Introduction: How to Make Easy Custom Imprints in Wood

About: Hi, I'm Sam and I like to make things - check out some of my projects below. I worked for this site from 2014 - 2023 and have nothing but love for the Instructables community. Keep making great stuff!

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! : )