How to Make Your Own…Giant Light Up Letters

Just in case your guests forget who’s wedding they are at, why not have a (not so) subtle reminder in the form of giant flashy light letters in the shape of your initials?!

OK, they might not be up to Moulin Rouge levels of glamour, but they can be made pretty easily by anyone with a bit of DIY spirit in their heart. The best thing is – they are personalised and bespoke to you, and that makes them special. Just like you (eeek, that was cheesy).

The letters you see above were made by my very hands…whilst holding a drill and jigsaw. If you’ve no idea what those words mean, this might be more DIY than you’re willing go. If you embrace power tools and a lick of elbow grease, read on…

Step 1: Draw Out and Cut Your Letters

The first step to making the letters is to figure out what size wooden board you’ll be cutting the letters from. We used one sheet of plywood from B&Q, which was 1.2m x 2.4m and 18mm thick. Quite big, you might be thinking. But these are giant letters, so they need a giant bit of wood!

Transporting such a large sheet of wood is tricky for most of us, so take advantage of the in-store cutting service. They will put the sheet on their magical saw machine (they probably call it something much less exciting) and they will cut it to your requirements. The cuts must be straight and all the way through the sheet, so unfortunately you won’t be able to ask them to cut a “D and H please”, but at least you can get the overall size right.

Before you go to the hardware store, draw your letters out on a piece of paper so you have your dimensions ready. The image below shows the dimensions we used for our D and H letters, and also the strips needed for the legs.

As you can see, it’s looking a bit like the start of an IKEA chest of drawers (perhaps called Weddo?). There are 6 different parts, which we’ve handily numbered for you:

1. H (obviously)
2. D (also obv)
3. The legs (8 in total)
4. The lower leg braces (2 in total)
5. The upper leg braces (4 in total)
6. The hinge brackets (4 in total)

Ideally you’ll want the saw cutter operator dude/dudette to cut all these pieces out for you. You may have to bribe them with a cookie to get them to cut all the parts, but it will be worth it! It’s much more fun watching someone else cut the wood than doing it yourself.

Take your sketch along with all the dimensions.You can use the template above, and just replace the H and the D with your own initials, but keep within the same dimensions. Admittedly, if you have a name beginning with M or W, it might be a bit squished, so you could just get an extra sheet of wood just so you can fit an extra wide letter on.

Step 2: Cut the Holes for Your Lights

The number of holes will obviously depend on how many bulbs you have. We used a set of Festoon Lights which we attached to the back of the letters. The holes were 5cm in diameter – just big enough to fit the bulb through, and spaced about 12cm apart. There are 20 bulbs on these festoon lights, hence we have 20 holes per letter. You will also want to get the Battery Box which will allow you to place the lights wherever you want and not have to worry about finding a plug socket. With these particular lights you’ll need one battery box per letter.

To drill the holes you’ll need a 5cm Hole Cutter attachment for your drill.

You will have to finish off the details of the letters, such as the curved bits on the D and the cut out bits on the H, using a jigsaw. Again, if you’re not able to do this yourself, ask a family member/friend/neighbour/celebrity to do it for you.

So after a lot of cutting, drilling and sweating, you should have your letters and legs all cut out and ready for assembly. If you’ve actually reached this stage – congratulations, you’re a DIY star! Give yourself a pat on the back and take 5 for a cup of tea, and possibly a biscuit/slice of cake.

Step 3: Assemble Your Legs

Now for some assembly work! The diagram below shows the leg assembly – numbers match up with those we used to identify the parts earlier.

So, what you need to do is make a little sandwich type thing, with items 4 and 5 in the middle of the legs (you’ll need two of item 3 for each leg). Screw through the legs and items 4 and 5 as shown below to make a nice strong pair of legs.

Next, get a pair of hinges (something reasonably heavy duty) and attach them to the top corner of the hinge brackets (item 6). Before you go any further, drill two holes in the hinge brackets (item 6) near the edges (see the diagram above) – this will allow you to screw them to the letters. Finally, screw the hinges to the legs, 6cm down from the top. This little gap of 6cm is important as it allows the hinge to open up, but not so far that the letters will just collapse.

Step 4: Attach the Legs to the Letters

Next up, you’ll want to attach the legs to the letters, which you can do by screwing through the holes you drilled in the hinge brackets. Place the legs on the back of the letters (double check before you screw them down – it would be all too easy to fix them on the front of the letters by mistake!).

The position of the legs is important as it will dictate the angle and stability of the letters. Too high and the whole thing will get knocked over really easily. Too low and the letter will be angled back too far and look silly. We have the hinge bracket 92cm from the bottom of the letters, which looks about right. Obviously you want to avoid covering over the light bulb holes such that you wouldn’t be able to fit the light bulb through, so adjust the position a little bit if you need to.

Hooray, you now have a pair of lovely legs (swit swoo!). Make two sets of these in total – one for each letter.

Once you’ve got both letters all legged up, you can stand back and admire your handy work. Amazing!

Step 5: Fix the Lights to the Letters

I suppose you could decide to just stop there – but light up letters without the lights are, well, just letters. It’s time to bring a bit of sparkle to your wedding day!

If you bought the festoon lights that we used, it’s pretty easy to fix them in position. You just need some cable clips. Make sure to get the right size for the cable on your lights – we used these 11mm cable clipswhich provided just the right amount of grip on the cable to stop the lights moving around.

Before you grab your hammer and go nuts, lay the front of the letters face down on some supports such that there’s enough space for the light bulbs to poke through. Next, lay out your lights and drop them in the holes so the cable is on the back of the letters. Think about where you’ll put the battery box if you have one – as you can see from the photo below, we fixed it to the lower edge. Once you’ve positioned the battery box, start fixing the bulbs in place with a cable clip either side of the hole. Work your way round each bulb until everything is nice and securely in place.

Step 6: The Moment of Truth!

Now, for the moment of truth! Stand the letters up and flick the switch! Woooooo, look at those fancy lights. The battery pack we used has multiple flashing modes, so you can play with that till your heart’s content – just don’t waste all the batteries yet!

On the subject of batteries, we found that the 4 D batteries per light lasted all evening, so from around 8 till midnight (obviously only turn them on when it gets dark!).

One additional tip – if you’re worried about the letters getting knocked over you could hang a weight on the the leg support brace. We used a hessian bag filled with sand (otherwise known as a sand bag!), which worked really well.

There you go – well done if you actually made your own light up letters! Please send us photos if you did, we think it would be beyond cool to see more of these in the wild. Oh, and if you really wanted you could customise the colours and all sorts – amazeballs!

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Happy planning!


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DeanHow to Make Your Own…Giant Light Up Letters

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