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1.25.2013

Spell It Out!

TUTORIAL: Giant Letter Tiles
Welcome to Day 11!
first, i'm going to tell you a story - 
and then, i'll share a quick & easy tutorial!

remember this photo of my cement tile backerboard chalkboard from THIS previous post?
 see the part at the bottom that says
"use OLD WOOD GUTTER as chalk rail" ?

that's where this story begins!
we were hanging that chalkboard in our new home,
and discovered that the chalk rail just wasn't going to work there.
[it was in a hallway and the rail would have been ankle-height - need i say more?]

so i was holding the piece of old gutter, turned to walk into the family room...
and right on the enamel table in front of me was a Scrabble game tile holder with Scrabble letters in it.
they spelled out our last name. we've all seen this done, right?

i'd seen them sitting there every day,
BUT THAT  DAY
with the big ol' wood gutter piece in my hands
a big light bulb went off in my head as i thought of something NEW:
"the gutter looks like the game tile holder. just - bigger.
why not make letter tiles - BIGGER!?"

and so, we did:
we sold a LOT of them at vintage shows in the Pacific Northwest that summer!
i still have some of my own, and have a lot of fun making different words for various seasons.

*nope, there are no numbers on my versions.
they are not called Scrabble tiles. this product is 'inspired by', not a copy.

now you can make your own versions of these giant letter tiles  
with this quick & easy tutorial:

supplies: 
a piece of wood (details below)
sandpaper (fine grit)
sanding sealer spray
a black Sharpie fine point marker
clear varnish spray

please READ THE INSTRUCTIONS IN THE PHOTOS
and then the notes under the photos...

 finish grade vertical grain douglas fir runs about $1.50 per linear foot - 
less than $10 for a 6 foot board, which yields 14 letter tiles.
[if you want to have a LOT of letters, grab two boards or a longer length]

quick note:
yes, you CAN use reclaimed lumber, old flooring, old fencing, 
or whatever you want to use to make your letter tiles.
the douglas fir grain & color gives the best 'just like the game pieces' look, though.

and yes, the guys in the lumber department at Lowes & Home Depot WILL cut it for you!
all you have to do is ask them to, and give them the 5" measurement. 
[you may be charged 50 cents per cut, but hey, it saves you the work!]

 sand the edges FIRST, then the tops - the tops look better that way.
then spray the sealer on the side that you will be lettering, and let dry.
[you can seal the whole thing if you want, but it's only necessary to keep the Sharpie marker ink from bleeding into the woodgrain.]

figure out what you want your letters to spell out, 
and add a letter to each tile using the black Sharpie marker.
 a straight ruler and a smooth curved jar lid will help keep your lettering crisp.

seriously, let the marker dry - if you don't, it will run when you spray the varnish on!

let the varnish dry 30 minutes, then flip & spray the back. spray the edges, too.
let dry at least an hour in a warm place to 'cure' the varnish before you use them.

and that's it!
now you have letters to make a sign with, or a trivet, or coasters
you can adhere hooks to the back and hang them up, or....?

and if you head to a salvage yard or the ReStore, you might just find a length of old wooden gutter to display them in:

feel free to PIN this image below for the whole tutorial!



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