Introduction: Pet Marker

I was asked to make a memorial pet marker head stone for a friend whose beloved dog has recently passed away.

I had just completed some Halloween headstones, but was apprehensive at make something so personal. After some convincing and reassurance that it was not in bad taste, I agreed. The gift was well received and appreciated.

Step 1: Materials and Tools


  • Particle Board shelf (with a preapplied laminate). I used a 5/8" 12"x48" Rock Maple shelf.
  • Yard stake
  • Gray Primer (I used both a spray can and a paint can, but the shades didn't match up)
  • Clear Urethane
  • Faux stone paint (spray can). I used Rust-Oleum Gray Stone Texture
  • Black Paint (craft acrylic or from a can)
  • Goo Gone
  • Self Lamination Sheet


  • Jigsaw (and blade)
  • Plunge Router (I used a Dremel Rotary tool with a plunge router attachment)
  • 1/8" straight routing bit
  • Sand paper or sanding block
  • Carbon paper
  • Glue Stick
  • Paint brush (small tip, I think it's called a liner)
  • Plastic shot glass (optional, to hold paint during lettering)
  • 10 Gallon bucket (optional, just for tracing half a circle)
  • Work bench of some sort
  • Clamp(s)
  • Pencil
  • Screws, drill, and countersink bit (for yard stake, though you could glue in place in stead)

Step 2: Sketch the Template

For the circular top, I traced around a 10 gallon bucket.

I used Microsoft Word to create the template for the lettering. I printed a heart image I found online, and printed a photo of their dog (the circle I added, wound up not being necessary. I reprinted it so the circle wouldn't be visible when it was complete). I than laid all the components out as shown.

I used carbon paper to trace the outline of the lettering and the heart design (it goes face down between the wood and the printed templates. In the pictures above, you can see I cut the photo down to the circle... you don't need to do this. As you'll see later, I reprinted the photo and didn't trim it.

Step 3: Cut Out the Shape and Route the Patern

I clamped the wood down, and used a jig saw to trim around the top circle, and trimmer the height to about 2 1/2 feet. I than used the plunge router to route out the lettering and heart design. Use the sand paper to clean up the outer edge of the top circle. Because I used a laminate shelf for this project, there wasn't much other sanding needed.

Step 4: Laminate the Photo

Using an "extreme" glue stick I adhered the (rectangular) photo to the wood. I applied a slightly larger rectangular (trimmed) piece of sticky self lamination down over photo. I printed an appropriately sized circle, intended for the photo, in Microsoft paint but filled as a solid color. I used the glue stick to temporary apply the blue paper circle over the photo (to protect it while painting and priming). Print two of three of these circles. The area it covers, will allow the protect the photo and allow it to show through after painting.

Step 5: Prime

With the paper circle protecting the photo, I applied spray primer to the front of the marker. I should have done all the priming at once. Remove the paper circle protecting the photo before the primer dries. If you wait until it dries, removing it will peel away some of the primer.

Step 6: Install the Yard Stake

You should do this before priming the front.

In this version I screwed the yard stake into place. I used a counter sink bit to get the screw to sit flush. As an alternative you can use wood glue and clamp the stake into place for 20 minutes (as the glue dries).

Step 7: Finish Priming

Or hopefully do all the priming at once. I wound up using a can and brush to prime the edges, but the primer colors didn't match what I previously used. This normally isn't a big deal, but the faux stone spray paint will show through some of the primer, so be sure to use a the same shade of gray primer. Make sure to apply another paper circle over the photo to protect it from the primer (glue stick or a double sided piece of tape).

Step 8: Apply the Faux Stone Spray Paint

Make sure to apply another paper circle over the photo to protect it from the paint (glue stick or a double sided piece of tape). Spray one or two coats of the faux stone spray paint all around the marker. And try to remove the paper circle before the paint dries, so you don't accidentally peel the paint off.

Step 9: Clean Up the Photo

Because of the glue stick, you now need to clean some adhesive off of the photo. Goo Gone works great.

Step 10: Re-lettering

As they stand now, the lettering is readable up close. To make it more clear/visible I painted the routed sections.

At one point I was using black acrylic craft paint to fill in the routed portions. It didn't seem suitable. I used a can of flat black paint instead, and carefully filled in the routed portions with a small paint brush. I used the plastic shot glass to hold the paint while I worked.

(You can see at the bottom, the side affect of using two different shades of primer)

Step 11: Seal

When painting is complete, I use a clear urethane to weather/rain proof the paint. The faux stone spray paint has no water resistance, and will wash away in the rain. The urethane has held up well (but you might need to reapply every two years). On this project I used at least two coats on both sides. Be sure to stir frequently, or it will leave a yellowish tint.

Step 12: Place in Yard

Just tap the top of the stake with a hammer to place it in the lawn.