How to Make Easy Custom Imprints in Wood

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Introduction: How to Make Easy Custom Imprints in Wood

About: Make. Learn. Repeat! I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been making stuff every since. My name is Sam and I'm a community manager here at Instructables.

This is a quick guide to show how you can make some easy custom imprints in wood.

I needed to add some numbers to this pine board and was looking for an easy and cheap way to do it.

The numbers aren't perfect, but for the time it took this worked out to be a really great option.

This is how I did it.

Step 1: Make Shapes With Wire

I have a spool of rebar tie-wire that I picked up at the home improvement store for a few dollars. It's handy for all sorts of uses around the home and workshop.

I used the wire to make simple numerical shapes as shown, using a pair of needle-nose pliers.

There's no need to duplicate shapes, as you can see:

  • the 1 is used for part of the four
  • part of the 3 and part of the 4 make the 5
  • a 6 would also a 9, and so on

Any other letters or shapes could be made in the same fashion, just with a little cutting and bending with a pair of pliers.

Step 2: Pound Shapes Into the Wood

One at a time the wire shapes were then positioned as desired and pounded into the wood to make impressions.

If the shapes stuck into the wood at all, I used a sewing needle to pop them out.

Step 3: Painting the Imprints

To add paint to the imprints, a bit of trial and error was required.

My first couple of attempts led to paint bleeding into the wood in the areas around the impressions, perhaps due to the soft nature of the pine wood that was used. I trimmed off edge of the board with the number imprints using my table saw and had to start over.

The solution to avoid paint bleed for me was to seal the wood before trying to add paint to the impressions.

I applied several coats of spray lacquer to the wood, which effectively sealed all the broken wood grain around the numbers.

Once the wood was dry, I dabbed black acrylic craft paint into the impressions using my finger tip.

A damp paper towel was used to gently wipe across the edge of the wood to remove excess paint, and the paint was left to dry.

After the paint in the imprints was dry, I sprayed the board with another coat of lacquer.

Step 4: Done!

The finished number board was used for the front edge of another project I posted recently: Portable Skeeball Game.

This turned out to be a great solution in my case, and seemed like others might find the idea useful when quick, custom wood imprints might be needed.

How would you use this technique? If you use it at some point in a project, please share a photo of your results in the comments!

Thanks for reading! : )

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    32 Comments

    0
    HollyMann
    HollyMann

    10 months ago

    Wow. What a creative idea. I would have never ever thought of making imprints like that. I am not sure I can shape that wiring as nicely as you did. But, this is good to know for the future if needed.

    0
    attosa
    attosa

    2 years ago

    oh wow I really love this!! I can handle doing this :D

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks! You should give it a shot sometime for sure : )

    2
    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    Tip 2 years ago

    Such a great idea and so easy! You could use this to mark a board used for measuring kid's heights as they grow :)

    0
    JohnC430
    JohnC430

    Reply 2 years ago

    I just mark the wall with their names and the date. 4 grand kids to follow. the cleaning lady brought her sister to help and the woman was shocked at the mess on the wall. I told her she did not have to clean the wall.. :)

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    Reply 2 years ago

    That is a fantastic idea!

    0
    Lovetra
    Lovetra

    2 years ago

    This is super for those who want imbedded lettering and DON't have
    either a router or wood burning iron. I like the quick, repeditive idea
    of keeping the shapes in a jar for over and over usage where one hammer will do it. Small projects inside when you really don't feel like going out to a cold garage comes to mind.

    0
    Elaina M
    Elaina M

    2 years ago

    really cool idea! excited to play with this concept on a few nice pieces of scrap wood I have lying around ! Thanks for sharing the awesomeness and putting such a nice instructable (with stellar photography) together ! !!

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks Elaina : D

    0
    HaraldS
    HaraldS

    2 years ago on Step 4

    Thanks for the great Idea - I may use this for one of my creations. And probably try something for my burner with copper wires.

    Aufstellsudoku_bunt.JPG
    0
    jessyratfink
    jessyratfink

    2 years ago

    This is really smart! I typically drag out my woodburner, but this looks like it'll last longer!

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks! If the thought had crossed my mind at the time, I would have used a woodburner . . but for whatever reason I didn't even consider it! : |

    0
    allangee
    allangee

    2 years ago

    You're way better at wire bending than I am. A simple 0 would take me all night! :)

    0
    DebH19
    DebH19

    Question 2 years ago on Step 4

    Could anyone suggest a similar wire available in the uk? rebar wire isn't something that's easy to lay your hands on, maybe something on fleabay or Amazon. Thanks for any help.

    0
    allangee
    allangee

    Answer 2 years ago

    coat hanger.

    0
    DebH19
    DebH19

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks for getting back so quickly, paper clips are a great idea, it's just sods law that I have no clue which of my many " Junk drawers" that they are in. I do have some heavy duty plastic coated garden wire I could strip. I could wack it into some wood a few times to see if it flattens out. Cheers for the link to the wire on Amazon, at the very least it give me the gauge size.

    2
    jayedwin98020
    jayedwin98020

    2 years ago

    If you didn't want the 'break' to show in your zero,
    flip your zero 180°, and press it again.

    2
    tresawle1812
    tresawle1812

    2 years ago

    You could heat the numbers up with a blow lamp holding them with pliers, this would leave a black burn mark ready to take a coat of lacquer.

    4
    pbesong
    pbesong

    2 years ago

    cool instructable. as for painting, after carving this sign with a router, I spray painted it with red and black primer, then used a belt sander to remove the excess spray around the image and the letters (no need to mask off). then just blow out the sawdust and you can finish it any way you want. i just left it unfinished to make it look more rugged. the primer doesn't seem to bleed into the wood like regular paint might and it dries pretty fast.

    IMG_4257.jpg