- 3 years ago
- Wedding: April 2014
Hello everyone! This is my first post on Weddingbee but I have been a frequent visitor to the boards for the past year or so of my engagement. I wanted to share a project my fiance and I did- we made our own wood and metal marquee letters!
They’re about 2 feet tall and VERY sturdy. And they were a labor of love, believe me! But totally worth it! We went into extra detail on our blog but I’d like to cover the basic steps here too 🙂
It all started because we saw these cool marquee letters at a wedding expo when we first got engaged.
But I knew they’d be wayyyyy to expensive, I even saw the same letters being sold by a bride AFTER her wedding for $699 (can’t imagine what they cost new)! We didn’t have that in the budget, but what we DID have was a graphic designer (me) and a design engineer (future hubs) so we decided we would tackle this project on our own and save some big moolah!
So after I awkwardly posed with the letters for scale, we were ready to go!
First off, we picked up a couple sheets of pre-sanded plywood from Home Depot. Then we found a font we liked and printed it big enough to fit on the wood.
Then we used our printed letters as a template we could trace onto the plywood.
You can read more details about choosing the right font and creating a template here.
Then we traced out our letters onto the wood and busted out our jig saw to cut them.
This was pretty easy except for a few spots, like in between the three “legs” of the E. We also used the template to mark where we needed to drill holes for the lightbulbs. We just tapped a nail through each circle (representing each light bulb) on our template and then drilled through. We had already bought the lights (these from target!), so we knew what diameter the holes needed to be.
You can read more about sawing out the letters and light holes here.
Next was the easiest part, staining the letters. You could stain (or paint!) them any color you want.
We chose the “Dark Walnut” stain by minwax. Just follow the directions: clean your surface, wipe on the stain, wipe off excess stain.
You can read more about this part of the project here.
Here’s where the project gets a little tricky. We had to attach metal siding around our wooden letters. We bought a few rolls of 6-inch aluminum flashing from Home Depot.
Each letter presented new challenges, but basically for each we rolled out the metal flashing, placed the letter on its side on top of the flashing, and bent the metal at each corner of the letter.
The best way we found to bend the metal and have a nice clean corner was to use a wide putty knife and a hammer (or mallet). See picture below.
You’ll notice in the photo above we have a few bends in the metal already. Once you make your first bend, you’ll need to measure along your letter to find out where on the metal roll to make the next bend. So for the L, we did it like this:
Once all the corners were made, we could wrap it around the letter and nail it in place.
You have to be careful when you attach the metal to the wood that the wood stays centered. To make this part easier, on the inside of the metal we would mark out the center 1/2-inch of it (because our wood was 1/2-inch thick) and on the outside of the metal we marked a dot for every nail we wanted to hammer in (so that they were evenly spaced).
It really helps to have two people working at once, so one person can hold your letter together and keep it centered while the other hammers.
The O, V, and E each had thei own set of challenges to overcome (curved sides are hard, tight angles are hard, etc). We went into lots of detail for how to tackle each letter here.
But after much measuring, hammering, cutting, hammering, gluing, and hammering, we got all the metal attached!
So close to the finish line! Next we inserted our lights from the back in a way that made sense with the flow of the letters.
To avoid wasting lights, we came up with a system. Where we knew we’d need to backtrack, we skipped every other light hole so we could fill in the skipped ones on the way back down, like in the picture above. Hopefully this graphic makes it less confusing instead of more confusing, but don’t worry, it will make sense when you just start diong it.
And voila!!! Plug em in and you’re done!!!!
Here’s a close up picture so you can see how snugly everything fits together.
We really LOVE how they turned out!!! It was a lot of work, but they ended up only costing about $85 in materials so it was well worth it for the savings! Plus it was a really fun project to work on with my fiance, and now we have these AWESOME letters to use for our wedding and to keep in our house forever 🙂
For more details about attaching the metal to the letters, adding the lights, and our budget breakdown you can click here. Hope this tutorial helps, and let me know if you have any questions about our process!