Makin’ Loooooove… COMPLETE! {DIY Marquee Letters}

***UPDATE***

We finally got to use these at our wedding!! We ADORE how they turned out! It was 100% worth the time and effort.

DIY Marquee Letters - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Marquee Letters - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Marquee Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

***END UPDATE***

Oh. My. Gosh. We FINALLY finished this project!! Read through to see how we did it, and scroll to the bottom to see the updated budget breakdown and materials list.

If you need to get caught up on the DIY Marquee Letter saga, check out part 1, part 2, and part 3. Here’s how it started: before we even bought our house, we went to a wedding expo and spotted these marquee letters. We instantly fell in L.O.V.E. with them and had to figure out how to make our own!

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

So we made a template (psst- download it here), cut it out of plywood, stained it, and then we derped around for a few months doing all sorts of house things instead of completing this project.

Finally, we decided it was time give the people what they wanted finish ‘er up. And that meant doing the hardest part: adding the metal flashing to the sides. We bought four rolls of 6-inch aluminum flashing because we wanted our letters to have metal siding (there are some tutorials online using poster board for the sides but we wanted something a little more sturdy). We couldn’t find any tutorials for making wood and metal letters so we decided to wing it.

(Before we get into all the pictures, a quick side note: we worked on this project on and off over several months so don’t be surprised if our outfits, location, time of day, and Evan’s haircut-necessity-level change from picture to picture.)

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We started with the L because it was the easiest and because we are just OCD enough that the thought of doing the letters out of order bothered us. The first step when adding the flashing is to unroll your metal and sit the letter on it.

Choose where you want the start and the end of your metal to meet (for the L, we chose the bottom of it), then make your first bend in the metal. We used the help of a putty knife and a hammer to make our bends.

Draw a line on the metal where you want your bend to be, place the sharp end of a putty knife (or similar object) on that line, and hammer the handle of the putty knife so that the sharp end is pounded into the metal. This works best if you’re working on carpet or a rug instead of a hard table top or hard flooring. You need some give underneath the metal to allow the putty knife to push into it.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

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:

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We started the edge of the metal where it says “Start” above and measured how far that point was to the lower right hand corner of the L (where “A” meets “B”). On the metal, we measured that same length from the edge and made a 90 degree bend using the putty knife and hammer technique. We did that all around the L. The angle marks above our rainbow-esque metal flashing in the guide above indicate what direction the angle is bent at.

It’s pretty easy to do this for each letter as you go, but if you chose a complex looking font it could get tricky. Therefore, we highly recommend a sans-serif font!

For some letters, like the L, it was pretty easy for just one person to do the measurements and bends.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

But other letters were two-person jobs, like the E. I never thought about how many angles a capital E has until we had to bend sharp metal around every one of them! For the E, I needed to hold the flashing up while Evan measured and bent so that it didn’t fall onto itself. And sorry about the PJ’s. Although it took us months to finish this project, extra time could not be spared to get properly dressed.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

Once you have all your angles made, you’ll see the shape of the letter start to form and you can wrap the metal around your letter! Ahhhh!! Exciting!! Just don’t forget to cut off the extra metal (see it to the left of the L in the image below) with some sturdy clippers. We liked to leave a couple inches of overlap when we cut it.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We did not take a picture of the O at this stage of completion because it required a slightly different method. Since the metal did not have any bends or corners to hang onto, it wouldn’t stay put. So I had to pretty much wrap myself around the letter while Evan hammered nails in to anchor it. This is actually the only picture we have of this stage of the O because it was all hands on deck for this one.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

Which brings us to our next step: attaching the metal.

First we made guide lines on the metal so that we could center it against the edge of our plywood. Since our plywood was 1/2-inch thick and our metal flashing was 6-inches wide, we marked dots that were 2-3/4 inches from each side (so that there was a 1/2-inch space between them going down the center of the metal).

Then we connected our dots and used those as our guide. These marks were made on the side of the metal that would be attached to the wood.

In hindsight, it would have been easier to do this before bending the metal. Oh hindsight!

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

On the other side of the metal (the side facing outside), we marked dots along the center of the metal (3 inches from the edge) so that we knew where to nail. We made a dot every inch or so, but you could do more or less if you wanted.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

Since we had our plywood and nail guides, we wrapped the metal around the letters, aligning the plywood with our 1/2 inch space on the inside of the metal. Evan hammered in a nail or two while I held it in place to keep it from shifting.

