Universal Woodcrafts

Custom Carved Signs, Wood Names, Decals, and More

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact us.

General

1. What type of wood do you use to make your signs?

We use Western Red Cedar: a decay-resistant wood that is easy to care for and to keep looking new. It is often used for outdoor construction, including decks, gazebos, fences, and patio furniture.

You may contact us to request another type of wood. However, keep in mind that the price will most likely change.

2. Are your signs for indoors or outdoors?

Our signs come to you already treated for the outdoors, but they can be used for both outdoors and indoors.

3. Are your signs one-sided or two-sided?

Our signs are all made one-sided unless requested otherwise. If you would like a two-sided sign, contact us. The price for a two-sided sign increases 50%.

4. How much do your signs cost? How does the pricing work?

The prices of our signs are based on the size and type of wood used. As long as there is not an excessive amount of lettering, any text is included at no additional cost. All art is an additional charge that depends upon the amount of detail involved.

5. Do you ever offer any sales or discounts?

We do not offer sales on any of our custom-made signs. We believe our prices are already at an affordable and competitive rate for the quality level of work that we offer.

We can, however, offer a reasonable discount on flawed boards that we would not want to give to a customer paying full price. These boards may have extra knots, chips, imperfections, discolorations, warps, etc. If you prefer this option, you will have to contact us or see us at an event. As an additional note, those who purchase signs with premium art get the best quality boards.

Ordering

1. How do I order a sign?

Read through this FAQ as well as the How to Order page. You might also want to take a look at the Gallery pages for ideas.

2. Should there be an apostrophe in my name?

Please note that although the following is provided as a guide for those who want their signs to be grammatically correct, we do not insist that you follow these rules. If you want to put "The Schultz's" on your sign, feel free to do so. Just know that once we make it incorrect, we will not be able to correct it without requiring you to pay for a new sign. For this reason, as well as to prevent any unintentional mistakes, if you do request that your sign be made incorrect, we will always confirm this with you before we begin your sign.

Whether or not a name needs an apostrophe depends on a number of factors:

1.) If it's a name that refers to ONE person (whether it's a first name, a nickname, or even a last name that the person goes by) AND that person OWNS or is in possession of something, then you should add an apostrophe + s ('s) to the end of the name, like so:

Dave's Garage
Lisa's Kitchen
Chris's Bar*

* An apostrophe + s ('s) should generally be added to names ending in "s" but can be optional. The apostrophe + s adds the "es" sound, so Chris's is pronounced "Chris-es." In some names, however, it might look or sound odd, especially if the name ends in "ss," so it is generally left to one's own discretion. Biblical and classical names like Jesus, Moses, and Socrates almost always have the extra "s" omitted.

If something is owned by two people or more and you are listing each first name separately, attach an apostrophe + s ('s) to the end of the FINAL name in the list, like so:

Dave and Lisa's Hideaway
Bill, Sue, Jacob, & Katie's Camper

If multiple items are owned individually (for example, each person has their own separate room or vehicle, whatever the case may be), attach an apostrophe + s ('s) to EACH name, like so:

Isabella's and Madison's Rooms
Joe's & Robert's Motorcycles

2.) If it's a name that refers to MULTIPLE people (as a collective unit or family, such as a LAST NAME) but WITHOUT reference to anything belonging to that family, then you would just pluralize the name:

Add just an "s" to pluralize most last names, like so:

The last name "Smith" becomes "The Smiths"
The last name "Lee" becomes "The Lees"

For last names ending in "s", "z", "sh", "ch", and "x", add an "es", like so**:

The last name "Jones" becomes "The Joneses" (as in the phrase "Keeping up with the Joneses")
The last name "James" becomes "The Jameses"

The last name "Schultz" becomes "The Schultzes"
The last name "Alvarez" becomes "The Alvarezes"
The last name "Rodriguez" becomes "The Rodriguezes"

The last name "Marsh becomes "The Marshes"
The last name "Ash" becomes "The Ashes"
The last name "Bush" becomes "The Bushes"

The last name "Church" becomes "The Churches"
The last name "March" becomes "The Marches"
The last name "Rich" becomes "The Riches"

The last name "Fox" becomes "The Foxes"
The last name "Cox" becomes "The Coxes"

** Since the proper way to pluralize a last name may look odd to you if you're not used to seeing it, especially if your last name ends in "s", "z", "sh", "ch", or "x," we recommend that you go with something like "The Schultz Family" or just "Schultz" on your sign if you still want it to be grammatically correct.

