Archive | Woodworking

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post

A while back we built a horizontal cat scratching post/pad and shared it on the blog. Mochi did use it, but the downside is she still clawed our couch too. Womp.

So we built a modern vertical cat scratching post that slides over the arm of our couch, hoping that giving her something vertical to pull on will spare our couch from further damage. And so far, she’s using it!!! Yay!!! Bonus, this thing also acts as a wooden couch sleeve to set your drink on. Double yay!!

Of course, we documented the whole build on video so if you’d like to see the action in video form check it out!

[Before we keep going, I want to pause and say if you have a second it would mean SO much to us if you’d like our video or subscribe to our channel. Since we’re brand new to YouTube, every view, like, and subscription makes a huge difference for us. Click here to see the whole channel. Thank youuuuu! We’re doing a big goofy happy dance right now!]

Tools & materials

Before I get into this build, I’ll preface it by saying we used a lot of tools on this simply because we had them at the ready, but you don’t need everything we used. So I’m gonna put the must-have tools at the top of the list, and additional stuff we used below.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com Must-have tools/materials

Additional tools/materials we used (helpful, but not 100% necessary)

Step 1: Measure & cut the 2 vertical pieces

This scratching post is made of three pieces. To start, we’re going to find the measurements we need for our two vertical pieces (numbers 1 and 2 below). All the measurements for this build will depend on your couch.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com Because couch arms can be rounded, grab a scrap piece of wood, or anything flat really, and place it across the top of the couch arm, making sure it’s level. Then measure the distance between the floor and the underside of the scrap piece.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

This measurement is going to be the length of your longer vertical wood piece that goes on the outside of your couch arm.

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Next, slide the yardstick between the arm of your couch and the cushion until it hits the base of your couch under the cushion.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

This measurement is going to be the length of your shorter vertical wood piece that goes on the inside of your couch arm.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

We used these two measurements to cut two pieces from our 10×1 on the miter saw. You could definitely use a circular saw instead though, or heck even a jig saw or hand saw.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

On the shorter piece, we also added a slight taper by cutting an angle on our miter saw so that it would slide between the cushions more easily. It’s optional, but it does help.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

Step 2: Pocket holes

Next we drilled pocket holes. If you don’t have a kreg jig don’t worry, you can just screw perpendicularly through the boards with wood screws later to attach them (don’t do it til after you’ve attached your sisal though. We’ll cover that part later). If you want to try the kreg jig but aren’t sure how to use it, here is a great tutorial on it.

We drilled these at the top of both vertical pieces, on the inside part that will be facing the couch arm. We’ll use them to attach the top piece later.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

Step 3: Attach the sisal

Next we wrapped the longer vertical board (the one on out outside of the couch arm) with thick 3/8″ diameter sisal rope. We used most of this 100 foot roll which is pretty crazy. DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com Because it’s so thick, we had to wrap the board first before we could get an accurate measurement of how wide our top piece needs to be.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

We attached the sisal in such a way that if she really goes to town on it and at some point we need to replace it, we can easily do so. First we drilled a hole at one end of our longer piece of wood.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

Tape the end of the sisal and thread it through the hole so that the taped end is on the pocket hole side of your board.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com We secured the sisal by screwing through it and into the wood. First drill a small pilot hole, making sure to NOT go all the way through the wood.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com Then screw through the taped end of the sisal and into the pilot hole. Make sure you use a small enough screw that won’t go all the way through your board (we used #8 x 3/4” wood screws).

