Every Christmas, millions of people celebrate Christmas without properly embracing the movie A Christmas Story. Isn't it time you helped stop this epidemic? Isn't it time you threw out that weather beaten inflatable garbage decoration and created something that will make your neighbors say, "Dear God, it's beautiful!"
In the text ahead, I will teach you how to embrace your inner Ralphie and create what is possibly the GREATEST CHRISTMAS DECORATION OF ALL TIME!
Ok, well... no probably not. But it will be an original decoration that you can be incredibly proud of. A decoration that won't disintegrate if it is too windy out. A decoration that your children will look at and say, "God you're weird".
So without wasting anymore time, let's begin.
Step 1: Step 1: Meatloaf, Smeatloaf, Double-beatloaf
In order to create something of this magnitude you have two choices:
Choice A: You can win a major award.
If Choice A isn't an option for you, then you should probably consider,
Choice B: Purchase the following items immediately:
- 1 sheet of plywood approximately 2 feet by 4 feet wide. If I had to guess is 1/2 an inch thick. (Home Depot will cut the plywood to size for you, but if you don't want it shaped like a rectangle you will also probably need a jigsaw)
- 4 inch A to Z letter stencils
- A 13/64 Drill Bit (Weird size, but trust me on this)
- A power drill
- A straight edged ruler. I would suggest it be at least 36 inches, although if you have one that is 48 or longer then you won't have to ever lift it.
- A pencil
- A cheap pencil sharpener
- A Sharpie Marker
- A power sander or, some 80 grit sand paper would probably work too.
- One can of Green Spray Paint (I used Rustoleum Painters Touch 2X Ultra Cover Paint + Primer Gloss Meadow Green)
- Two cans of Red Spray Paint (I used Rustoleum Painters Touch 2X Ultra Cover Paint + Primer Gloss Apple Red)
- One can of clear paint sealant.
- Some type of respirator painter's mask.
- As thick as possible blue painter's tape. I think I used 3 inch wide.
- One roll of Delicate blue painters tape. (Has orange center)
- One 150 count box of GE ContantON green mini christmas lights (I didn't buy led kind, not sure if they would fit)
- Four 150 counts boxes of GE ConstantON red mini christmas lights (Same)
- A picture of Ralphie with his Red Ryder, Carbine Action, 200 shot range model air rifle (This is for inspiration)
- A copy of the video game Fallout 4. You are going to need something to do while the paint dries.
Total Cost: Minus the Power Drill / Power Sander / Respirator:
Lights = about 55 dollars
Paint/Sealant = I think about 14 dollars
Pencil/Sharpie/Sharpener/Tape = 10 to 15 dollars (Blue Tape is pricey)
Drill Bit = I think 2 or 3 dollars
Stencil / Ruler = I honestly don't remember, probably no more than ten dollars.
I had the plywood lying around my house, along with all the power tools. So the total if you have a drill/sander/mask is probably right around 90 dollars. If you have to buy the plywood, then maybe like 100? But you will have tape leftover for days, along with a good ruler, a whole lot of sealant, and other stuff. So not too bad. If you need to buy a drill and a sander then, I have no idea. Sorry.
Optional supplies that are useful:
A screwdriver that will fit through a 13/64 inch hole
A Staple Gun (I believe I used a red arrow one)
Step 2: Step 2: You'll Shoot Your Eye Out
Let's get started.
For this step all you will really need are the plywood, stencils, ruler, and pencil + sharpener.
*Draw on whichever side of the board is the nicest. This is the side you will be drilling into and the side that will eventually be displayed*
Step 1: Measure Out 4 inches from each side of the plywood. Draw lines to create an inner box. This will be where all of your lettering goes.
Step 2: With the box drawn, measure out an additional box that is 2 inches from each edge. Later on this is where you will make the holes that will work as the light box for the inner text.
Step 3: Now, working strictly inside the inner box that is 4 inches in from each edge, measure down 4 inches from the top and make a line from edge to edge. Then measure up 4 inches from the bottom and make a line from edge to edge.
