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How to Make DIY Marquee Letters

DIY Marquee Letters are a fun DIY project, perfect for birthdays, home decor and more!


Been thinking about what you can make to dress up your boring wall. Maybe you want to personalize a space or need unique signage for a party? Then you've come in the right place.

DIY Marquee Letters have become super popular because they're cheap – you can basically use excess wood lying around in your backyard or buy cardboard letters and personalize to your heart's content! However, if you need a little more guidance read on for step-by-step directions on how to create this DIY.

How to Make DIY Marquee Letters

I will show you two ways to make DIY Marquee Letters – using wood and cardboard letters.

Using wood:

(If you are comfortable using power tools, then this version is for you.)

You will need:

  • 1 sheet of 16″ x 24″ x 3/4″ thick pine wood or any choice of wood
  • Cutting mat
  • 25 bulb string lights
  • Power jig saw
  • Power drill
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun
  • Metal ruler (preferably the kind with cork on the underside to prevent slipping)
  • Box Knife
  • 8″ aluminum flashing (cut down to 3″ strips)
  • 3/8″ drill bit
  • 5/16″ spade bit
  • Can of white spray paint
  • Painting masks
  • Sand paper

Let the work begin!

Step 1: Draw the letters or shapes

Choose your lettering style and font. You have two options at this point. If you are comfortable freehand drawing the font design, do it. If you want something to trace, use your printer to print out a full size version of the image.  Use a pencil to mark the starting places for cutting out the center of a shape/letter.

Step 2: Cut out the letters or shapes

  • Secure the wood on a table with clamps (or have another person help you)
  • Use a jig saw to cut out the letters
  • If you have letters with a hole in the center (like the letter ‘D’) use an 3/8″ drill bit to drill starter holes so the jig saw can cut out the center

Step 3: Sand the letters or shapes

  • Sand your letters or shapes to remove rough edges and splinters

Step 4: Paint the letters or shapes

  • Paint letters a desired color. We recommend using spray paint since its the quickest method, but you can use any kind of paint that is compatible with wood.
  • Avoid breathing in toxins by using respirator masks.

Step 5: Drill holes for the lights (optional)

  • Use a pencil to mark where you’ll need to drill holes for the lights. If you’re doing multiple letters or symbols, make sure to balance the light bulb placement.
  • Use a 5/16″ spade bit to drill your holes
  • Lightly sand the inside of the drilled holes.

Step 6: Cut the flashing (optional)

  • Roll your letter or shape along the flashing until it comes back to the start.
  • Use the box knife blade to make a mark where you stopped.
  • Lining up your mark with a ruler, use your box knife to score (i.e., slice, but not all the way through) the flashing several times along the mark.
  • Bend from the reverse side and back until it pops in half.
  • Measure out 3 inches and make several marks along the length of the flashing.
  • Using a ruler and a box knife, score the length of the flashing along the several 3-inch markers you just made.
  • Carefully flip it over and fold the metal. Put a ruler at the edge so you don’t bend or warp the metal.
  • Starting at the bottom of your letter, make a mark with your box knife where you should make a bend at the end of your metal strip (preferably with a ruler to avoid warping the metal).
  • Line up the front of your letter or shape 2 inches back from the edge of the flashing.
  • Staple the flashing along the edges of the wood.
  • Mark your next bend and repeat this process until the perimeter is completely stapled. Use scissors to cut off any excess flashing.
  • When all edges are stapled, crease the corners.
  • Use clear tape to align inside corners.

Step 7: Install string lights (optional)

  • Remove all of the bulbs from the string of lights and place the bulbs somewhere safe (they are VERY delicate so be careful to  not bonk them on anything!).
  • Plan out the direction you are going to run the lights and begin inserting the sockets into each corresponding hole.
  • Screw in the bulbs.

Plug in & enjoy your hard work! It'll light up your day!


Another way to make your very own Marquee Letters is by using cardboard letters.

Using cardboard

You will need:

  • cardboard letters
  • clear globe string lights
  • X-acto knife
  • pencil and paper
  • spray paint of choice

Step 1

Use an X-acto knife to cut along the seam of the back side of each letter.

Step 2

Pull off the back piece and remove any cardboard pieces from inside the letters.

Step 3

Determine where you want each light to go on your letters, and draw a small dot for each bulb.

(This is probably the hardest part of the whole process, which isn’t that difficult — it just takes a little bit of planning and measuring.  Use a ruler to help you make sure your lights are evenly spaced.)

Unscrew a light bulb from the backing and trace around the smallest end of the bulb with a pencil and paper.

Step 4

Use the template you just created to draw a circle over each dot you drew on the cardboard letters. You want it to be just big enough for the bottom of the bulb to fit through.

Step 5

Use an X-acto knife to cut an asterisk inside each circle, then punch through the circle using a pen or screwdriver (something about the size of the circle). Make sure your light bulb will fit snugly inside the cavity

Spray paint the letters and let them dry completely. Place a light bulb in each hole and screw on the backing, connecting the letters as you go. (I started with the L, then the G, then finished with the W). Tuck the wires inside the cardboard and use the clips on the lights to secure the wires, if necessary. If your lights do not have clips, you can tape the wires in place as well.

And there you go! You now have your own DIY Marquee Letters!


Checkout this useful video tutorial here.

Did you enjoy our post on DIY Marquee Letters? Let us know in the comments section below!

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