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How to Make Decorative Marquee Letters

Maker Jimmy DiResta and Kevin O’Connor made these channel letters on an episode of Ask This Old House

Step 1

STEP 1: Trace the Letters

Trace the chosen letters onto a piece of plywood.

This step begins in the video at 0:52.

Step 2

STEP 2: Cut the Letters

Cut out the letters using a band saw or a jigsaw.

This step begins in the video at 1:25.

Step 3

STEP 3: Plan the Lights Pattern

Count out how many lights are on the string lights. With that number in mind, trace out on the letters where each light will be placed, being sure to space them evenly.

This step begins in the video at 1:55.

Step 4

STEP 4: Drill Holes for the Lights

Drill holes for each of the lights and sand the letters thoroughly.

This step begins in the video at 2:11.

Step 5

STEP 5: Make and Attach Wooden Spacers

Cut small spacers out of the remaining plywood. Glue to the back of the letters to allow for space for the wiring.

This step begins in the video at 2:39.

Step 6

STEP 6: Shape and Attach the Flashing

Wrap the flashing around the letters and secure with the hot glue and a nail gun. Use a speed square as a brake when bending the flashing.

This step begins in the video at 2:55.

Step 7

STEP 7: Create Wooden Backing

Cut two pieces of scrap wood the approximate length of the letters.

This step begins (out of order) in the video at 6:40.

Step 8

STEP 8: Prime and Paint the Letters

Prime all the letters with spray paint and allow them to dry. Then, paint the inside of the letters with the desired color.

This step begins in the video at 4:56.

Step 9

STEP 9: Cover the Holes with Painter’s Tape

Flip all the letters upside down and cover the holes with painter’s tape to prevent paint from spraying to the other side.

This step begins in the video at 5:30.

Step 10

STEP 10: Finish Painting the Letters and Backing

Spray paint the outside letters with the desired color. Paint the two pieces of scrap wood for the backing the same color. Allow everything to fully dry.

This step begins in the video at 5:39.

Step 11

STEP 11: Remove the Lightbulbs

Remove all the lightbulbs from the string lights.

This step begins in the video at 5:50.

Step 12

STEP 12: Attach the Lightbulb Sockets to the Letters

With the plug on one end of the letters, hot glue each lightbulb socket into each hole in a logical manner. Once the sockets are all in place, secure each connection with silicone caulking.

This step begins in the video at 5:54.

Step 13

STEP 13: Attach the Lightbulbs

Screw all the lightbulbs back in place.

This step begins in the video at 6:30.

Step 14

STEP 14: Attach the Letters to the Backing

Secure the two backer pieces to the spacers on the letters with wood screws and a hand screwdriver. To make it easier, you can predrill the holes with a drill.

This step begins in the video at 6:45.