Modern Stainless Steel Home Numbers DIY





Introduction: Modern Stainless Steel Home Numbers DIY

Just after we bought a house I discovered Pinterest. We had to wait
six months before we got the keys so I had some time to pin interesting home ideas. Months of obsessive pinning passed before I finally worked out my own project.

Step 1: Inspired

I really got inspired by this picture above, circulating on Pinterest and Instructables for a while.

I decided to create my own version of this cool idea and I’m very happy with the end result.

Step 2: Drafts

My first thought was to don’t use the same kind of grid as the original
idea had. Since my house number is 69, I wanted to try to make numbers have a nice curve.

I did many tests in Photoshop with the spacing and different sizes for the screw heads, and also did trial and error tests on a wooden plank. For some reason i couldn’t get the angle of the curve right to get a nice result.

Step 3: Designing

Since none of the results were satisfying, I gave the idea of using a fixed grid a go and I should of done that from the start.
For this I eventually used Microsoft Excel and this really worked well. Just set the size of the cells at the same value as your screw heads. In my case that was 5mm. And then start designing your numbers by using capital O’s to visualize your screws. After the many variations inspired on bitmap SEGA numbers, this was our winner.

Luckily, I just had to turn around the 6 to get an identical 9.

Step 4: Hammertime

I replaced all the capital 'O’s' with small round dots '.' which I centered in the cells. After printing and taping the two numbers on to the plank, I hit every dot with a hammer/nail to leave small marks in the wood. Make sure the alignment of the numbers is correct. In Dutch we have a rhyme “meten is weten”, which means “measuring is knowing”.

Step 5: You Know the Drill

Before I started with the bench drill, I cut the plank to the right size so it was more manageable while drilling.
If you don’t have an bench drill, try to drill with a straight vertical angle. Make sure that your drill isn’t too small, because then you may get some cracks when you turn in the screws.

Step 6:

Then all you have to do is treat it (multiple times) with paint or
varnish so your wood will survive in all weather conditions. I used a clear varnish to keep the natural look of the wood.

Step 7: Screw You Guys

The final step was to turn in the screws. I did them all by hand because I didn’t want to force the wood. Sometimes I had to redo complete rows because the screws had to much of an angle offset. When all 288 screws were firmly turned, all I had to to do was create a simple suspension method on the back, but this can be achieved in tons of ways. I used two keyhole shaped hangers on the back of the wood.

Step 8: Materials

The materials you need for this project:

– Screw driver
– Stainless steel screws (5 mm x 60 mm)
– Wooden plank
– Preferably a bench drill (or a hand drill with steady hand)
– Varnish or paint (paintbrush)
– Screw plugs, two keyhole hangers and screws to attach it to the wall (stone drill)
– Microsoft Excel or Apple’s Numbers software.
– Patience

Step 9: End Result

Hopefully you liked my first project and post!


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80 Discussions

What method did you use to ensure all screws were the same height?

I left this comment on the 'ible this is based on as well. Sorry for the cut and paste, but it's something that really has to be put out there for projects like these.

Okay, this will seem like a buzzkill and a rant, but please, please, please hear me out.

As a former delivery driver (way back in the late 90's, but still), I have to point out that although these look cool in abstract, they run a HUGE risk of being aggressively anti-functional as actual house numbers.

House numbers aren't house jewelry. They're more like house licences plates. They need to be clear and contrasty in order to do their actual job, otherwise they might as well not be there at all. The bane of every delivery driver is "that guy" who thinks it's cool to have black numbers on a dark brown plank, or numbers recessed way back in the shadow of the eaves. Depending on your neighborhood, up to 2/3 of your neighbors are already That Guy (meaning the driver may have a hard time even triangulating using the surrounding house numbers). Please don't be That Guy.

I've seen sooooooooooooooooo many attempts to turn house numbers into house jewelry that look "pretty", but completely destroy the functionality of the numbers. From things like carved wood numbers tacked to a tree branch, to glass mosaics that from the road are halfway to looking like a color-blindness test card. Lighting plays a big part too: two common things I'd see are sconces that light up the wall above the number while putting the number itself directly in the sconce baseplate's shadow, and backlit numbers that become unreadable from an angle because the thickness of the numbers occludes the lighting on their opposite edges.

These numbers are halfway there already. The screws cast a dappled shadow that confuses the edges of the numbers, making them less readable. This is exacerbated by the fact that the face are made of dots (screw heads) instead of solid shapes, so they're going to dither into their own shadows. And the screw heads read as neutral grey, making contrast difficult. Remember: a driver will, under [i]best[/i] conditions, be looking for your numbers in quick distracted glances at a distance while moving.

This is less of a deal these days now that GPS navigation is common, but it can still be a problem if the GPS map is inaccurate (we've all had the experience of being pointed to the wrong building, I'm sure).

If you want to use this sort of method to make house jewelry, rock out. But I strongly advise using it for decorative designs instead of for the house numbers. If you must use it for house numbers, make sure you pay very close attention to your choice of colors, font, and location to ensure the sign is still highly readable. Not readable if you already know what you're looking for and are standing calmly halfway up the walk in midday light. Not readable in an up-close beauty photo. Readable from the road, at dusk (or night), in half-second glances while driving, past unfamiliar houses on an unfamiliar street, where you have no idea what to expect.

