Thursday, February 4, 2016

DIY wedding vow wood panel boards

For Valentine's Day this year Jon and I had agreed not to do anything for each other. However, I quickly had an idea for some wall art for our bedroom that would honestly be a gift for us both and decided to pursue it. Not one to be able to keep exciting ideas from Jon, I quickly updated him what I was going to do to gauge his interest in it: I was going to make 3 separate wooden wall panels to hang on the wall our bed was against (which is currently long and bare). One panel would have his wedding vows, one would have mine, and one for the middle would be more of a decorative way to incorporate our wedding date. He loved the idea as much as I did so I quickly got to work! I had to contact the pastor who married us since I couldn't find a copy of our vows in my gmail anywhere--thankfully he still had a copy of them! Thanks, Pastor Dan!--as well as my friend Cristina, who makes and sells wooden art for pointers.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of how to do this yourself, here is how the decorative panel turned out!

So how do you do this yourself? It was surprisingly easy and just took some time and patience!

First, figure out how big you want your sign(s). I landed on 16"x24" each. After perusing Home Depot's website to see what size boards they offered, I opted to get a single 1"x8"x12' piece of wood. This piece was about $15 and cut down into nine 16" sections--exactly what I needed to make 3 wall signs comprised of 3 sections each. You can ask them to cut it for you, which I did. The first 4 cuts are free and any cut after that is $0.25, although they didn't charge me for the extras. Be warned these cuts are imperfect and I ended up needing to trim 2 boards to match a 3rd random shorter board. In my case it worked out as the shorter sign was what I used for the decorative embellishments.

Once your wood is cut, sand down any rough edges. If you want to distress it you can hit it with a hammer, scrape it, etc. I didn't do any of this, but I did follow this tutorial. Essentially, you soak steel wool in apple cider vinegar for half an hour and rub it on the boards. I followed that up with balsamic vinegar and steel wool before the apple cider vinegar had dried. Then I left the boards out to dry completely for a few days. Here's the difference in purchased wood vs. vinegar distressed wood:
Once this part was done, I had to play with the layout for the text. Essentially, you determine what you want to have on your board, print it out in the appropriate size (in my case I did the design in PowerPoint where I was able to make the slide size 16"x24" and play with the fonts I liked. Saved the PowerPoint as a pdf and then used Adobe Reader to print the slide out in tile format...this allowed me to cut and tape together my template for tracing). I got the Mr. and Mrs. font from here.
To join the boards together, Cristina uses a jig pocket hole system like this one. This allows you to screw 4 screws--2 on each side--into the boards at an angle. Such a system allows you to hang the panels flush with the wall instead of joining the boards together with another piece of wood or some other mechanism. There are alternatives if you don't want to invest in a pocket hole jig, some simple Googling should help you out.
Once the boards were screwed together, it was time to start tracing! Once you have the template in the desired position on your board, tape the top of the template down with painter's tape. After you have finished that, you can slide transfer paper behind the template, graphite side facing the wood, and use a pen to trace your design or letters. Once the tracing is complete, remove the transfer paper and stencil and use Sharpie Paint Pens to fill in the design. In the case of this board I used fine point pens although I probably could have used a thicker tip.

This project cost me about $35 total for 3 different signs. It certainly helps that I was able to use Cristina's pocket hole jig, but if this is something you plan on doing a lot of it might be worth investing in one for yourself!

You guys. I am not crafty by nature and I am easily frustrated by art. This was the easiest and most therapeutic craft I have ever encountered. It certainly helped that I had a pro to help me along the way, but the biggest challenge of this project is taking the time to do it. I have to finish the boards with our vows on them still, but I was way too excited about this project to wait on those to share this tutorial. When I finish the vow boards I will make another post with all 3 side by side, the way they will be on our wall!

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