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com Next we rounded out our edges with the router and ⅛” radius roundover bit. Eventually we are going to round pretty much every edge except those that are joined together, but for now we just rounded out the edges of the piece that will have the sisal because we wanted to do it before we wrapped it.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com As we started, we realized we should have rounded these edges BEFORE we attached the sisal because it actually got in the way of the router. So we had to detach it, round the edges, and then reattach it.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com After reattaching the sisal, we got started wrapping it tightly around the board. It helps to have a buddy for this part because our arms actually got surprisingly tired haha.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com We attached the end of the sisal the same way we started it, by drilling a hole through the wood, threading through the sisal, and screwing it to the board on the pocket hole side of the wood (the same side we screwed the starting end to)

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

Step 4: Measure & cut the top piece

Next we are going to measure out and cut our top piece of wood.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com First we put the two vertical pieces in place.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com We made sure they were level, then measured the distance between the outside edge of each board.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com We cut that length on the miter saw, but again, use whatever saw you’ve got.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com Before attaching the top piece, we rounded the corners of the rest of our edges. Like I mentioned before, we wanted to round out everything but the edges that we would join together.

Step 5: Sand & smooth

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com Then we sanded out surfaces so that everything was smooth because it’s a lot easier to do before everything is assembled. We used the random orbit sander on the large surfaces and hand sanded it with a sanding block on the edges.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

Step 6: Attach everything

We used right angle clamps to keep the boards as square as we could before attaching them. In the picture below, we’re attaching the top piece to the shorter vertical piece

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com We screwed through our pocket holes using pocket hole screws. If you didn’t do pocket holes, this is where you could screw wood screws perpendicularly through the boards.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com When it came time to attach the long vertical wood piece, the dang sisal was in the way again so we had to get creative with some additional clamps and scrap wood in order to clamp the boards at a right angle. But we figured it out and screwed through those pocket holes as well.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com Yay, all attached!

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

Step 7: Finishing

Next we rounded out the corners of our top piece so that they matched up with the rounded corners of our side pieces. You can see in this picture where some edges are still sharp, and some are already rounded.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

Then we rounded the rest of the top piece. You could potentially do all the edge rounding at once, we just thought it was easier to do it as we went.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com We noticed there were a couple slight gaps where our pieces joined together. So we filled them with sanding dust from our sander and some glue. This is a great alternative to wood putty, and it’s guaranteed to match the color of your wood. Add more dust if you need to, and sand it to finish.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com A trick to get your cat interested in the scratching post is to spray it with catnip spray. It’s sorta cheating… but it works! We also like to scratch on it with our hands to help show her what it’s for.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

If all your measurements were correct (cross your fingers!) this should slide right over your couch arm.

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com She’s spotted it…

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com She actually likes it!!! Eeeeeeep!!

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com We definitely like this new scratching post more than our old one. It feels a little more finished looking, and we don’t have to worry about stubbing our toes (although we’ll still hold onto the old one for a while)

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

Hope she continues to like and use it! Please, Mochi, please use it, for the sake of our couch…

DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post - evanandkatelyn.com

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0

Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison

We’ve been doing more and more woodworking over the past year, and our arsenal of tools and equipment has grown steadily. We’ve always been pretty safety conscious (thanks to Evan, who always has to remind me to put on my eye/ear protection, respirator, etc) but with the increased dangerous-equipment-usage, we’ve been feeling the need to up our safety game even more. Enter the Push Sticks.

[Before we keep going, I want to pause and say if you have a second it would mean SO much to us if you’d like our video or subscribe to our channel. Since we’re brand new to YouTube, every view, like, and subscription makes a huge difference for us. Click here to see the whole channel. Thank youuuuu! We’re doing a big goofy happy dance right now!]

Basically, a push stick is a tool you use when you’re working on a table saw to be able to a) keep your hands farther from the spinning blade of doom, and b) give yourself more control to safely maneuver a piece of wood through said spinning blade of doom. There are two common styles out there that were popularized by Matthias Wandel and John Heisz, so we made each of those versions and tried them for ourselves.

The Wandel version is based around the idea of using two long-handled push sticks. You hold them pretty far back, which keeps your hands quite far from the blade. One is used to push the wood forward, and one is used to hold it from the side and keep it straight. Because of how you hold each of them, you tend to stand a little more to the side which means you’re less likely to get hit if there’s a kick back.

 Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com

The Heisz version is designed in a way that applies forward and downward pressure at the same time so that you have solid control of the wood without having to apply as much force yourself (meaning you’re less likely to fall forward toward the blade). It also has a log of surface area that touches the wood and feels like it gives you great control.

 Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com

Here’s what you’ll need:

Step 1: Print, cut, and glue template

The first step was to download the templates. We printed them out, roughly cut around their shapes, and glued them to the wood.

 Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com  Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com

Step 2: Cut out push sticks

We cut out our push sticks on our band saw, but you could do it using a jig saw as well. The band saw gives you a little more control though, so if you’ve already got one, that’s what we’d recommenD.

 Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com  Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com

Step 3: smoothing and sanding

This step is optional. We decided to round out our sharp edges (and imperfections because yours truly got a little carried away on the band saw) using a 1/8″ roundover bit. This mainly gave us some smoother to hold onto. We also sanded these to get them even smoother, plus sanding removed any paper we couldn’t pull off and the remaining glue residue.

 Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com  Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com  Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com  Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com Done!

And that’s it! These guys are super easy to make. But I know what you’re all wondering… which one did we end up liking better?

First we tested the Heisz version…

 Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com Then we tested the Wandel version…

 Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com And our favorite is… the Wandel push stick! We ultimately chose it because we felt less scared using it, which is a totally personal perception. But you could push the board farther without having to get close to the blade at all, which was nice, and having that secondary stick to help guide the wood made us feel a little bit more in control.

 Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com With the Heisz version, we had to reach our arms over the blade to push the wood all the way through, which we weren’t crazy about. Although we DID like how much more surface area of the push stick was in contact with the wood using the Heisz push stick.

 Wandel vs Heisz push stick comparison - evanandkatelyn.com In the end… I think we’re actually going to try and make our own, using what we liked from each design. Stay tuned for a video and post covering that soon!

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0

Simple DIY cutting board

We’ve been wanting to get into hardwoods lately. We’ve done some “light” woodworking in the past (like this simple side table we made or our DIY marquee letters), but we’ve always just used whatever cheap wood we could find at Home Depot.

Don’t get me wrong – there is a lot you can do with inexpensive framing lumber, plywood, etc, and we will continue to use it I’m sure. But for this project, we needed to get our hands on something a little more specific/fancy/drool-worthy.

Enter the DIY cutting board. Our excuse to get our hands on something really really nice.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com

You can watch the video that covers everything below, or keep scrolling for all our choices, steps, and tips in blog-format.

[Before we keep going, I want to pause and say if you have a second it would mean SO much to us if you’d like our video or subscribe to our channel. Since we’re brand new to YouTube, every view, like, and subscription makes a huge difference for us. Click here to see the whole channel. Thank youuuuu! We’re doing a big goofy happy dance right now!]

We originally wanted to make these cutting boards as gifts and/or to sell on our Etsy shop, but we liked them so much we couldn’t help but turn this into a tutorial too.

So pretty much as soon as we could, we found the closest lumberyard and got our butts over there. Side note, we realized that lumberyards are often closed on weekends and evenings, so if you work full time like we do you might want to check their hours before you drive all the way over there *cough* learn from our mistakes *cough*.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com (sorry about the bad selfie quality!)

Walking in, we had a “a whole new wooorrrld” moment. It was amazing, we could have stayed there all day. Literally, they had to politely ask us to to make our purchase and head out because they were closing. But enough about our lumberyard adventure, let’s get to the real meat of this tutorial.

Here’s what you’ll need

Side note, we’ll be making a face grain cutting board, which is often the prettiest and easiest, but is not the most durable option. We will be making another tutorial for an edge grain or end grain cutting board soon though which are more durable but more difficult to make, so keep your eye out.

Wood selection is key in this project. There are a few different things you need to look for when choosing it. It needs to be:

  • Durable
  • Food safe
  • Close grained

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com Some good options we came across in our research are maple, cherry, and walnut. Maple is on the cheaper end, so we started with that (note: we’ve since gone back and made another out of walnut too and it’s preeeety).

