3 Must Have Tools Photo

3 Must-Have Signage Lettering Tools

Mabz (of @chalkedbymabz) came back to help me with this post! We do tons of signage stuff together – murals, big storefront windows, that kind of thing.

We recently did a video (and post) all about what’s in our toolkits, which you can find here. After that, we started talking this situation:

Let’s say you’re going somewhere and somebody says “there’s the possibility that I’d like you to do signage for us.” What are the three and only three items that you would bring?

You don’t know what the surface is, and you don’t get to ask questions. They just say there’s a possibility for signage, and you’re walking out the door to meet them with no prep time. You can only grab three. It’s kind of like the desert island thing. If you’re going to a desert island, like, what are your top three items?

First Things First…

The links below may be affiliate links where appropriate. This means that your purchase through these links may result in a few cents in payment to me, to support creating further resources like this one! That being said, I will never suggest supplies that I do not personally use and fully recommend.

Rather watch than read? No problem! You can watch us “debate” our three must-have tools in real-time by clicking the video below!

Let’s Get Started!

We each grabbed a tote bag, put our three things in our bags, and compared them in real time like show and tell. We didn’t know what the other would grab, so it was fun! 

Mabz said she had been thinking about it a lot and had two for sure. The third would be a game time decision. I was pretty confident in mine from the get-go. Any guesses on what they are?

If you want all the commentary and humor from this, I definitely recommend watching the full video. For this post, I’m going to keep it to the main info. 🙂

I knew for sure what one match would be…

#1: Stabilo-All Pencil

This pencil will work on paper, glass, plastic, metal – basically anything. It’s the perfect tool for making guidelines on signage. (A sharpener would be great to have too, but you’re on the island and can’t grab more than three supplies. LOL)

#2: Oil-Based Sharpie Paint Pen

I reeeeeally didn’t know if we’d both choose water or oil (I went back and forth myself on which to choose). 

Oil-based works on a lot of surfaces (so does water-based). But oil-based stays longer. I went back and forth because the client might not want the lettering to be super permanent. Like a chalkboard – water-based would be better for a chalkboard because you could more easily take it off. Overall though, if you’re doing an impromptu sign for someone, normally they’d want it to be more permanent. I think more people want more permanent than less permanent. And just because we say more permanent doesn’t mean it’s fully permanent. You can take it off. But if I could only pick one, I would pick oil over water. Clearly Mabz would too. 

And number 3….

Mabz’s #3: Water-Based Sharpie Paint Pen

I seriously didn’t even think of bringing both, but it’s a great idea (see permanency thoughts above). It’s a great idea though. 

Becca’s #3: Rubbing Alcohol/Acetone

This removes oil paint pens. I grabbed this not for mistakes but if they want to remove it. But honestly, that’s not my problem. That’s their problem.

Mabz says she wins this one for her cleverness. She wasn’t sure if grabbing both an Oil-based and a Water-based Sharpie Paint Pen would count as one item or two, but she didn’t want to ask and give it away that she was choosing those. 

For my third tool, I also debated a straight edge – like a ruler or a level, but then I thought you could use a lot of things as a ruler. You could also just draw a line and see if it’s straight enough. 

And That’s A Wrap!

Okay – so who do you think had the better choices? Mabz or me (Becca)? 

The real debt debate… I chose one item for writing, one item for guidelines, and one item for removal. Whereas Mabz would never use all three of her items for one project. She gave herself options; I gave myself a toolkit for a full project.

So who wins? 

We also have a full post and video going over our entire toolkit, which you can check out here. There’s a PDF downloadable freebie that we’ve made called the Ultimate Signage Toolbox. It’s got pictures of everything, descriptions of how we use them, and why they’re in the toolbox. So if you want the full toolkit (not just our three must-haves), go check that out here.

And finally, your dad joke…

Someone stole all my tools, including my limbo stick.
Seriously..how low can you go ?


  1. I literally laughed out loud at your banter back and forth… you’re both so fun!
    As for who won , having never done any projects involving Modern Calligraphy ( newby here) , I’d have to say Mabz won with her choices.
    As you were off screen I thought one of the items would be a ruler and guessed in my head a sharpie marker but that’s not practical for any /all projects.
    Thanks for a fun video🥰

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