For names ending in "y", just add "s":

The last name "Murphy" becomes "The Murphys"
The last name "Kennedy" becomes "The Kennedys"
The last name "Gray" becomes "The Grays"
The last name "Willoughby" becomes "The Willoughbys"
The last name "Henry" becomes "The Henrys"

For names ending in "f", just add "s":

The last name "Wolf" becomes "The Wolfs"

For names ending in "o", just add "s":

The last name "Delfino" becomes "The Delfinos"

For names ending in an UNPRONOUNCED "s" or "x", leave it unchanged:

The last name "Dumas" (du-ma) becomes "The Dumas" (du-mas)
The last name "Bardeaux" (bar-do) becomes "The Bardeaux" (bar-dos)

3.) If it's a name that refers to MULTIPLE people, as a collective unit or family, like a LAST NAME, AND WITH reference to OWNERSHIP/something belonging to that family, whether obvious or implied, then you would pluralize the name, as above, and add an apostrophe to the end (s'), like so***:

The Smiths' Getaway
The Lees' House
The Jameses' Place
The Schultzes' Castle
The Churches' Cabin
The Foxes' Cottage
Welcome to the Grays'
Welcome to the Wilsons'

In the last two examples, the ownership is implied but ultimately left out. You could also say "Welcome to the Grays' Estate" or "Welcome to the Wilsons' Lodge" if you prefer. It's similar to saying "I'm going over to the Wilsons' for dinner." The sentence implies that you are going over to the Wilsons' house to eat dinner.

*** If you don't like how this looks but still want to be grammatically correct, you can eliminate the plurals and possessives and just name your place something like "Schultz Castle" or "The Fox Cottage".

3. Can you put my pet on a custom sign?

Yes, we can. When you order your sign, let us know you'd like to have custom pet art. You then need to send us at least one (preferably multiple) high-quality picture(s) of your pet through e-mail. If you send multiple pictures we would either select the best one or allow you to choose if there is more than one that would work.

4. What colors can you paint the letters?

We paint all of our letters black unless otherwise specified. Black is the most readable of any of the colors we can use, least likely to fade, and it just looks the best in contrast with the cedar woodgrain. We will paint the letters other color(s) if requested, but we recommend that you use darker colors (like navy blue or hunter green) if you choose to do so.

5. Can I pick my own font?

Yes, you can go to the Fonts page to see some of the lettering styles we offer. If you'd like a custom font, please contact us!

6. What if I want a custom image, font, or board size?

We are up for the challenge! If you want something custom, please contact us or see us at an event.

7. What if I'm not sure what I want my sign to look like?

Browse through the samples pages to get ideas for what kind of sign you'd like to order. You can e-mail us once you have some general ideas, and, for a $15 non-refundable fee, we will layout some digital proofs for you to choose from and work with you from there. The non-refundable fee will be applied to the purchase price of the sign you ultimately decide to order.

8. Will I be able to see what my sign will look like before you make it?

Yes, we will layout your sign and e-mail you a scaled-down proof showing you what your sign will look like*. If you want anything changed from there, we'll send you updated proofs until you approve the design. After you are happy with how it will look, we will then create your sign and ship it out as soon as we possibly can.

* We cannot control wood grain, color, or knots. Every board is different. You can ask for a lighter/darker board or a board with fewer/more knots, but we cannot guarantee that we will have what you request.

9. How and when do I pay for my sign order?

Since all of our signs are custom-made, you will have to pre-pay before we make your sign.

If you would rather pick up your sign at one of our upcoming events, you will only be required to pay a deposit and the shipping fee will be waived. You would then pay the remaining balance when you collect your sign. If this is an option that you'd like to pursue, please let us know before finalizing your order.

Shipping

1. How do I get my completed sign?

All signs ordered through e-mail are shipped unless requested otherwise. Shipping is an additional charge; the exact cost depends on distance but is usually between $7-$10 if it's shipped around southeastern Wisconsin.

