Updated: Jul 17, 2020
I have been lettering on wood for many years now, but I have also been the QUEEN of trial and error...emphasis on the error. If you are a fellow wood crafter/letterer, I would love to save you the time, money and heartache when it comes to making your finished product, well, look like a finished product. A magic spray DOES exist to make your product SHINE. The benefits of a polyurethane spray: it adds a layer of protection to your wood, brings out the richness of the stain, brightens the white lettering, and best of all, covers up any signs of chalk used to draft your design.
You can see in the process pictures above how the stain gets a bit darker and the chalk disappears. It really is like magic! When you spray the polyurethane, make sure you are in an open area with air flow because the smell is strong. I usually go in rows from top to bottom, occasionally giving a second coat to the section of lettering and I let it dry for a minimum of 24 hours before shipping/delivering the piece.
I personally use the Varathane brand from Home Depot, but there are a lot of options to choose from. I prefer the oil based option compared to water based and I like the semi-gloss finish to give it a little bit of a shine.
This finish has been a lifesaver to me, especially when I started using chalk to draft out my designs before I start with my paint pen. I hope this might help some of my fellow people and I would love to hear what works for you! :)