Monday, January 28, 2013

DIY Barn Board Letters

Hi this is Mitch again. You may remember me from my pallet ceiling post and more recent love/hate list.

My wife has decided to make me a regular writer on her blog for some reason. So every once in a while I will be posting about certain projects that I do around the house. I am by no means an expert but just a guy that is not afraid to try and figure it out myself.

You may have seen the pictures from the boys room that we just finished last week. Well one of the features in the room was the large "B" and "R" above the boys beds. A while back, Kat asked me if I could make large letters out of barn wood for their rooms. I am definitely not an artist but figured I could try anyway. I think they turned out pretty well.

At first, I wasn't really sure where to start and really didn't want them to look cheap and homemade. Plus anybody that has ever seen me play Pictionary knows that I can't draw overly well. Animals for me in that game were the worst and always gave everyone a good laugh. Also, it didn't help much that she started thinking the letters probably wouldn't turn out right if we did them ourselves, but despite that I felt fairly confident. Originally, it was going to be letters somehow pieced together out of barn wood attached to the wall, but we decided that it would probably look better if I just made some kind of wooden background and then attached the letters to that. Luckily, I have a fairly large stash of old barn wood that I found free on Craigslist last summer.

Warning: sweatpants alert! Yeah, that's right, I'm not afraid to rock the comfort.

I randomly picked a size of 24 inches wide by 30 inches high for the background.

 It came out to 6 boards per piece.

Then came the hard part, drawing a letter that actually looked good. I figured I am already wearing my favorite hat and sweetly paint-stained sweatpants, I got this! I decided to make it so there was about 5 inches of the background behind the letter on all sides, so that came out to making the letters 14 inches wide by 20 inches high. Really, I just picked up a pencil and tape measure and started practicing on a piece of cardboard. I made the thickness of the letter 2.5 inches and just took some measurements, drew lines with a straight edge, and made it up as I went.

I used a plate to trace the curves at the round parts of the "R" and "B" and then measured 2.5 inches from the little curve to make the larger curve. I am connecting the dots of the larger curve in this picture.

Once I was done drawing, I cut it out with scissors to see if I liked the size.

I was pleased enough to give it a try. I found some nice plywood scraps that were just the right size and redrew both letters on the wood the same way I did on the cardboard. I didn't want to trace it from the cardboard because my scissor cutting wasn't the greatest and I wanted straight lines.

With the drawing looking like an "R", I was ready to use the jigsaw.

After cutting and a quick sanding, they actually looked pretty good.

My wife picked some left over red paint, grabbed her purple sweatpants, and started painting. Bryce didn't get the memo apparently and figured undies were more appropriate attire.

With the barn wood boards still being loose, I wanted to somehow make them into a solid piece. I found a scrap piece of thin plywood and cut it to about an inch smaller than the barn wood background and placed it on the back of the wood...

then just nailed it into place.

All right, now it is all one solid piece.

I placed the letters on one last time to make sure it looked right. Wait...jeans? Oh well!

I was now ready to attach the barn wood piece to the wall. I wanted it to be secure to the wall but didn't want any screws to be showing, so I found the studs and put a few screws in where I knew the letter would cover them.

Making sure they are centered and the same height

Nailed the letters to the board with nail gun

And the final products.


Personally, I think they turned out great and it feels good to say that I made them myself. I am sure that there are artsy people out there that could have done it much fancier than I did, but I doubt they would have looked as good in my sweatpants while doing it.


  1. I love the bright red against the rough barnboards. They look fantastic above the beds. Well done.

  2. What a great project! It's this kind of thing that makes me wish I had a bigger home...the one bedroom condo doesn't quite cut it :-) Thanks for sharing!

  3. I want to copy your idea for the letters...awesome idea



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