homemade diy wooden letterboard
DIY Projects

DIY Letter Board

I have been stalking the letter board sites on Instagram and Etsy like a panther stalks it’s prey. I wanted one so badly. But Geez Louise, to get a big-ish one, you’ve got to shell out nearly $200.

I don’t know what your decorating budget is, but mine laughed at me when I even considered it. The more I looked at them, though, the more I realized how incredibly easy it would be to make one myself. So I headed off to the craft store in search of supplies.

Use a clearance sign for a cheap frame option    Clearance sign for a cheap frame for projects

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Creative With Your Frame

The most expensive part of making a letter board is definitely the frame. Especially if you wanted to make a large one. After walking up and down the aisle and realizing the size I wanted with a solid wood frame was nearly $50 on it’s own, I almost left and gave up on the whole idea altogether. But somehow I ended up on the clearance aisle (as we always do in Hobby Lobby) and I found this beauty.

Now the sign on it’s own, I’d never use. Not exactly my style I guess. But the size was right, the frame was perfect, and the frame board was sunken in just enough. Oh and it was under $4. YES.

   

Wooden Dowels for Letter Board at Hobby Lobby

Wooden Dowels Are Always Cheap

With my super cheap budget score in hand, I headed over to the unfinished wood crafting aisle. I chose the 0.187 inch wide dowels. I like the skinniness of them, and I thought they would fit into the frame without sticking out. I also picked up a quarter of a yard of black felt and some black acrylic craft paint to cover up that white background.

All in all, the frame was $4, two packs of dowels (on sale for 50% off) were $3, the felt was about $3, and the paint was $.47. Out the door for a little over ten buckaroonies.

***Full supply list at the bottom of this post***

How to make a DIY Letter Board

Trim Dowels

To start the project, I measured the distance inside the frame and cut the dowels to size. They were originally 12 inches long, so I trimmed them up with a circular saw. You can also use a jig saw if that’s all you have, or even a plain Jane hand saw, but you’ll need another brave victim to help hold them still.

How to make a Felt Letter Board

Cut Felt Into Strips

Now it’s time to get to cuttin’. Oh. My. Goodness. Y’all. Cutting felt is hard!

It’s super thick and scissors are definitely felt’s foe. I had originally planned to get my son to help me out, but after blistering my hand up pretty quickly, I decided he should hang back and watch some more Teen Titans while Mom destroys her mitts. I highly suggest wearing some gardening gloves while cutting your strips.

Just cut them in strips wide enough to go around the dowels. You don’t have to be extremely precise, just a rough guess will do. I cut strips for a while, then glued for a while, then cut more as needed.

Make a letter board with felt and dowels

Wrap The Dowels

So for this project, a high temperature hot glue gun is your secret weapon. Just run a strip of hot glue down one edge of the felt, plop the dowel on it, then run another strip down the other side, and roll it together.

Just a note, you need a LOT of glue sticks. I think I went through around 12-14 sticks. Good thing I buy them in big packs when they’re on sale and always have a bunch on hand! Just be prepared.

Also be prepared that covering the dowels takes a bit of time, too. Pop in Beauty and the Beast, set up a station in front of the TV, and glue & roll as you sing along with Belle.

Make a DIY Letter Board

Glue Dowels Onto The Frame Backing

Here’s where it starts to come together. Every time you finish covering a dowel with felt, run a strip of hot glue onto your board/frame backing. Then attach the dowel onto the board before covering the next dowel.

I have found that this is the best method because you can’t really tell exactly how many you’re going to need to cover the entire board. By doing them one at a time, you save yourself the time of possibly covering too many dowels and wasting a lot of hot glue. In a project like this, hot glue is precious.

How to make a DIY Letter Board

Squeeze The Dowels In Tightly

The trick to making this work like the ones sold on Etsy is packing in the dowels really tightly. You want each dowel to be best buds with it’s surrounding dowels. Jammed in tight like a can of sardines. I’ve never actually opened a can of sardines, but it’s a common phrase so I assume they’re in there pretty close together. Correct me if I’m wrong, sardine connoisseurs. 🙂

The other trick is painting the backing black (or whatever color felt you’re using) so you can’t see it in the cracks. No matter how tightly you pack the dowels in, a white backing will show through. Not cute.

Letter Board Project

Clean Up Time!

By the time the Beast turns back into a man (spoiler alert to those who’ve lived under a rock for 40 years) you’ll have something like this! Yes, there are hot glue stringies all over the place. And yes, the edges look horrendous. Okay, go ahead and say it, this thing is a hot mess…

DIY Letter Board

I introduce to you, my friend, the Lint Roller.

This rockstar can pull off all the big bad stringies in no time.

diy letter board

And how ’bout my other friend, the Toothpick?

This super high-tech tool can instantly pop all those felt edges under the frame and out of sight. These two make a pretty good team, I think.

DIY Letter Board on a Budget with this tutorial from In The New House Designs

Hang It Up

And ta-da! It’s gorgeous! And it looks just like those $200 pretties online.

Aside from the time it took to make it, and the burnt fingers from hot glue overages, I’d definitely recommend this to anyone on a budget. Or for all of you who love a good DIY. This was definitely a fun project, and well worth it in the end.