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com When picking your board, check for damage and flatness/straightness. Damage is pretty obvious, just know that even little imperfections that might be ok in other projects will cause you extra headache on this cutting board, like little dinks in the wood or a cool knot.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com A good way to quickly check for flatness is to look down the length of the board at a steep angle and see if it still looks straight. The steep angle amplifies any changes in the straightness. If it looks bendy or wavy at all, see if you can find a straighter piece.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com We ended up choosing an 8-inch wide piece of hard maple. Feeling pretty fancy after dropping more than $10 on a piece of wood, we got kicked out went home to get started.

First, we cut our board to about 16 inches long using our miter saw. The length (and width) are really up to you, but we thought the 8”x16” size looked good.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com We also decided to cut off one corner to add some visual interest, but again, totally optional. We just liked the look of it.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com Then we marked where our hole would be drilled. The hole can be used for hanging the cutting board, and it also adds even more visual interest. We marked the center of our corner cut, and made a mark about 1 inch inward from the center (we used a combination square). That mark became the center of our hole.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com We used a drill press with a 1-⅛” hole saw to cut the hole. Make sure to not drill all the way through from one side of our board. This could damage the grains on the other side. Instead, just as the tip of the drill exits the wood, stop drilling, flip the board, and continue drilling from the other side, using the tiny hole you made with the tip of the drill as your guide.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com Woooo, that’s all the cuts you need to make! Pretty simple right?

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com Now it’s time to make it smooth and pretty. First, sand top side, bottom side, and outer edges with a random orbit sander using 220 grit sandpaper. I spent some time on the edges of the 45 degree cut to round the sharp edge. Don’t worry about the 90 degree corners, we’ll handle those later.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com Then use a router with a ⅛” radius roundover bit to take the corners from a sharp edge to a round edge. This bit is a game changer! I never thought about how much of a difference having that rounded edge made.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com I also rounded over the 90 degree corners with this. It makes the finished product look extra nice because all the corners will have the exact same radius.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com Next, we hand sanded our newly rounded corners and the inside of our hole with some 220-320 grit sandpaper. We found that sanding a higher quality hardwood is much easier and quicker than something like pine, that gets more splintered when you cut it.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com Final step – oil your wood! Make sure to get the outside edges and inside the hanging hole too. We are in love with Natchez Solution wood oil, it’s the same stuff we’ve been using on the butcher block dining table we DIY’d a few months ago. It’s got mineral oil, lemon oil, and beeswax.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com After waiting 24 hours, your cutting board is ready to be used! Cutting on it for the first time was a little nerve-racking, I’ll admit. It was so pretty and perfect I didn’t want to mess it up. But I’m happy to report that it works and washes up well! A few light knife marks and no staining so far.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com Hope you guys like this tutorial! If you want one of these cutting boards but not sure if you want to tackle the project yourself, we actually sell them too! You can find them in a few different wood options on our Etsy shop.

DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Solid Wood Cutting Board - evanandkatelyn.com Note: This post contains affiliated links. Thank you for supporting our blog!

2

DIY Simple Side Table

Evan here again! So for a while, I hate to admit it, we were using my old TV tray as a side table. Hey. It fit. But it was not a good long term solution for two picky DIY artists. By this time (back in 2013 actually, sorry for such a late update!), I had gotten my woodworking confidence up, but I had not done any major projects with woodworking yet. So let me share my first one with you:

DIY simple side table - evanandkatelyn.com

Muuuch better, right? This journey was not the smoothest… At first I was inspired by this pallet I found:

IMG_4802

It seems like they are all the rage in the DIY community. I must have had really bad luck. This was some super heavy duty super nailed together super pallet. But not super good for getting good wood from. I really did try. Then I put it in the scrap pile and went to Home Depot.

