Tag Archives | typography

Nailed It! DIY Free-Standing Nail & String Letters

You guys learned about our love of large typography when we made our DIY L.O.V.E. Marquee letters (which looked AMAZING at our wedding by the way!)

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

Well the large-wooden-letter train did not stop there! We also wanted to do a large “E” and a large “K” (for Evan and Katelyn) to hang at the entrance of our venue. But it was sort of a last minute addition to the DIY to-do list (and by “last minute” I mean we still had like 2 months… I plan things very far in advance, so 2 months to go counts as last minute), so we didn’t want to take on anything too complicated.

Then I remembered seeing all those cool string & nail letters on Pinterest and it was settled! (Not sure what I’m referring too? Check out these). Of course, we had to do something a littttttle different than what was already out there. You’ll notice that most existing examples are some sort of rectangular “canvas” (wood, foam board, etc) with the nails outlining the letters. We wanted free standing letters.

First we chose a font and printed it really large, similar to how we did for the L.O.V.E. letters, across multiple sheets of paper.

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

There are a couple ways to print them that way. When we did the marquee letters, 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/

This time we used rasterbator.net (aka the most awkward website to tell your friends to go to), 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

Once we taped together our sheets and cut out our letters, we were ready to go. Mochi wasn’t ready for us to go, but we were ready to go.

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

We picked up one piece of 2 feet x 4 feet pre-sanded plywood (the same kind we used for the marquee letters), we traced out the letters, and Evan cut them with his jigsaw. Somehow forgot to take photos of this part. Then we hammered thin finishing nails at regular increments around the perimeter of the letters. Somehow forgot to take photos of that part too. Seriously, we stop blogging for a few months to plan a little wedding and all our tutorial-making skills go out the window. Anyway, here is how things were looking after the nails were in.

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

We tried to get pretty close to the edge with the nails, but not tooooo close because we didn’t want the wood to split.

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

In retrospect, we should have stained them before we added the nails. But the nails weren’t too hard to stain around. And since they were a dark color, any stain that got on them didn’t really show up. We used a Minwax stain in Dark Walnut and Evan swiped it on with a brush and then spread it out with an old T-shirt rag.

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

Then we moved onto the E. Looking good!

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

Once they were dry we took them inside to start stringing ’em up. This was the fun part :D

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

I couldn’t decide on what colors to use so I got 3 different teals and 3 different peaches to choose from. We ended up using… all of them! Yep, we got started with a teal on the E and a peach on the K and then just decided to keep going until we used up all the string because we didn’t want to go back to the store, even though the colors weren’t the same. It turned out pretty sweet though!

Below you can see the K after one color of string (it looks white in the photo but it’s actually a light peach) and again after all three colors of string were added.

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

To add the string, we would tie one end tightly to a nail and just start zig zagging around, trying to get the string pretty evenly distributed around the letter. When we finished one color, we would tie it off on the closest nail and start a new color.

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

Annnnnnd done! It was super fast and easy adding the string.

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

The letters looked super cute at the wedding! We used fishing wire to hang them on the big wooden doors at the entrance of our venue.

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

And the awesome part is that now we get to use them as art in our home! There is a lot of wedding decor that gets used on the big day and never again, but we tried to make as much as possible usable in our home after the wedding. Now we have these letters hanging on the brick in our entryway.

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

You can see them here looking into our living room. (Pay no attention to those stray wires hanging from the ceiling, all will be explained in good time…)

DIY Nail & String Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

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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

IMG_3896 copy2

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

Note: This post contains affiliated links. Thank you for supporting our blog!
DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com
11

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

Note: This post contains affiliated links. Thank you for supporting our blog!
DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com
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