Metal Edge Marquee DIY

Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) One of my favorite things to DIY are light-up marquee signs. We’ve certainly done our fair share of glowing signs here on ABM (from Christmas marquees and light up boxes to emoji and happy hour signs), but I’ve never had the chance to do a more traditional looking marquee with the thin raised metal edge. The best thing about making your own marquee from scratch (rather than starting with letters already cut out) is that you can make your word size and font completely custom. I love having options! I tried a few different methods to get that classic look but was having trouble finding a material that would bend without a lot of effort. Thankfully I found a tip from this DIY post to use metal flashing for the sides instead, and I was saved! Unfortunately, I’ve recently switched over to a new photo organization system, and I lost a few of my step photos in the process (D’OH!). So I’ll do my best to explain and point out what I did on the finished sign.

Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) Supplies:
-3/4″ wooden board big enough to trace your desired size onto
-jigsaw
-drill
hole saw drill bit large enough to fit your string lights
6″ wide roof flashing (I used two rolls)
-metal cutting shears
-staple gun
-gold and white paint
-globe string lights
-extension cord
-epoxy glue that works for wood and metal
-leather working gloves (optional)

Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) First I decided what phrase and font I wanted to use and traced the phrase onto a wooden board at the appropriate size. I used a transparency sheet and a projector to do so, but you could also freehand draw it or print the phrase on an inexpensive blueprint print and trace it from that onto the wood.

Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) Once it was traced, I used my jigsaw to cut out the wooden phrase. To get into spaces like the middle of the”O”, I would drill a hole big enough for the jigsaw blade to fit into so I could start from that hole and cut around.

Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) After the wood was cut, I marked off where I wanted the holes to be drilled for the lights and used a hole saw bit at each spot. I like to have my lights picked out before I drill holes so I know just how big the hole should be.

Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) Once all your holes are drilled, use the metal shears to cut your 6″ wide roof flashing down the center so you have two long 3″ strips. It’s possible that the strip can be a little sharp (especially on the side you cut), so you may want to use leather working gloves when handling the strips. I decided to forgo the gloves and only got a few small scratches, but it was easier to manipulate the metal without gloves.

Now comes the tedious part. Starting wherever you like on the outside of your wooden phrase, measure how far you need to go before the metal needs to turn in or out to follow the path of the letters. Make a mark and bend the metal the appropriate way. Then measure where the next bend should be and so on and so forth. While you can try to make each strip as long as possible, I would usually cut the strip off whenever the wood would move to the next letter or come together in a narrow spot and start again with a new piece. It seemed easier to work with shorter pieces and the two cut ends actually come together pretty well and look rather seamless once complete. The hardest part is making the little pieces that go inside of the “B” and “R”—that took a few tries! I marked the inside of each piece with a little description of where the piece belonged (like “top of first O”) so I would know where they went later.

Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) Once all the pieces were bent and cut, I held each piece in place and used a staple gun to attach the metal to the wooden side (it’s helpful to have a second person help you with this part). I also made marks on the inside of each metal piece that were 1.5″ from the top edge of the metal and lined up that mark with the wood sign so all pieces were attached at a uniform spot around the sign.

Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) I found I could attach most of the metal with the staple gun, but there were a few crevices (like between the legs of the “N” or middle of the “O”) where I couldn’t angle in the staple gun and had to use glue instead to attach them. I would attach the glue between the metal and the wood and then stick tin foil between the crevices to hold the metal against the wood until it dried. Once dry, I removed the tin foil, added two long loops of picture wire to the back of the sign for hanging purposes, and I was ready to paint the sign!

Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial)I sprayed the outside and inside metal edge with gold spray paint and then used a brush to paint the inside wood base of the sign white for contrast.

Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) Once the paint was dry, I wove my bulb light wires across the back of my frame and installed the bulbs from the front. It’s helpful to use a few small zip ties to keep all those wires a bit more organized on the back side so they don’t stick out and become visible. I plugged my bulb lights into an extension cord so that would be what actually hung down from the light and I was ready to hang my new marquee!

Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) Metal edge marquee DIY in whatever font or phrase you want! (click through for tutorial) As you can imagine, this was definitely not the fastest project I’ve ever completed, but it was so worth the extra time it took. The gold and white look so sharp together, and the font gives it a modern feel as well (it’s one of the italicized Function Pro bold fonts). Marquees are still one of my favorite things to make, so I’m glad to have another technique that creates a new look under my belt! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • Wow, Laura, I have been wanting to make one like this since forever! Thanks for sharing!
    But I have to say that the elecrical part still looks a bit of a mystery for me. I am afraid to burn my place down hehehehe

  • I will definitely be trying this out!! Thank you so much for the tips!! This so much better than buying pre made letters. LOVE LOVE LOVE

  • WOW ! It looks amazing. Thanks for the tutorial I was wondering how to make these. I want to make one in my favourite word KJEMPEFLOTT which is Norwegian for amazing, but I think it maybe a bit long so perhaps I should stick to a simple WOW!

  • I used a string of lights like the one linked in the supply list, you can buy bigger bulbs that that if you want to 🙂

    Laura

  • It’s a target desk with chasing paper removable wallpaper 🙂

    Laura

  • It’s a target desk with chasing paper removable wallpaper and an urban outfitters lamp 🙂

    laura

  • WOW. Would love it if you could check out my new post on how to plan happiness in 2016!
    Kisses xo | From Aliona With Love 

  • Love love love! Thank goodness my husband is super handy! I can totally have him make me something like this 🙂
    xo dré

    www.flightoffeather.com

  • What a gorgeous marquee! It makes me wish I had access to power tools again so I could make one! This could easily be made for graduation parties, holiday celebrations, or like you did and just hung up on the wall for day-to-day decor. I absolutely love it! What kind of light bulbs did you use? Did you create the wiring yourself, or was it pre-made? Either way, it’s awesome! Thank you for sharing your DIY with us!

    Julie~FurnishMyWay

  • Wow – great job! It looks really great when it’s lit up! I also love that you used a projector and transperency sheet for this. I’ve been looking for one for ages (not really for ages – off and on over the years when I happen to remember wanting one), but if I were to find one, I’m not sure I’d know where to store it! http://www.enchantinglyemily.com

  • That polka spot desk is melting my heart! where’d you find it? And the DIY looks killer- nice work!

  • This is incredible! It’s fun, yet sophisticated, and the execution looks flawless. Better than what you could buy in a store. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • such an amazing idea
    I looove it so much 😀 and it actually looks pretty easy to do 😉 very cool

  • Amazing DIY! Thanks for sharing! I’m definitely going to make a glowing sign for my studio. 😀

    xx Elena http://www.talonsetbonbons.com

  • What a great tutorial!
    I’d give it a go if I could decide what word to use!
    I’d also need to invest in a few bits of equipment!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Helen

    www.jumblebug.co.uk

  • Hi Laura, great project! I know this is a side note, but I’m curious about your photo organization systems. Maybe a future post…? Cheers!

  • Not hard at all! Just take all the bulbs off and stick the sockets into the holes starting at one end until all the holes have a light in them. You’ll connect as many light strands as you need to have one light for each hole and it will look super messy on the back. Use the zip ties to bundle wires as needed so they don’t stick out the sides 🙂

    Laura

  • This looks so awesome and I love the font you chose! Maybe one day I’ll muster the patience to give this a go haha!

    Jess xo

  • I can’t believe this was handmade! It looks awesome when it’s hung up~ If only I had the patience and resources xD

  • It simply looks amazing, I do love marquee lights so much and I always wanted such a sign in my apartment. Looks so professional!
    https://www.makeandmess.com/

  • I love it so muuchhh!!
    http://soldenochedecocrochet.blogspot.com.ar/

  • well done Laura! i am a total wuss when it comes to power tools. great motiviation here to try new things. thanks!

  • Can’t even believe the patience this must’ve taken! Very cute but I could never muster up the willpower.

    http://eliseandthomas.com/

  • I loved it! When the lights are on it’s incredibly cute!
    And also, this table is SO COOL. Loved 🙂
    Laura you are so talented!

    http://www.loveandeverythingblog.com

  • It’s a really cool idea! I would like it thinner but the concept in perfect.

    Check out my new post, and get a first view on the next 2016 Fashion Trends – A post inspired on some of the greatest spring-summer ad campaigns.
    www.mgluxurynews.com/posts

    Have a wonderful year! Bests, María.

  • This is AMAZING!! like I think I need this for my future house, just trying to think of other words I could use, hmmm.. Tres chic in a swirly handwritten font above a dressing table mirror would be cute, and might give good lighting for a selfie, haha!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Grace Nicole
    X

    www.gracenicoleblog.wordpress.com

  • Wow this is awesome! I always wanted to make my own and now you showed me the perfect instructions 🙂

    Definitely a part of my bucket list for 2016!

    Jill

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