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diy project: paint-by-number hex symbol coasters

by Halligan

Hex signs are a form of traditional Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. They have been painted on the sides of barns to ward off evil spirits, offer good fortune or wish happiness for hundreds of years. These sentiments are perfect for the harvest season! Here is a colorful interpretation for your Thanksgiving table to wish all your guests health and prosperity for the holiday season. — Halligan

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • wood log (or you can purchase pre-made cut pieces here or here or here)
  • 4 paint colors + white paint
  • clear fast-drying waterproof sealant
  • paintbrushes
  • carbon paper or tracing paper to make your own carbon paper
  • pencil and ballpoint pen
  • computer and printer
  • tape
  • miter saw and sandpaper (if not purchasing pre-made stump pieces)


1. Print out templates to the size of your wood. I made my images large in case you have a large circle of wood. You can shrink by scaling down the print-size percentage.

2. If you did not purchase your log pieces, cut 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick rings out of your wood log. My log was about 4″ in diameter. Sand surfaces until smooth.

3. Cut out paper design circles and a carbon paper circle the same size. If you can’t find carbon paper (don’t forget to look in your check book), you can make your own with tracing paper and pencil lead. Instructions here.

4. Tape both layers on top of the wood, with the carbon paper facing the wood and the design facing up, and use a ballpoint pen to trace design.

5. After the design is lightly lined, paint all shapes in with a thin layer of white paint.

6. Use your paint-by-numbers guides to paint colors.

7. Seal with a quick-drying clear sealant.

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  • These are so fun and so unique – I’m itching to get making for Christmas, (quite panicky, in fact, as time moves on too quick and I promised myself to make each family member a Christmas gift this year!) – maybe I’ll give these a go this w/end – I’ll post them if I do (& if I may?). I’ve got a knitting project online at the mo if you are interested…
    Thanks, Claire

  • I was wondering if you knew other places besides the wild outdoors, where I could get tree branches to make my own wood coasters? Would a local Armstrong have it?

  • I’ve been seeing a lot of wood log coasters and stuff– really like them. A stamp (esp. hand-carved) would be fun too.

  • Thank you so much for the templates so many possibilities to use them with. Fabulous tutorial!

  • really amazing. Oh so gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.
    Lisa great idea about the stamp too!

  • Absolutely darling! Thanks for sharing this…The cheery colours will help a soul through the long grey winter ahead, too!

  • I am in architecture school and asked our woodshop manager about a project like this recently and he said not to bother because eventually wood cuts like this will dry and just crack into pieces… does anyone have thoughts on this? I don’t want to waste my time if they’re just going to fall apart. That’d be a crappy gift to give.

  • I love this idea! I’m wondering what sealant you used? I often have the problem when I make coasters of the dried sealant sticking to the cup. Any “clear fast-drying waterproof sealant” suggestions? thanks!

  • Hi there! Can someone please tell me the type of paint I need to make these?
    They are so great!

  • Hex signs remind me of my childhood. I grew up in a Pennsylvania Dutch community (my parents and grandparents actually speak the language) so these totally take me back and are so perfect. I know my son would love to do these, too and it would be great to teach him about some of our Heritage.

  • I seem to be seeing more and more of this type of stuff – things made out of wood slices. I wonder what sparked it. Cool DIY project! My wife would love this.

  • Awesome project idea! I saw this the day it was posted and quickly did some research on economical pre-cut pieces since I don’t have easy access to limbs or ways to cut them… I ordered some pine slices from rusticwoodworking.com and received them today–beautiful grain and only $1/per slice! It appears their inventory changes out rapidly so there are plenty of good options and ranges of quantities and cuts. Can’t wait to try this project out!

  • These are absolutely gorgeous for the quirky at heart. I just stumbled across your site searching for DIY projects and absolutely love it. I will be returning! :)

  • Hey, they look fab! I agree with RamonaRode, do you have any advice re sealant? I have also made coasters but hot cups always stick to the coaster…thanks!

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  • I’ve also been searching for a good clear fast-drying waterproof sealant. Any specific recommendations on brand?