We used short 1/2-inch finishing nails to do the job. We started out originally using longer nails, but a few times we didn’t hammer them in straight enough and their ends poked through the wood (ooops!). When that happens it’s kind of a pain to carefully pull them out without causing more damage.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

But the 1/2-inch nails were harder to hammer because holding such a tiny nail was difficult. So we used our longer nails to hammer little pilot holes through the metal and just barely into the wood, and then hammered our shorter nails into the pilot holes. It was WAY easier. Also, we still (carefully) used the longer nails at the corners because we felt like that they might be a better anchor.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

So after Evan hammered in a couple nails to keep the metal from shifting, together we’d go down each side of the letter and create pilot holes, and then add our 1/2-inch nails. Lots and lots of nails.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

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The V and the E needed a little extra help because there were areas in each that we couldn’t nail due to lack of space for the hammer. On the V, we couldn’t get the hammer passed a certain point in the “dip” of the V. So we decided to nail as far as we could and then use epoxy.

That didn’t work too well because it was hard to hold the metal against the wood long enough for it to set. We didn’t have a big clamp, so we tried to wedge enough random tools in there to hold the metal down in place. I’ll pause while you laugh.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

Yeah. That didn’t work. So we went to Home Depot, got some Gorilla Glue, and picked up a big clamp. And then taped the crap out of the whole thing because we really really didn’t want another glue fail.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

The Gorilla Glue worked! But it squished out the sides (womp womp) and we had to cut the excess off with a razor blade, which was annoying. When we did the other side of the V, we made sure to apply as little glue as possible so that we didn’t have the same problem again.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

Even though the Gorilla Glue worked, there were a lot of places on the E that we couldn’t use nails and we didn’t want to deal with all the gluing and clamping again.

So for the parts of the metal that went in between the “legs” of the E, we bent them so that the sides were curving toward the wood of the E (like the colored pieces in the image below) and then hammered a few nails in between each bent piece of metal to hold things in place (along with nails around the perimeter of the letter too of course). Since the curved metal naturally wanted to press against the wood, we didn’t need any glue there.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

After the metal was firmly attached to all our letters, it was time to screw in our lights! We used two packs of these outdoor lights from Target. Depending on the size of your letters and the closeness of the holes you drilled, you may need more or less.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We had to screw in the lights in a way that made sense with the flow of the letters. Meaning for the L, we started at the bottom (so that we didn’t have to have a cord running from the floor to the top of a letter) and we added lights going toward the top. But we skipped every other light so that when we reached the top of the L we could make our way back to the bottom, filling in the lights we had skipped on the way up.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

On the O, we went straight across from the L to the base of the O and looped around clockwise until we got to the part of the O that was closest to the top of the V, filling in every light up to that point. Then as we continued the O (past the point closest to the top of the V) we just filled in every other light again until we reached out O starting point, where we then backtracked and filled in the holes we missed. Similar to the method on the L.

Basically, any time you know you’re going to have to backtrack, start skipping every other hole so that when you make your way back you have holes to fill in.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We wired the lights this way because we didn’t want to have long stretches (like from the outlet to the top of the L or the base of the O to the top of the V) where there were lights that weren’t being used. Because that meant wasted lights, and we really didn’t want to buy a third pack. Hope the graphic above helps make sense of it! If not, it will make more sense when you get to this point and start playing with it.

I am happy to say, after much measuring, hammering, cutting, hammering, gluing, and hammering… we are FINALLY done!

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

So of course we had to take a million pictures…

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We love the look of the metal and wood. On this zoomed in picture of the O you can really see how snugly everything fits together.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We L.O.V.E. them sooooooooo much! Can’t wait to have these at our wedding, and we are super excited that they’ll have a spot in our home for us to enjoy forever :)

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

Finally, here’s the budget breakdown. This is all rounded, but it’s pretty accurate:

(2) 2ft x 4ft pieces of pre-sanded plywood – $30
(4) rolls of 6 inch metal (similar to this but longer and therefore pricier) – $24
(1) 8-oz can of Minwax stain in Dark Walnut – $5
(2) packs of clear globe lights from Target – $26
Nails, hammers, clamps, saw, brushes, etc – already owned/needed to have anyway

TOTAL = $85

Not bad for four very sturdy 2-ft tall letters that we love!

