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Metal Letters

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Wrap wooden letters with pieces of copper or aluminum for bold decorating accessories you can display on a shelf or hang on a wall.

Letters in aluminum flashing

Project Overview

Skill Level

Intermediate

Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost

$$$$$

Tools & Materials

Tools

  • Jigsaw and fine-tooth blade
  • Drill and 3/8-in bit
  • Tin snips
  • Hammer and nail set
  • Scratch awl
  • Clamps
  • Leather gloves
  • Wood glue

Materials

  • 23/32 x 4 x 4 plywood, #7711
  • 8-in x 20-ft copper flashing, #367411
  • 10-in x 10-ft aluminum flashing, #366892
  • 3 - 3/4-in x 17-gauge copper nails (for copper)
  • 3 - 3/4-in cut tacks (for aluminum)
  • Miracle-Gro All-Purpose Plant Food (for copper)
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP) cleaner (for copper)
  • Powdered cleanser (Bar Keeper’s Friend) (for copper)
  • Vinegar (for copper)
  • Spray bottle (for copper)
  • Valspar clear satin spray paint (for copper)

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Project Resources

Instructions

You can make these metal-covered letters using either copper or aluminum as shown. Galvanized steel sheets also work, but are harder to bend and nail. Choose the nails to complement your choice of metal.

Add a Copper Patina

Step 1

For a copper finish, you can leave the copper as is and allow it to weather naturally, or speed up the process with the following technique. Cut strips of copper flashing and clean thoroughly with TSP and a scrubbing pad until water stops beading on the surface.

Step 2

Mix 1 teaspoon of Miracle-Gro All-Purpose Plant Food, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, and 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Thoroughly spray one side of each copper strip. Let dry and repeat until the copper turns the color you prefer.

Good to Know

After cutting and nailing copper pieces in place, you can spray an optional clear finish on the completed letter to protect the patina.

Assemble the Letters

Step 1

Download Metal Letter Patterns and print only the letters of your choice. Transfer the pattern to a piece of plywood and use a jigsaw with a fine-tooth blade to cut out the letter. Lay the plywood letter on a second piece of plywood, trace the shape, and cut out a copy of the letter. Then glue and clamp the two halves together for a letter about 1-7/16 inches thick.

Good to Know

To cut out openings in letters such as P, R, or O, drill a 3/8-inch hole in the waste area near the pattern line to insert your jigsaw blade.

Step 2

From the copper or aluminum sheathing, cut about 20 pieces in a variety of sizes. Cut a few larger pieces (3 x 3 inches and 3 x 4 inches) for the front and some longer but narrower rectangles (roughly 1-1/2 x 4-1/2 inches) to wrap around the edges front to back. You can always recut the larger pieces to fit as needed.

Good to Know

Pieces of flashing may have sharp edges and corners. Wear leather work gloves when handling them.

Step 3

Begin by centering and nailing the long, narrow rectangles around the edges. Overlap the strips as you go. For curved edges, use narrower rectangles to follow the shape.

Good to Know

For some sheathing, especially where layers overlap, start each hole by first hammering an awl through the metal and into the plywood. Then drive the nail.

Step 4

With the edges covered, begin nailing squares and rectangles to the front. Overlap pieces to cover the wood surface.

Step 5

Weathered copper letters

If necessary, crease the strips that wrap around the edges by lightly pressing the metal with the side of the awl or round shank of a screwdriver. This may be necessary to help the letter stand upright.

Good to Know

If you plan to hang the letter from a wall, find the balance point where the letter hangs level and center a self-leveling picture hanger on the back. Nail it in place and hang the letter.