Step 4: You now have the top and bottom lines for the words but need to create the lines for the middle words. Because you need the space to be 4 inches wide, I believe you just need to measure two inches down and two inches up from the two lines you just created and that should leave you with 3 separate 4 inch wide text boxes to work with.
Step 5: STENCIL! Things to keep in mind, You want to make sure all the letters are spaced correctly, but this doesn't mean that they are all space the same amount. For example, if you look at the L and T in OVALTINE you can tell that I erased the L in order to move it half an inch closer to the T. I was using an inch spacing between letters, and 3 inches between words but, with some letters, when there is an empty space disparity, you need to close the distance a little.
Additionally, if I had it to do over again I would have tried to center the top line instead of just having it pressed all the way to the left while the words below were centered. If you would like to do this, I would recommend first drawing a line exactly in the center of the board from top to bottom. Then, for the top line split the word SURE in half along that line so that SU is left of the line and RE is right. For the second line just split the two words, and for the bottom line split the word OVALTINE so OVAL is left of the line and TINE is right.
Otherwise you will more than likely wind up with a slightly off centered masterpiece like I have created. But hey, you live you learn! Unless you are in some type of vegetative state. Then you just live in misery. Wow, this took a weird turn didn't it? Ok, back to work slacker!
Step 3: Step 3: But I Didn't Say Fudge
With all of your lines drawn out to your satisfaction, you now need to mark the spots where you will be drilling. I highly recommend doing this because if you just wing it, the holes will probably wind up being spaced weird and then Scut Farkus will probably show up at your house and make fun of you.
So get that sharpie, and start by measuring out a dot every inch all along the 2 inch box that you already should have drawn. Don't worry, you won't be measuring the letters, but for the box I think having the dots remain consistent looks better.
Once that is done, if you are old like me then your back will hurt. Take a break and watch some tv. When you are sufficiently rested, go back and add dots inside of the stenciled letters. Make sure to leave enough room or else the wood will crack and once again, you will probably get Scut Farkus'ed.
Step 4: Step 4: Those Icicles Have Been Known to Kill People!
Your holes are drawn and your drill is ready. Actually, that sounds kind of dirty, sorry.
Anyway, get your drill with the 13/64 drill bit in it and get ready for a lot of drilling. I didn't have much room in my garage so I balanced the entire thing on two separate gallon buckets while I drilled. If you have a workbench and a clamp, it would probably be way easier. But my garage is messy, and I was lazy, so buckets.
Ok, now the side with all of the pencil marks on it is the side you are going to want to drill into. Because when you drill into the wood, the back of the wood is going to splinter and get real ugly. There will still be some knicks and scratches on the side that you drill, but nowhere near the level of destruction that will occur on the opposite side as you can see in the pictures.
While you are drilling, you might notice that some of the holes you drew for the letters are a little too close together. That is ok. Just do your best to space them out a little more and try to keep both sides uniform when doing letters like the O. Remember, no one you have ever known will actually have one of these, so who is to say you didn't create it exactly the way you wanted to?
Once everything is drilled, and this will take forever believe me, and require multiple breaks, the next step is to use that sander. But, before doing that I used my shopvac and just ran the hard plastic circular hose over the back of the wood which help break off a lot of the splinters. If you don't have a shop vac, just get a plastic cup and run the open end face down on the wood back and forth.
If you don't do this, then when you try to sand it the wood will just shred the sandpaper very quickly. Remember, this side isn't really going to be seen so it doesn't have to be perfect but, you will be attaching all the lights to this side so it would be nice if you didn't wind up with a hand full of splinters.
With that done, sand the front. While doing this, it is ok if the penciling for the letter is erased but try to keep all of the 4 inch box intact because you will need that for the next step which requires the Blue Painter's Tape.
As seen in the picture, completely cover up everything with tape that isn't in the inside letter box. Once I covered everything, I then added a second line of tape around the inside square just to be sure since, I am always paranoid the paint will leak through.
Step 5: Step 5: You Mundane Noodle!
This is where things will start to slow down a little bit, and get a lot easier.
