My wedding is exactly one week away. I'm super excited to finally tie the knot with my wonderful fiance and stop spending so much time and energy on things like stamped cardboard sleeves for coffee cups and perfectly tied chair bows just to make the wedding Pinterest worthy. Of course, I bring this exhaustion upon myself since I'm a sucker for overly decorated reception halls and cute little coordinating details.
So, I figured what better way to wrap up my wedding DIY projects in the last, hectic week than to DIY a big, beautiful, wooden Mr and Mrs sign to sit on a ledge behind our head table! I might as well go out with a bang, right?
You've probably seen much smaller wooden and/or cardboard letters like these in craft stores. The problem with using these smaller letters is that they're not really suitable for medium to large sized events. Sure, they look great spelling out a child's name on a bedroom wall, or sitting decoratively on a bookshelf, but 9 inch letters would just be illegible and look silly against a big reception hall wall.
With the proper tools, these letters were not too difficult to make. Here's what we used:
- (1) Sheet of 11/32" 4'x8' BC Sanded Pine Plywood
In regards to choosing plywood, we made these letters specifically to rest on a ledge that was only about 1" away from the wall. Therefore, we needed to choose a plywood sheet that was less than 1/2 inch wide. However, if you have a larger ledge or want to rest the letters on the ground against a wall, I would definitely recommend going with something a little thicker. The 11/32" worked very well in our application, but it was still flimsy at times when using the jigsaw and was prone to accidental snapping and tearing. Luckily, our letters are being viewed from a distance, so our small defects and errors will go unnoticed.
Additionally, the "BC" part of the plywood name is actually the quality rating. One side is B, the other C. This quality was fine for our application since the letters are only being viewed from one side and being painted. If you feel it is important to use higher quality wood in your project, by all means do so.
Once you decide on a sheet of wood, you'll want to cut it into 6 equal sized pieces. If you ask really nicely, the workers at Home Depot and Lowes will do this for you (which also makes fitting them into your car much easier).
Next, here's the secret to making big, beautiful wooden letters: Use a projector to trace the letters. This is by far the best and easiest way to ensure the letters turn out even and professional looking. If you don't have a projector, the next best solution is to print the letters onto large paper in the correct size, then tape it down and carefully trace over it. If you still cannot do this, you can try drawing the letters out by hand. However, this takes a lot more effort to look as nice as the other methods.
To keep yourself sane, I recommend a non-script font that uses mostly straight lines. We used the font: Felix Titling
Once the letters are traced, its time to head to the wood shop and cut them out. Grab a jigsaw and cut on the lines drawn! (Remember to be careful when using sharp objects! Safety first!) Here are a few tips we learned along the way to make this process quicker and easier:
- If you're using a relatively thin plywood such as we did, you can stack two similar letters and cut them both out at the same time. We screwed the boards together in spaces that were going to be cut out anyways. This kept them secured together nicely while cutting.
- Trim the outside edges first. When you cut away the center, it becomes much less supported and more likely to break.
- Having the jigsaw reciprocate slowly actually led to more accidental tearing.
- When cutting out a fully enclosed center segment, like the middle of an O, R, or B, drill a hole to get a place to start the jigsaw.
Once finished, take a moment to appreciate the glory of your handiwork.
Lastly, all you need to do is paint the letters to your desired color or finish. I would recommended using spray paint to keep things quick and easy. Unfortunately, I had to choose an alternative method since Fiance and I are currently living in an apartment complex. It is also the middle of winter and freezing.
Since I was restricted to painting and allowing them to dry inside, I didn't want to use anything messy, or any paints with fumes. I decided just to use the simple, cheap 2oz tubes of craft paint. These tubes are usually less than $2, but I was already committed to the slightly more expensive Folk Art brand in Champagne Metallic, since I've used this exact shade in other crafts for my wedding. This method didn't use nearly as much paint as I initially thought. I used approximately 4oz of paint per layer, so just 2 of those little craft tubes per color (1 layer of white, 1 layer of champagne).
As a side note, if you are going to mix your perfect color, I would advise making a big enough batch to last through all layers and letters. If you run out unexpectedly and need to mix a new batch, it will be near impossible to keep the shade the exact same, and you will probably need to end up repainting over the ones you already completed.
...and here's the finished result! Big, beautiful wooden letters for under $30!
Update: Here are the final letters as they appeared in our reception hall on our big day! They were definitely visible from across the room and made a statement!