Letter Board Letter Storage

Letter Tip

I picked up some letters for the board on Amazon, tried them out, hated them, then ordered more. The second set, this one, works better, but a few of them still fall out. I think it’s just because the little peg is so short. But according to reviews, every letter set available has the same problem. Lela To The Rescue! I figured out a fancy schmancy way to keep them on…

**Sidenote, that little box I have them stored in is a cheap-o $2 sewing organizer box.**

How to make letter board letters stay in

Yep, plain old clear tape. I wrapped a little Scotch tape around the peg to make it longer, trimmed it to the length it should be, and the letters are snug as a bug in a rug. No more falling out!

Star Wars Quote on DIY Letter Board

Here’s the finished sign! My hubby and son are big Star Wars fans, so I guess our letter board will be filled with movie quotes from now on… Oh well, I can handle that. For now.

Read More: DIY Bar Cart Upcycle

Supply List

Frame with backing, glass removed, if applicable

0.187 or 3/16 inch wooden dowels

Black felt

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Black paint and sponge brush

1 inch letters (I used these from Amazon, and I haven’t seen them for sale anywhere else yet)

Scotch tape

Circular saw, jigsaw, or hand saw

Good quality fabric scissors

Patience. Lots of it.

Your Turn!

What do you think? Would you rather make your own Letter Board or buy one pre-made instead? I’d love to hear your opinions below. And if you try it out, leave a photo of your finished product in the Tried It section of the Pinterest Pin so I can see!

Want more craft ideas? Check out all my DIY projects here!

This post contains affiliate links. These links are my recommended products for completing this project, and if purchased, a small amount is commissioned to me at no extra cost to you. These affiliate links help me continue creating more awesome DIY projects and keep the blog up and running. Thank you for supporting In The New House Designs!

22 Comments

  1. THANK YOU! (Yes, I am shouting, with excitement!) I have been scouring the ‘net looking for a solution for “loose letter board letters, etc.” Nothing comes up for the issue specifically. I recently purchased an oversized gold set that I love, but hate that not a single one stays in although I bought the board and letters from the same location and they are the same brand! I suggest you tag your solution works perfectly.

    • Lela Burris

      You are so welcome! I know, those letters are so frustrating! It does take some time to wrap the little “tails” with tape, but after you’ve done it once, they’ll stay on pretty well. So glad that was helpful for you!

  2. Donna P Moses

    Yes I was a Packer of sardines into the cans and it depends on each “PACKER” how tight they are packed in ! lol I live where the largest sardine industry is located ! Blacks Harbour New Brunswick Canada

  3. Hi Dianne, the quote is correct as it is. It was probably said by Yoda. Lela I loved the project but could I use a low temp glue gun? I always burn the daylights out of my fingers and get blisters from the high temp one.

    • Thanks Cher! You’re right, it is a Yoda quote, and a good one I think. And yes, a low temp glue gun would work just fine, just be sure you add a little extra to keep the dowels in place.

  4. I loved the project t, and even more, you’re sense of fun, honesty, and humor. Thank you for sharing, it came out great! 🙂

  5. Susan the Farm Quilter

    Great idea! Cutting felt is simple using a rotary cutter and a ruler. Sorry to be so tardy with this amazing news and you had to get blisters on your hands!!!

    • Oh Susan! Although you are a little too late to save my hands that time, I will definitely remember that tip next time I do a project with felt. You are the hero of the day! Thanks so much for sharing that!

  6. ELIZABETH BURKE

    Just to clarify the Star Wars quote….this most likely a Yoda quote. Yoda spins his sayings in rather unique ways he does!

  7. Muriel J Moore

    Although I love yours, and that you are currently quoting movies on it, I think I’ll take a pass on this one. Too many steps for this ADD riddled brain! I understand why they cost so much in stores now.??

    • Yes, after I finished making it I could see why they cost so much to buy! Luckily there are a lot of great options on Etsy and even Amazon if you’re not into DIYing one.

  8. Very cute! One thing I would try when doing this project is keep the felt one piece instead of cutting strips. Then glue each dowel in place and glue the felt to the frame’s backing between each dowel. Do you think that would work? Thanks for the inspiring idea and sense of humor!

    • I read a few different tutorials that had tried that method and they all had a bit of trouble with it’s durability, so I decided to take the long route. But it would definitely be worth the experiment, I think!

  9. What a great job you did! It looks like that took a lot of time and patience so I applaud your project. I found you through my Hometalk.com daily email. You really should put some of your projects on Hometalk because you will get a lot more encouragement.

    • Hi L.S! It definitely took a lot of time, but I really love how it turned out. So happy you found me through Hometalk! I actually do have quite a bit of projects on Hometalk, you can find my profile and project portfolio @inthenewhouse there.

  10. Great idea but , should’nt it read, “wars don’t make one great”.

    • Hi Dianne, it’s actually a quote from a Star Wars movie ?

      • YODA-ism! lol
        Question – another way ? fasten the dowels, slightly spaced apart, supported off from the back of the frame, -lifted? – (does that make sense?) Then STUFF ONE PIECE of felt in between ….?

        NO cutting.
        Less use of glue sticks?
        Just a thought

        • Haha, yes! The guys really enjoyed the yoda quote. And as far as that method, I saw some tutorials online that tried that but they all said they had trouble with the letters that way. Although I had trouble with my letters anyway since their “tails” were so short. It’s worth testing out that way, for sure! The cutting was the hardest part.

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