I just finished making a family name sign for my sister-in-law. Here is the finalized project:
I purchased a piece of unfinished wood at Home Depot. Had them cut the piece to 40". I brought it home and sanded it with my handy-dandy hand sander, a coat of paint (Behr Black Suede (S-H-790), one more sand and then I was ready for the stencils. I used a stencil set I purchased at Michaels (the letters were 3-3.5" depending on the letter). I stenciled the letters on with a pencil and then painted them in with a very small brush and white acrylic paint. I waited a day for the paint to be completely dry and then I stained the entire board with a gel stain (miniwax in walnut). I painted it on with a foam brush, waited around 5-10 minutes and gently rubbed the stain off.
Last but not least, I purchased sawtooth hangers to attach to the back of the board for hanging. This is a great personalized gift and I can't wait to give it to her soon!