IMG_4804

Got some nice real wood (no plywood for my first big project!) All the same width. All I needed to do was cut them to length and start joining!

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This was before I had more toys tools in my arsenal garage, so I made do with some scrap wood to help me cut. Prooobably not recommended. A table saw would have been muuuuch better. Now that I have one (a shoutout of thanks to my brother and sister in law here for hooking me up for our wedding (yes, this project was that long ago)) I know how awesome it is.

DIY simple side table - evanandkatelyn.com

Once cut to size (measure, measure, measure, cut) I did a test fit! Looks good so far. I went with a nice basic shape (a blocky A?). To join them I drilled holes and glued in dowels! If I were to do this again, I would have used screws and counter-bores then capped them with tiny lengths of dowels on top (picture below sums it up better). I used dowels instead of just screws so that the entire outside of the side table would be wood (say that 5 times fast… wait, I just did it too and it’s not that hard, please ignore).

Pro_Plug_Wood_Installation_diagram-02

But this was my first project so I just went for it.

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Not the prettiest work but that is why I bought wood filler.

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Katelyn helped me out with joining them all together with the dowels and glue (and therefore we didn’t get too many pictures of the process). But I did get this gem:

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Once everything was joined it was time to liberally apply wood filler.

DIY simple side table - evanandkatelyn.com

When it all started to look awesome is actually when I took the sander to the side table. It started to feel like a finished product. All the rough edges or mismatches were worn away and it came together into one piece.

DIY simple side table - evanandkatelyn.com

And if sanding is when it started to look finished, staining is when it really DID look finished. This might be the most satisfying step because there is such a large change for fairly low effort. I’ve adopted the wipe on, wipe off method. Get the stain on the wood and wipe it off right away.

IMG_5098

Since this was going to be a piece of furniture we would use regularly and possibly with drinks/spills/condensation, I went ahead and sealed it too.

DIY simple side table - evanandkatelyn.com

Hope this post helps people at the beginning of their DIY adventure like I was to jump in and try their hand at something new, or get a more experienced hand out into their workshop again :)

2

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 and part 2. 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 and 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. 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 – $38
Nails, hammers, clamps, saw, brushes, etc – already owned/needed to have anyway

TOTAL = $97

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

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

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Makin’ Loooooove… part 2 {DIY Marquee Letters}

(Continued from part 1) There are a ton of great toys you can use for this next step… I mean… power tools… I used my jig saw. It’s a great wood/everything cutting power tool when you’re living in an apartment and don’t have a garage to store big toys. Soon to be fixed ^_^ (I’m sure there will be a post with a handyman garage setup).

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Since we traced the letters in the previous post cutting them out was pretty easy. Remember, don’t push too hard or the edges will be rough and require more sanding. If you are unfamiliar with using a jig saw I would practice on some spare lumber. Also, since we bought our lumber before hand we planned the height of the letters so they would not require any cutting on the top and bottom. Before you know it you’ll have a masterly crafted letter in your hands:

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Letters like the L are pretty easy to cut. No hard to reach corners. But when tight corners do arise don’t loose hope. Again, get some extra lumber and test to see how tight corners you can cut with whatever power tools you are using. With my jig saw I ended up doing a gradual turn and then backtracking to get that straight edge I wanted:

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Before you know it you’ll have all your letters cut out! Good thing we remembered to take a picture when we were all done and not just partially so!!… not.

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Whatever could we be spelling?! Live?!… umm can’t think of anything else but the other live… and love :)

Next we roll out the template again and gently hammer a nail in (somewhat of an oxymoron). Just nail it partially in to mark where you’ll be drilling later:

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

For the lights that we mentioned earlier a 13/16″ spade drill bit worked PERFECTLY! Just barely lets the light socket through. Make sure to measure a properly sized hole if you aren’t using our same lights. Run to your fav hardware store and pick up a your fav type of hole drill and have at it!

