you can make this diy oversized letter board

How to make a big letter board

Today I’m showing you how to make a big letter board using only a few pieces of lumber. This easy afternoon project is a fun way to add a punch of personality to your decor. I used my big letter board for a special announcement that you can see at the end of the post (wink, wink). But it would also be super cute hanging up in an entryway or anywhere you want to send a message.

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make an oversized letterboard, it's super easy; photo of big DIY letter board and creator, Emilee Anderson

I’m still working on scrap wood projects over here as we continue to shelter in place due to the Coronavirus. And while there are so many projects I’d like to go out and buy more lumber for, it’s been really nice work on some smaller projects and watch my scrap wood pile slowly dwindle down.

A few weeks ago I put together a quick and simple oversized letterboard using scrap wood I already had on hand. I had purchased an old set of marquee letters from my local thrift store months ago with this project in mind. I’m so happy that I finally got to put them to use!

DIY Letter board photo with plans and a rattan chair in a corner

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How to Make a Big Letter Board

Time and Skill Level

Making your Big Letter Board should only take about an hour. It’s a super quick project and only requires very basic woodworking skills. If you have access to a table saw you can totally tackle this project!

Be sure that you review safety procedures for your tools before you begin and always wear your safety equipment – especially ear and eye protection.

Supplies

  • Piece of 1/4″-3/4″ thick plywood (mine is 1/2″ thick and 30.5″ x 23.5″ )
  • Scrap 1x3s (I actually used some 2″ wide strips of cedar fence pickets I had on hand)
  • table saw
  • wood glue
  • brad nail gun or small nails and a hammer
  • Marquee style letters
    • I used big ones like these that I found at the thrift store, but they look pretty pricey to purchase new. If I were purchasing letters for this project, I would choose these – they’re smaller, colorful and way less expensive!

Make Your Big Letter Board

Cut your plywood and 1x3s

The first thing you will need to do is square up your plywood. You can do this with a table saw or with a circular saw. If your plywood already has straight edges and is the size you’d like for your big letter board you can skip this step.

My plywood was a piece of scrap that needed a little straightening out. I trimmed the sides using my table saw and ended up with a piece about 23.5″ wide and 30.5″ tall.

Next, I cut my 1x3s to 23.5″ long so that they were the same length as the width of my plywood. I did this on my miter saw. If you don’t have a miter saw you could also use a circular saw for this step.

I didn’t actually use 1x3s for this project, but they are a common board that you may have in your scrap pile. Instead I used 2″ thick strips of cedar fence picket boards that I had left over from my Big X Wood Wall Quilt. I’ll just refer to them as 1x3s throughout this tutorial.

Add grooves to 1x3s

Next, I created grooves in my 1x3s so that I would be able to slide letters onto my big letter board. I did this using my table saw.

Set up your table saw

To get your table saw ready to cut the grooves, you will need to adjust the riving knife to be level with your table saw surface. This will allow for partial depth cuts.

adjust riving knife on table saw

The riving knife is the metal piece behind the blade on your table saw. It acts like a splitter to keep the wood from pinching the blade when you make a through cut on the table saw. This is a safety feature to help prevent kickback.

If you can’t easily figure out how to adjust your table saw, just break out your manual and do a little research. The first time I did a partial depth cut was for my Modern Wood Planter and I had to refer to my manual to make sure I set up my table saw correctly.

Remember to unplug your table saw before you adjust your riving knife – safety first, people!

Cut those grooves

Once your table saw is set up for partial depth cuts to go it’s time to cut those grooves.

cut grooves into 1x3 boards

I set my blade to about 3/8″ tall. I decided on this height after measuring the clear space above the letters on my marquee letters. I wanted to make sure I made a groove deep enough to hold the letters, but not so deep that it would cover up the letters. You’ll want to use your letters to determine the depth of your grooves.

Next, I set the table saw fence so that the groove would be sawed into the center of the board. For 1x3s this would be a distance of about 3/8″ between the blade and the fence. I didn’t worry too much about getting this exact.

Then I went ahead and cut the grooves! I cut 2 boards with a groove on only one side for the top and the bottom. The rest I cut with a groove on both sides.

1x3s ready to attach to plywood for big letter board

My plywood was only big enough to accommodate 3 rows of marquee letters, but the number of rows on your sign will depend on the size of your plywood and the size of your letters.

Attach 1x3s to plywood

Next, attach the 1x3s to the plywood using wood glue and a nail gun. Be careful to keep your nails in the center of the 1×3 so that you don’t nail through the grooves.

wood glue, square and nail gun

I started at the bottom of my plywood and worked my way up. I didn’t do any actual measurements, but just used a marquee letter to judge the distance I needed between each 1×3.

side view of big letter board

Write your first big letter board message!

After all the of the 1x3s have been attached to the plywood your DIY big letter board is done! You could stain or paint it at this point, but I like the natural look.

I used some scrap fabric to make a little banner to go across the top of my big letter board and hang down the sides. It’s the prefect colorful addition for me!

Time for a Special Announcement!

Like I mentioned earlier, I built this big letter board for a special announcement. And…. notice anything different?

big letter board pregnancy announcement

Yep! We’re on our way to tackling one the most rewarding and challenging projects I can think of. ❤

We’ll be welcoming our second child sometime in early September! A girl! This has been a tough secret to keep, but now that we’re halfway to meeting this sweet babe I finally feel ready to tell the whole world. It’s not like I can hide this belly anyways ?

I’m still building away over here and am totally enjoying this second trimester burst of energy. But I’m also taking lots of breaks and letting my number one focus be keeping this body healthy for the little life growing inside.

I don’t have any plans of slowing down right now, but if you notice me skipping out on sharing projects for a week or two, just know that I haven’t forgotten about you and I’ll be back when the time is right.

DIY Big Letter Board

I love having tools and lumber on hand so that I can whip up quick projects like this whenever the mood strikes. I put this big letter board together during my son’s afternoon nap and had it ready for some quick announcement pictures in about an hour!

DIY letter board, you can make this, it's super easy

I want to hear from you!

This DIY big letter board is super beginner friendly and I hope you make your own version! I’d love to make a smaller one using these colorful marquee letters. (It’s totally on my to do list.)

If you make this project, pretty please share it with me? I’d love to see what you create! You can find me on Facebook and Instagram as @MamaNeedsaProject.

Happy Building!

2 Comments

  1. I love this! Thanks so much for sharing! I really like the colorful letters you shared a link to. And congratulations….how exciting!

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