Making a Rustic Star

For a period of time, I was making framed wood signs, sometimes words, symbols, and even paintings. One of the most popular was the rustic star. I haven’t made anything like these in about five years, but still sometimes get questions about them, so I wanted to share the steps in how to make them if anyone wants to try it out.

Materials required:

  • Rustic frame – I buy these from Hobby Lobby, and always aim to buy them when they are 50% off
  • Minwax water based wood stain – Crimson – get the smallest container you can from Home Depot or Lowe’s
  • Wood glue – I use Gorilla and probably didn’t use clear, but if i had to do it again, I would
  • Wood slats for flooring or paneling
  • Carbon trace paper
  • Gray & White paint
  • Modeling paste
  • Screws
  • Maybe a few other things…

Start by taking your wood and creating a ‘canvas’. Measure your wood to fit within the frames you have purchased and cut them accordingly. You may have to take one of your planks and cut lengthwise to fit entirely within the frame. I found that I always had to cut at least one plank. If you see in the picture below, the screw is right about in the middle of one of the planks. The planks I used were very light wood and fairly thin. I used the even side for the front, the back side had the grooves that you see below.


Once you’ve got your planks ready, and know they are right sized for your frame, glue them together. Put the glue in the grooves, then add a plank and keep going until your canvas is complete. Don’t use so much glue that any squeezes through. Since the boards are thin, I suggest gluing them together, then putting something heavy on them so they lay flat.

Once dry, use your stain on the front of your canvas. Apply as you would any wood stain by wiping on and off, not leaving any excess. For distressing, you can sand off spot sections once it’s dry, or apply heavier in some areas. You can see in the pictures that I did sand off some areas.

You’re now ready for the star. I created a stencil by printing out a star shape. If the star is too big, I would tape the pieces of paper together once printed. I liked a lot of space around the star, so I would make sure the width of the canvas is close twice the width of the star. The frames are not square, so there will be more space on the height.

Once you have the star, determine the best location for the star on your canvas by finding the center point of the star, and matching that to the center of your canvas. Tape the top of your paper to the canvas. Place the graph paper under it (dark black side down), and trace the outline of the star on your paper. Depending on the size, you may have to move the paper around underneath the paper as you go. Once complete, you will have a traced star on top of your red stained wood.

Mix some modeling paste with gray paint in the center of the star and use either a palette knife, or even a plastic knife to spread within the lines of the star. The idea is to provide some texture and raise the star on the canvas. It doesn’t have to be exact, but you want to keep the edges of your star straight, so stay close to the lines for a sharper star. If you don’t have modeling paste, you can try with some spackle, but that dries a lot faster, and is a lot chippier.


Once the gray paint is dry, paint the entire star white. At this point, you shouldn’t see any of the carbon outline on the canvas. When that is dry, use an electric sander, or some sandpaper and sand the star. In the above picture, you can see the gray peaking through the white, this is because of the sanding.

When you’re done with the sanding, take your canvas and put it in your frame. Screw the canvas to the frame at an angle in multiple places on the back. At this point you’re done, sign it if you want :). Additional pictures below.

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