Hello! Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I wanted to share a love-themed project I’ve been working on. My mother-in-law recently finished chemotherapy treatments for her second bout with breast cancer (Wahoo!), and I wanted to send her something special to celebrate and let her know how much we love her.
I made my sister-in-law’s family their surname in Scrabble tiles for Christmas because their family loves to play games together. Even though names aren’t allowed in Scrabble, it was still a triple word score as a gift. When I showed them to my mother-in-law, she was so excited about them I promised myself I’d make some for her next.
At first I thought it’d be fun to get away from the words like love, laugh, and smile that you see so often. I thought about wink or grin for starters. But in the end I went with love. In the words of Ewan McGregor, “Love is a many splendid thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love.” Does anyone else love Moulin Rouge?
First, I selected a two pieces of cull lumber from the scrap box at Home Depot.
I grabbed two pieces of pine, a 1 x 6 and a 2 x 6, and asked the nice man at Home Depot to cut them into 5 1/2 inch blocks for me. He acted like people ask him to do this sort of thing all the time. They probably do.
The total for the wood came to $1.10, and I walked out of there with sixteen potential letters. I probably only needed one piece—saving me a whopping fifty-one cents!—but I wanted to have enough blocks left over to make some for us sometime. And I didn’t know if I’d like the look of the thinner blocks made from the 1 x 6 or the thicker blocks made from the 2 x 6.
I was making these as a gift for someone else, and I wasn’t trying to be this cheap. The last time I did this project, I bought the wood at full price, which was still under $4 for the 2 x 6. It would have been more for the thinner piece. I just lucked out yesterday that the pieces I needed were in the scrap pile. I also cut the wood myself, which let me sand two surfaces before I made my cuts. But since Home Depot cut it free in the store, it sped up the whole project.
Next came the tedious part. I had to sand every surface. I knew the first word only needed four blocks, and that gave me plenty to sand for one afternoon. I grabbed my Craftsman orbital sander, some protective eye gear, and got to work.
I secured the tiles in a clamp while I sanded the rough edges. Because the pine is so soft, I padded the clamp with a towel to prevent indent makrs on the blocks.
After the sanding, I was able to get out of the freezing garage (this would be a more enjoyable project in the warmer months). I downloaded a free Scrabble font, increased the font size to 400, and printed out the letters I needed.
Next I cut off the excess border and carefully centered the letters on each block. I secured it with painter’s tape, but Scotch tape would work well too. Then I picked up a ballpoint pen and began to trace the letters and numbers. Because the wood is so soft, the pen made a nice indent that I was able to follow with my paint.
At this stage, I got out my black acrylic craft paint, a stiff paint brush, and began to trace my lines. Start with the paint at the edges and then fill in the middle. Be sure to leave the numbers until the end. Painting black paint on untreated wood is NOT forgiving, so be careful not to make mistakes. And if you do, oh well. Turn the block over and start again. My letters aren’t perfect, but they look charming once they’re all done.
It really is that easy and cheap. And I did the whole thing in a day, while juggling children. I want to make some for our fireplace mantle next, or I might spell out my son’s name for his room.
These are the 1 x 6 tiles. The 2 x 6 tiles look more chunky and rustic. I can’t decide which I like better. Let me know if you make some and what words you choose to make.
Thanks for looking.