PS- Check out part 1: making the templatepart 2: cutting out the letters, and part 3: staining the wood, for the full tutorial of this project! :D

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42 Responses to “Makin’ Loooooove… COMPLETE! {DIY Marquee Letters}”

  1. Kal August 12, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    Glorious. Ok, if you could make me some of those- that’d be great. ;)

  2. Katelyn Shibley August 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    Thanks! Haha maybe we should open up an Etsy shop and start selling em ;P

  3. Yvonne @ Sunnyside Up-Stairs August 12, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    This was fantastic! I L.O.V.E this project, your diagrams, the photos! What a lot of brain work involved, but it’s totally worth it. :)

  4. Katelyn Shibley August 12, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    Thank you!! I hope we included enough photos and diagrams to help others make their own!

  5. Bryan August 17, 2013 at 6:15 am #

    That is one helluva write up! I’ve been looking for a decent how-to on this for ages – this is perfect! We are getting married next year and hoping to do something similar. Thank you so much for putting all the effort into not only making these letters but creating a fantastic guide! I’m so inspired!

  6. Katelyn Shibley August 17, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    Aw thank you Bryan! We had the hardest time finding a good tutorial too which is why in the end we came up with all this. Congrats on your wedding next year and hope the letters turn out awesome! If you end up making them, come back and comment or send a link our way so we can check em out! :D

  7. Maria August 21, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    I’m coming over from YHL (whenever I see a fellow Texan, I look ‘em up!). I would love to buy letters like these, you guys should definitely start something like that! BTW, I’m in Houston too!

  8. Katelyn Shibley August 21, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Hello fellow Texan!! Maybe when we have some time after the wedding we could seriously start offering these!

  9. Our Wolf Den August 21, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    Very nice. I don’t think I’d have the patience to do that project. Those make perfect engagement photo props in fact the one of you two kissing in front of it is perfect. Although my favorite is the one with you your bottoms halves and the kitty. Kitty just don’t understand what their people are doing sometimes… silly people *smiles*.

    I was getting ready to hit post when I had a great idea to recreate this with our last name. And then the thought went to creating this with my parent’s last initial with copper flashing. Although I think big WOLF letters would look awesome over the fireplace… gaaa so many ideas too little time.

  10. Katelyn Shibley August 21, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Thanks! It did require a lot of patience haha. Took us quite a while to finally complete it, but it was worth it! Hehe and yes I think our kitty is often a little confused about why were are paying attention to some project when we *should* be paying attention to her :P

    I think you should totally go for it and make one for your last name! To make it less intimidating, you could always just do a big “W” for Wolf and hang that. And if down the line you have the time/patience to do 3 more letters, you can :)

  11. Katelyn Shibley August 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    Oh snap and it would look AWESOME with copper flashing!

  12. Catherine October 29, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Love this tutorial – just a question, how did you put them up? or are they meant to just stand on a shelf etc?

  13. Katelyn Shibley October 29, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    Thanks!! Ours are just sitting on a shelf ledge right now on our media center, but I think if you wanted to hang it on a wall you could attach it to a couple boards and then screw those into studs on the wall, or create a floating shelf that is screwed into the studs. The letters are relatively heavy so I wouldn’t trust anything screwed into drywall

  14. Alice January 21, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    Hi, I love this tutorial! Thank you so much. I want to make one of these and just wondering how you fixed the metal to the inside circle of the letter o?! I can’t imagine the hammer fit in there!
    Thanks
    Alice

    • Katelyn Shibley January 21, 2014 at 9:46 am #

      Hi Alice! We actually did use a hammer to pound in some nails just like we did around the outside, but we used a mini hammer (aka cutest hammer ever!) like this: http://tinyurl.com/kz9uasp

      It was pretty tricky though because I had to hold the metal and letters in place and try to keep it centered while Evan hammered. It might help to do a few “anchor nails” at 4 or so points to help hold it in place, and then hammer in the rest of the nails.

      Hope this helps!

  15. Zady January 21, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

    Hi! I love this idea for my wedding. Only I have confusion in wooden letters. As I can make the word LOVE or what are the steps to print on large format letters. thank you very much.

  16. Courtney February 4, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    I am not sure how to make the letters as you did for the templete. Is there any way you could attach the templete you made for the letters for those of us that do not know how?

  17. Kali February 5, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    Hi Katelyn! First, this is the best tutorial I have seen! Thanks so much for posting! I was wondering if you could tell me the name of the font you used. I plan to use your method but with different letters and I LOVE your font :) Please let me know. Thanks much!!