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Follow the pattern you laid out earlier with your gentle nailing and you’ll do swell! Lay out your letters and admire your handiwork:

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

After you’ve made all the holes for your light bulbs, you’re gonna want to sand things down a bit. Because the plywood we got was pre-sanded, this part was pretty easy. We just did a few gentle swipes along the face of the letters and focused mainly on the edges using 220 grit sand paper.

Next came my favorite part… staining!! This was the first time we stained anything and it was awesome. Now we want to stain ALL THE THINGS! Before you go all stain crazy on your letters though, I’d recommend testing the stain on some scrap wood first. Again, we used Minwax stain in “Dark Walnut” (because we loved how it look on some projects over at Young House Love!)

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

We tested how the stain looked after sitting for 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, and 10 minutes. When each section was done, we wiped things down with a clean old T-shirt. The visual difference between the stain times was pretty subtle so we decided to go with 1 minute. Hey, we are impatient!

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Now it’s time to go to town on the letters! Make sure to wipe them down to get rid of dust and stuff first. Also, work somewhere well-ventilated. For us that meant our wittle teeny apartment balcony. Gotta work with what you’ve got! Also, remember to lay down a dropcloth or something to catch any drips. I read online that you’re supposed to apply the stain with the grain, so that’s what we did. The internet said so, so it must be true!

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

We didn’t worry too much about our edges because they won’t show once we add our metal sides. Also, by the time our minute of staining time was up almost all the stain was absorbed by the wood, but we still wiped off the little bit of excess with a clean old T-shirt.

Literally like 5 minutes later, we were done! Of course, you know we also had to pop some light bulbs in and test how they looked with the stained wood. One step closer to marquee-style letters for our wedding!

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

PS- Check out part 1: making the template, and part 3: attaching the metal siding for the full tutorial of this project! :D

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DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com
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Makin’ Loooooove… {DIY Marquee Letters}

Makin’ loooove…letters! As in L.O.V.E, sheesh! Just look below and see what I mean…

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

We saw these marquee letters at a wedding expo and immediately thought they’d be awesome to have at our wedding. But renting them from a wedding decor company would be hella expensive, so my engineer fiance got to work! First we took some super precise measurements by taking a picture of my arm against the letters so we could eyeball the size later. You can tell by my expression that I totally did not feel awkward at all posing in the middle of the display.

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Then we got home and got to work! We figured out from the above picture that we wanted them to be about 2 feet tall, and we went from there. We sorted through my library of 1,300+ fonts (I have a font problem… and I’m not ashamed) and picked one that suited us. Then we made a to-scale image in Photoshop. You can download it here if you’d like to use the font we used as a template.

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

The little circles are guides for where the light bulbs would need to go. Then we just printed it and boom- instant template!

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

When it came to supplies, we had to decide if we wanted to use wood, metal, foam core (that’s what most the online tutorials use), or something else. We ended up deciding on wood for the letters and metal for the siding. We found pre-sanded 2-foot-tall birch plywood that said “ready-to-stain” at Home Depot for $14 a pop. Sold! We picked up two of those, a roll of 6″ galvanized steel, some Minwax stain in “Dark Walnut” (because we loved how it look on Young House Love!) and a couple packs of outdoor lights.

We were just sort of wingin’ it and picking up what looked like it should work. We’ll do a full supplies list and cost breakdown at the end of things since I’m sure there will be more stuff we need to get along the way.

Next we cut out our letters, taped them together into something traceable, then laid them out on our plywood and traced away!

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Once our letters were traced, it was time for the fun part- sawing! But this post has gotten pretty long, and Evan’s definitely the power-tool-wielding one in the relationship, so he’ll probably write about the sawing stuff. So for now we’ll end things here and pick back up later with part-2! On a side note, I should try to remember NOT to wear my super flattering XXL comfy pants when we’re taking pics for the blog… oh well!

PS- Check out part 2: cutting out and staining the letters, and part 3: attaching the metal siding for the full tutorial of this project! :D

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DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com
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