The sign from the movie.
To make my sign I picked up a piece of plywood at Michael's that was about the dimensions I wanted, no cutting required. I had Steve drill holes for hanging it before I started painting, good thing since it tore the wood a bit. I painted the whole sign with house primer. It bowed the wood on the first coat but it bowed back in place when I painted the back. Over the primer I used acrylic craft paint for the entire thing. Because it is a thin paint it required several coats for each of the steps but I was able to get a fairly smooth finish that way.
Then I found a bowl that was about the size of circle I wanted and penciled it in place. I painted the circle white. Then I hand lettered the 9 3/4 with pencil on top of the dry white circle. I then painted that with black acrylic craft paint.
Next I used a yardstick and pencil to mark where my gold frame would be.
I painted the entire sign red up to the circle and the lines for the gold frame as well as the back of the sign.
After the red was dry I painted the gold frame.
The lettering was tricky. I knew I wouldn't get the spacing right if I did it by hand so I typed the words Hogwarts Express in Microsoft Word using Perpetua Titling MT font 180pt and formatted it as an outline. I then printed onto paper on landscape mode. I did a chalk line with the yardstick where I wanted the bottom of my lettered. Then I taped the lettering where I wanted it onto the sign. Then traced the outline firmly with ballpoint pen, elongating the R's to look more like the font from the movie. That left enough of a mark that I could then trace over with a Sharpie. Then I painted inside the lettering with a super fine brush and the gold acrylic craft paint.
I painted the black circle around the white circle freehand as there really is no other way.
When it was all dry I painted the entire sign with several coats of Varathane Waterbased Diamond Wood Floor Finish because I knew the sign would hang outside and it could rain.
I had some black curtain rings that I used to hang the sign with and purchase 1 1/2ft of black chain from Lowe's that I attached to those. This allowed me to hang the sign simply over a hook. Much simpler than the wall mount used in the move sign.
My sign being painted.
The finished sign.
*Edited 8/20/10 to say that for a period of time Warner Brothers had 9 3/4 signs for sale. If you can find one for sale, on E-bay maybe, save yourself the time and just buy one.