So, I have a confession. Having been in a foreign country for the last 3 years, I didn't know a thing about the letter board trend. I started seeing them all over Instagram, and being a Linguistics major, I big-fat-puffy-heart LOVE words. I was so excited to snag one for myself...until I started seeing the price tags. Have you seen how much they cost??! Yowza! Some of them are well over $100, and even the cheapest Amazon ones are $35. It's not a bad deal if you're not feeling especially crafty. Especially since it includes some letters!
But if you're interested in saving some cash, read on for a simple explanation of how I made one from stuff I had laying around the house.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. All opinions are my own, and the items linked are actual items used in this project.
After deciding I didn't want to pay a fortune for my letter board, I turned to Pinterest to help me find some amazing blogger who had already done the footwork, so I would make my own. Apartment Therapy had a good tutorial, but I didn't want to go out and buy a bunch of dowels and frame. And I've cut dowels before...it's not an easy task. They sliver and splinter off and are not really that fun to work with because they're so small. It got my wheels turning, though...
I''ll totally confess to bing a craft hoarder. It's in my DNA ("dunna" for you moms who've been forced to sit through Zootopia one too many times). I just have a ridiculously hard time letting go of something that might one day become something else totally awesome and different! And today was one of those days. Other than the letters that I ordered on Amazon, I had all supplies on hand.
- 12" bamboo skewers
- felt pieces (I'll go into detail on quantity next) I used these gray 9x12 sheets
-hot glue...lots and lots of hot glue
-Some kind of backer board
-Wood glue and clamps
-letters Any size in increments of 1/4" works. The small ones in my photo are these 1/2" letters And the large ones can be found here
The felt that I had on hand is 9"x12", and that's a pretty standard size. It worked well since my skewers were also 12". I wasn't sure how much I'd need since this was an experiment. You can make the boards as long as you'd like. I cut my pieces in 7/8" strips (right between 3/4 and 1" for those of you who don't love math). ;) This makes it end at 10 pieces per sheet of felt.
Once the strips are folded over the skewer, they're each 1/4" wide. So 10 felt strips will give you 2.5" on your letter board. Keep calculating until you get the length of board you want. I just stopped when I ran out of skewers! Ha! My board is just shy of 40 strips (4 felt sheets and 40 skewers), and the finished size is 12" long x 10" tall.
Once your strips are cut, run a strip of hot glue down one edge and then close it up. I mentioned above that I've cut skewers and dowels before and don't love how they shred and piece off. I've tried using different saws and blades, scissors, etc., and none of them are ideal. So I decided to see how it worked to just leave the sharp tip on. Turns out it didn't affect the function at all, and it kept me from having to cut the felt yet one more time. SCORE!
Don't stress if a lot of your edges don't seal very well. Just use finish it up with another small dab of hot glue. You will use a LOT of glue. I think I went through 6 sicks!
Now it's time to choose what you're going to use as your backing. I had some large pieces of balsa wood sheets that were purchased in Italy to go between the rooms in my daughters' doll house that I built. We've redesigned the doll house, but thanks to my ninja hoarding skills, these pieces were sitting in my garage, waiting for their second chance at life.
Home Depot sells 1/4" thick panels in varying sizes for less than $5, and you could make multiple boards with one panel.
To decide on the width, you'll need to know what you're going to use to frame it. If you're using the 1x2's I mentioned, you can either do a 1.5" border, or slightly smaller if you want the 1x2's to go slightly beyond the backing. It looks a tad better from the side to have it inset like that just a touch, but it does make it a bit more squirmy when trying to clamp it and glue it later. Either option works, though.
So if you're making them flush, you'll want your board to be 15" wide. If you want it inset, I'd recommend about 14" wide to give you 1/2" on each side. The length of your board is completely up to you and how large you want it to be! You can see I left mine long since I wasn't sure how long it would end up being with the amount of skewers I had.
One thing I did not do that I wish I had was to trace the frame around the edges of my board. This
would have given me a line to lay the beginning skewer on to keep it straight. Mine are slightly off, and you can see up in the top left corner how I accidentally inset one too far. It's REALLY hard to pull them off once they're on since the hot glue adheres so well to the felt and the board.
You can see the pointy tips in a few there at the top. They just blend right in. No biggie.
Once your skewers are all attached, you can get your frame prepped. I mitered my corners, and from inside corner to inside corner needs to be 12" for the top and bottom pieces. Side edges will again depend on the length you're doing.
I chose to paint my pieces before putting them on because I knew it would be a huge mess with the felt.
I attached the 1x2's with wood glue and a couple of brad nails. Make sure you have the right size of brad nails...I thought I'd be safe with 3/4", and because they sink slightly, my first one shot through the front of my board. Ask me how happy I was about that... Blah! I recommend 1/2" if you have them. If not, some handy Gorilla Glue alone should do the trick if you can clamp it well and not mess up your pretty paint.
If you do end up with some small touch ups to do like I did on my corners, a simple trick to keep the paint from getting on your felt is to put a putty knife along the inside edge to keep it clean.
And there you have it. A DIY felt letter board for a tiny fraction of the cost! With the bonus that you can customize the size, shape, colors, etc.
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