apartment, but I love driving around neighborhoods and seeing how others decorate their houses and yards. Besides, they do all the work and I get to enjoy it for free!

    • profile image

      TommysPal 4 years ago

      This looks like fun. I used to make homemade decorations when my son was young. My favorite was making a giant spider web with fishing line. It was tedious but I liked the end results.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am actually going to try making a paper haunted house! I may try this as well. I will go searching for distressed wood this weekend. Thanks for the fab idea!!

    • Grifts profile image

      Devin Gustus 4 years ago

      @thecrochetcubby: Do you have any pictures?

    • profile image

      UKBusinesses 4 years ago

      What a brilliant idea guys! Thanks

    • profile image

      jigosan 4 years ago

      Thanks for the Idea, although I was expecting phrases to be used but still a great IDEA.

    • Meganhere profile image

      Meganhere 4 years ago

      I love this sign. What a great idea!

    • tammywilliams09 profile image

      tammywilliams09 4 years ago

      Thanks for the idea and instructions.

    • thecrochetcubby profile image

      thecrochetcubby 4 years ago

      We live on a corner lot and do up the whole house and yard. We even have a graveyard with a rickety wooden fence.

    • BrownEyedGirl69 profile image

      BrownEyedGirl69 4 years ago

      Love the sign.

    • profile image

      Roxannetp 4 years ago

      dry ice in water for cool fog effects

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 4 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Very interesting, and digging a grave in the front yard WOW!!!!