I bought a new jigsaw recently. I was using one my brother left at my house over the last few years, but he took it away. I also went all out and got a nail gun for my birthday (a gift from my brother)....and I currently still have his hand sander. All that to say, I've been playing around with some wooden signs for the fall.
Before I paint any sign, I've learned that a coating of exterior white house paint going on first (front and back) really helps the sign be weather proof, and additional paint layers go on thick the first time.
I always end my project with a layer of polycrylic paint (from Walmart) to add additional weather proofing. The stakes I grab at the hardware store for just a few bucks...and everything is better with a raffia bow.