If you would like to pick up your sign locally (we are located in Sturtevant, WI) or at one of our future events, you may do so. In that case, you should let us know before we finalize your order.

2. How do you ship your signs?

All signs are sent USPS Priority Mail. On rare occasions, we may ship using another method, such as UPS or Parcel Post.

We make a custom "box" for each sign we ship out to ensure that it arrives to you in the condition we sent it.

3. How long does it take to get my sign?

Usually it will take between 7-14 business days to get your sign after you have approved the layout. However, the exact amount of time depends on a number of factors. If you are timely in responding to our e-mails, it should only take a few days at most to approve your layout. After that, the time it takes to complete your order depends on the complexity of your sign, our current workload (we complete our orders on a first come, first served basis), time of year (signs take longer during the holidays, so get your orders in early), our show schedule (if we are at an event away from home, signs may take up to a month to complete after the event is over due to the sheer volume of orders we take), and the distance the sign is being shipped.

4. Can you rush my sign order?

We complete our orders on a first come, first served basis. If you absolutely need your sign by a certain date, please contact us before ordering. You may have to pay an additional fee and/or higher shipping (depending how soon you need it and how many signs we have ahead of you).

5. Do you ship outside the USA?

Yes, we can, but be prepared to pay higher rates. Insurance will be mandatory and waiting times will increase. You might be better off looking somewhere closer to you instead.

Miscellaneous

1. Do you accept returns?

Due to the nature of our product, we cannot accept returns or offer refunds. We will send you a proof once you place your order, and your job is to make sure that all of the spellings and dates are correct. Delivery confirmations will be tracked and saved. If there is an exceptional, unforeseen problem, we will attempt to work it out on a case by case basis. If we make an error on our part, we will replace the item at our expense.

2. How do I hang my sign? Do you include any hardware/accessories?

We do not include any hardware/accessories unless you purchase them. There are only two exceptions:

1) If you order a main sign with at least one small add-on sign, we will attach the signs together with eye-hooks and chain for no additional charge.

2) If you purchase an add-on sign for a main sign that we made for you in the past (we keep records), we will include four eye-hooks and two small links of chain for no additional charge. You would have to request this option and let us know which sign you had ordered in the past.

We offer two different, low-priced options to hang your sign: 1) eye-hooks with chain ($3.00), or 2) keyhole slots ($2.00 per slot).

Another option is to simply screw your sign directly to a tree, building, post, or fence. We'd prefer that you poke holes in the places that you need them. There are too many options for us to do this for you. Whoever does your handyman work should tackle this with no problem.

3. Will my sign come treated or finished with something? How do I care for my sign?

After your sign is complete, we apply a layer of Thompson’s Wood Protector* at no additional cost. We highly recommend that you re-apply this at least once a year (twice if your sign will be in direct sunlight). You can safely brush it over any artwork without affecting your sign. This finish helps protect your sign from the elements and prevents it from graying.

If you would like to apply a different type of finish yourself, please request that your sign remain “unfinished.” The application of another type of finish on top of the Thompson’s Water Seal may ruin your sign.

We cannot predict the outcome if you apply any other type of finish. For the best results, you should use some kind of treatment with UV inhibitors, especially if your sign is going to be outside. We do not recommend any transparent, hard shell finishes (lacquer, shellac, urethane, polyurethane, or varnish) unless your wood sign will be strictly indoors, away from sunlight, and in a temperature-controlled environment. Changes in humidity levels can cause your sign to expand and contract, cracking the hard shell finish.

*UPDATE: We no longer use Thompson's Water Seal as of 2014 since the formula has been changed. We now recommend using teak oil or a similar finish.

4. I never re-finished my sign and now it has turned gray! What should I do?

You should probably take your sign to an experienced sign maker and see what they recommend. If you bring it to us, we may be able to make your sign look like new for $10-15+ dollars (depending if it has any artwork or not). If there is very detailed artwork, it might just be best to order a brand new sign.

If you don't have any artwork on it, you can fix it yourself by sanding off the top gray layer with a belt sander. Afterwards, just re-apply the sealer. (And this time, make sure to always do so once or twice a year!)