    • Katelyn Shibley February 5, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

      Aww thank you!!! The name of our font is Budmo, here’s a link to it: http://www.dafont.com/budmo.font

      It even has little dots to mark where your lights will go so it’s perfect!

  18. angieras April 13, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    just watched your video, so amazing and realized it is the eve of your marriage, so congrats!!!

    • Katelyn Shibley April 28, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

      Aww thank you and thank you! :)

  19. sara April 28, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    I know that you are being asked this a few time, but I am still confused as to how you get the letters printed based on the link that you’ve provided, can you clarify, absolutely loving your DIY and playing on getting started on it this weekend as it a long weekend :-)

    • Katelyn Shibley April 29, 2014 at 7:09 am #

      Hey! So there are a couple ways to do it. When we did the project, we used a Windows computer which gives you the option to tile your print. You just mess with the settings in the “Page Setup.” Here are some more detailed instructions:

      http://scottiestech.info/2009/08/08/how-to-easily-print-a-large-image-to-multiple-pages-in-windows/

      The other way is to use rasterbator.net, which is a site that will print large scale images as multiple dots. It asks you to upload an image, set how many sheets you want it to be, and adjust the frequency of the dot grid (how tight or far apart the dots are). When you print your image, you kind of have to connect the dots (literally) to get your solid outline, but it works in a pinch if you don’t have a Windows

      Hope this helps!

  20. Abigail Gehman June 4, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    Thank you for the great tutorial! My fiance and are have just begun making these, and we are hoping they turn out as great as yours did! For the pictures from your wedding, did you re-stain them, or is it just the lighting that makes it look pink?
    Thanks!

    • Katelyn Shibley June 4, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

      Thank you! You’ll have to let us know how yours turn out! We did not re-stain them, it is just how the lighting in the photo makes them look :)

  21. Haley June 4, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    How did you transport the letters? Was it hard to carry since they are connected together with the strands of lights?

    • Katelyn Shibley June 4, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

      It wasn’t too hard because we used 2 strings of lights, so we had to keep the L and the O together and we had to keep the V and the E together, but we didn’t have to transport all 4 connected together. We transported them all the way from Houston to Austin in the back of a U-Haul full of all the other wedding stuff, nestled on the flat top of the pile of boxes with some blankets under them for added cush

  22. LJ June 5, 2014 at 12:19 am #

    Your wedding pics turned out beautifully!!

    We’re halfway through following the tutorial and I’m wondering if I missed this- did you use any type of sealant over the stain? We’re ready to add the metal and I don’t want to miss this step if it’s necessary!

    Thanks!

    • Katelyn Shibley June 5, 2014 at 7:10 am #

      Thank you! We didn’t use any type of sealant since we knew (aside from the wedding day) they’d be used indoors and didn’t need protection, and we wanted more of a matte finish. But if you want to use yours outside or you want a glossier finish (which could be super pretty and reflect the lights nicely) then I’d definitely do it before adding the metal!

      • LJ June 5, 2014 at 11:47 am #

        Thanks!

  23. Emily Vanmaele July 30, 2014 at 1:53 am #

    I had a question about the lights and how they are “sitting” into the holes. Are the glass bulbs touching the wood at all? I figured they would be for them to be able to stay in place, if so that is definitely a fire hazard and I don’t want the whole barn to burn down due to my “LOVE” sign. Did you place any metal backing material near the bulb area to combat this? My parents and I have been studying your tutorial as we started to construct ours and we came across those questions. We are just a bit concerned with how exactly we are going to attach the lights.

    • Katelyn Shibley July 30, 2014 at 6:31 am #

      Hi Emily! Actually yes, the glass bulbs are just sitting snugly in the holes with no backing or anything, so the glass is touching the wood. The longest we have had the lights on was at the wedding at that was at least 10 hours, and nothing burned down. But we usually have them on at home for a couple hours at a time. Like I said, we haven’t had any problems, but if you want to play it safe you could always go for LED bulbs or try some sort of backing. Hope this helps!

  24. Mimi August 17, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Amazing work!! My fiance and I wanted to rent these and the rental price is hella ridiculous. We are about to make our own – thanks to you and your hubs!!!

    • Katelyn Shibley August 18, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

      Rental companies charge an arm and a leg for everything! So glad we were able to help y’all out with our tutorial! ^_^

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