All you need to do for this step is add a few layers of paint to the wood. In the picture it is white because I started with a white primer, however, the paint I recommended says it is both a paint and a primer so this more than likely was a completely pointless step. But not priming first seemed weird to me, so whatever.
After I put the primer on, I gave it three coats of green paint just to be sure. I waited about 40 minutes between coats and then waited an entire day before using the DELICATE PAINTERS TAPE over the already painted green as seen in the picture that looks like there is a large grocery bag in the middle with red paint on the edges.
If you are like, King-O-The-Tapes, I suppose you could just tape off the entire middle and paint the entire outside at once after you have painted the middle. But like, I'm not King O the Tapes so I decided to tape the sides, then the top and bottom. Just seemed easier. If you look really really close you can see a dividing line in the paint but since I display my sign on the outside of my second story house, this isn't much of a concern.
Once everything is painted to your satisfaction you will want to cover the entire thing with two coats of clear coat sealant. Otherwise, when it rains or snows or whatever's... your paint might run off.
Step 6: I TRIPLE-dog-dare Ya!
You're almost done with this project you intrepid creator of all that is wonderful! Before you know it, Ralphie, Randy, Flick and the whole gang will be lining up around the block to bask in the splendor of the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in your window (or wherever you hang this).
But you're not there yet so get back to work ya bum.
Make sure when doing this step you only attach three 150 bulb strands of lights together. So the end result will be two separate plugs you have to plug in. You might be able to get away with plugging all 5 strands together but I figure it would be a much more merry Christmas if your house didn't burn down and if when you were finished, the power load didn't wind up making the lights so dim that you could barely see them.
Ok, moving forward for this step what you are going to need to do is painstakingly insert green lights (BEFORE ADDING IN THE LIGHTS make sure that you check each individual strand. I didn't do this and had to remove 150 lights because one of the strands was bad in the middle) into the entire perimeter of the sign from the back (Obviously), and red lights in all of the letters in the middle. I would suggest figuring out a way to prop the sign off the ground a few inches, otherwise the lights won't be able to push in all the way unless you used some incredibly thick plywood.
When doing this, I would also recommend stapling the cord for the lights down whenever you feel like there is a particularly loose light. Technically you could just hot glue the living heck out of this thing and glue every light but, if you do that then I think it will be a pain in the butt every time a light burns out. Because the goal here is to have this for the rest of your life.
And the rest of your kids lives.
And their kids.
This will be your version of the watch from Pulp Fiction. If you don't know what I'm talking about... why not?
So anyway, yeah, staple away!
Once all the lights are securely fastened, all you have to do is wrap up the leftover lights with heavy duty duct tape and voila! Mission Accomplished.
IMPORTANT: For whatever reason, some of the holes you drilled will be too tight. Either because some wood got stuck in the hole, or it was drilled through a knot in the wood, or whatever. Most of the time you can push the lights through and it is actually good that it is snug since you want them to stay fastened in the holes.
However, if you push too hard the lights will break. Or, if you push and then realize that if you push any harder the light will break, then when you try to get the light out it will be ripped from the string.
So, the way around this is whenever you have a hole that seems a little tricky, just punch it through with a screwdriver first. Then it should be fine. If the light breaks or get stuck, you can also use the screwdriver to bust out the stuck/broken light as well.
Step 7: Step 7: a Crummy Commercial? Son of a B#@*$ !
You've done it!
Congratulations, you should feel proud of yourself. And before you feel too proud of me for making this tutorial I would like to thank Christy K James over at this site: Christy K James Guide
If anyone should be getting credit for this instructable it is her because her guide was instrumental in the creation I made. The only real difference is that I used twice the amount of lights and painted differently. But really, this was her idea so even though I have never communicated with you, thank you Christy K James for providing 100% of the inspiration to make this. And also thank you to the creators of Lite Brite since I am guessing they influenced you.
Also, if they let me post my video then thank you to Run DMC since I used their song in the video. If the video isn't allowed well, just hum Christmas In Hollis while you read this tutorial.
Anyway, if you choose to make your own I would love to see pictures. If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer. The total time to make this was like, 5 days. Thank you, goodnight.