Unfortunately some of the examples shown (and unfortunately in several of the examples done by commenters below) is exactly what you NEVER want to do: ultra low-contrast. These people have camouflaged their numbers, ensuring that every delivery driver that arrives at their door does so cursing them. It's defiantly arty, but it wrecks the functionality of the numbers so hard that it's potentially worse than not having numbers at all.

6 replies

Ah! This is something I have not thought too much about in depth but now I will. I've been thinking of making a number plate like this, but now I will take your advice into consideration should I change what I currently have.
As someone who lives in a rural area, I don't have curbs, or a mailbox in front of my house, nor are my neighbors houses clearly marked or easily visible from the road, but someone who does regularly get packages delivered, Thank you for this.

I can understand where you're coming from. Although I would think that the original poster's numbers would be MORE helpful to a delivery driver because it's highly contrasted (dark screws on light wood) and is bigger so it can actually be seen. I could understand if you were looking from the direct side it could be difficult maybe to see. But from the road (where I assume the front pics were taken), it looks like it'd be a big help. I guess it would also be dependent on where the numbers are placed in comparison to the road/driveway in each specific scenario. Thanks for the wisdom though! Food for thought. And thanks to the original poster. It looks very well done :)

I still have some numbers on my mailbox at the street, so it's no biggie ;)

Mailbox letters are often too tiny to read from a moving car. Or the mailbox itself may blend into it's surroundings enough that one doesn't spot it early enough to see the numbers even if the numbers on it are good. Not saying that's the case with yours (I obviously can't know), I'm just cautioning against taking it for granted that any of your numbers are visible unless you've made sure. I met no end of of people back in the day who totally believed their numbers were visible because they had a mental image of them from their own POV, but the truth was they'd never actually gone out and made sure, so they weren't.

The best (and easiest) is simply keeping the painted curb numbers maintained. If those are legible, your delivery guy will always be happy, no matter what your other numbers look like. That's the "everybody wins" easy button.

If ever someone starts a sentence with "this will seem like a buzzkill and a rant," you're probably in for a rant. lol Dude, I've been looking at several examples of custom house numbers and I'm constantly seeing this same copy and paste. Here's the thing. It's 2016. People can find your house without numbers on it at all. I currently don't have any numbers on my house and I've never missed a package. It's not that hard to look at the mailbox for a house number, or the next door neighbors house for that matter. People can do what they want. The world won't end. And these numbers look insanely awesome, and unique. Chill out.

Well, first off, you're not "constantly seeing this same copy and paste", because I've only posted it on one other 'ible. So good job trying to use hyperbole on the one guy who's guaranteed to know exactly how much you're fudging.

As to the rest, I'm just trying to give a heads up. I have no power over what other people do, not do I claim to. Nor did I ever say that people flat out shouldn't do this. I'm just trying to put out some caveats that I know from experience lots of people don't think about. If you think that counts as trying to stop people from doing whatever, well that seems like a similar sort of thing to that "criticism is censorship" weirdness one sometimes sees.

It's not a rant, but in this day and age where anything more than two sentences seems to bring out the "TL:DR" brigade, plus my desire to not come across as one of those "doesn't know the difference between being honest and being tactless" jerks, I felt some kind of disclaimer up front was appropriate. But I guess there's no real point in that sort of nicety if people don't read the rest anyway, eh?

BTW, I addressed the bit about street numbers being less relevant today, so yeah, I know you didn't actually read what you're replying to. You just saw something that looked long and vaguely critical, and fired away. But thanks for the effort anyway, I guess?

And yes, you will always get your package or your pizza in the end. It's not to do with you missing the delivery, it's to do with the driver losing precious time off his or her route having to drive up and down the same street 4 times before they're able to find you. To you it's an extra few minutes you'll probably never know about, but to the driver it's a cumulative effect that can result in the last guy in the run getting his pizza late. GPS undoubtedly makes it a lot less common these days, but I guarantee it still happens, because even today GPS systems will sometimes point me to the wrong house or building, or sometimes even complex. Bad GPS directions are common enough to be a comedy cliche, so I know it's happened to you too, regardless of how fervently you might wish otherwise for the sake of argument.

My OCD would kick-in and I'd need to have the screw head slots lined up, then of course the heights would differ...

1 reply

Amen, brother. I've been contemplating how to make that acceptable so that I can do a set of these. I don't care for the pixelated version, but the other 6 is flawed where the tail meets the circle. Something else just occurred to me... Spider webs. Ok deal's off.

This is really cool. I needed a nice way to display our house number & I'm going to use this approach. Thanks for sharing this project with us!!

1 reply

Cool!!! I love it

Okay, just for a "friend" of mine (wink, wink) that doesn't know what number it is, is it 69 or 96?

1 reply

If you know the number of my neighbors, you'll know ;)

Hi Peter-Paul, would you like to share where you got the wood from? I'm a Dutchy also so I can look for it :)

Neat Concept. I plan on doing the project but with a little cheating. I have a CNC router and it can tap drill starter holes in an exact pattern to locate the screws.

Very cool! I'm looking forward to doing this. Great detail to your instructions. Thanks for sharing.

God! Looks so Nice~~ Thanks for sharing !!!!

Amazing idea I´ll try it to do it fantastic congratulations