DIY: Marquee ampersand light

DIY: Marquee ampersand light

by guest blogger Daniel Parry

WHAT YOU’LL NEED: 

  • Aluminum flashing
  • Chisel
  • Christmas lights
  • Counter sink
  • Drill + bits
  • Finishing nails
  • Gloves (to handle cut flashing)
  • Hammer
  • Jigsaw
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tin snips
  • Wood (I used 3/4 inch plywood)
  • Letter shape (I used an alternate ampersand from Ale Paul’s Sugar Pie typeface.)

STEP ONE

Print out letter template. I used Adobe Illustrator to print the outline of the letter tiled on multiple pages. Tape together the pages and cut out the letter shape.

STEP TWO

Using the paper template, trace your letter shape onto the material of choice. I used a 3/4-inch piece of plywood sitting around in my garage. (It was dirty, which gave it a nice distressed look.)

STEP THREE

Cut out your shape using a jigsaw.

STEP FOUR

Cut out small paper circles and arrange them onto your freshly cut wood to mark where you’d like to have the light bulbs.

STEP FIVE

Drill the appropriate hole on the front of the wood to fit the ‘screw’ part of the bulb, but not so big the part it screws into will fit all the way through. I used larger, round matte frosted bulbs to give it a vintage Vegas-style look.

STEP SIX

Use a spade drill bit (or whatever works best) to drill a hole on the back of your material big enough to fit the wire portion of what the bulb screws into. Make the hole deep enough to tightly screw the bulb in without breaking through to the other side (I had to leave around 1/4 to 1/8 inch). Test out your lights. At this point, you can leave it as is if you like how it looks — the only drawback is having the wires show.

STEP SEVEN

Start your flashing anywhere you feel comfortable and measure the length to the nearest bend. Once you have the measurement, mark the bend with a Sharpie and a 90-degree angle. You should also probably figure out the full length of flashing you’ll need — you can put masking tape along the entire edge for a good measurement — and cut it using your tin snips to length. Make sure you leave yourself at least a foot allowance for any mishaps.

STEP EIGHT

Using a rubber mallet and chisel, score the flashing along the line. Bend the flashing at the score line.

STEP NINE

Check your measurements on the letter and nail along the middle of the flashing to secure the bend in place.

STEP TEN

Check your measurements on the letter. Now measure from this last corner/bend to your next corner/bend and repeat the last couple steps until you’ve gone all the way around the letter. The last joint that lines up with the beginning should be cut slightly longer, so you can bend about 1/4 to 1/5 inch at the end to avoid leaving a sharp edge.

STEP ELEVEN

If you’d like to mount the letter to the wall you can screw in some 90-degree angles and tie some wire (like you would for a painting) and use that to mount the letter. 

Profile photo of Fairgoods
Fairgoods is an online shop that sells type and fun gifts that use that type.

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