We were looking for a way to save money on modern standoff house numbers (which can cost up to $50 per number online).
We decided to use what we already had left over after our project, a half empty box of screws!
The beauty of this project is it can be installed anywhere, by anyone and your numbers can be done in whatever font, style and color that best fits your home!
Step 1: Materials and Tools
All you need to get started is:
- a driver (handheld screwdriver works fine, but a power driver will make quicker work)
- a box of stainless steel/exterior screws (i used number 8 at 1 5/8")
- a printed set of numbers to use as a template (more on this in the next step)
- a hammer, rock or blunt object to tap the screws.
Step 2: Layout/Grid
Find a set set of numbers you want on your home...
This could be a font you like in a word processor or a fancy set of numbers you found using a google image search (or ones you drew by hand).
Once you've got your numbers, overlay them with a gird and mark at each point where the numbers and grid overlap.
I decided to use the computer and photoshop for this step, but you could just as easily draw numbers by hand and use tracing paper or a printed out grid. The idea is simply to give yourself an easy grid to transfer to the wood you plan to put the numbers onto later.
Hint: the closer you can make the spacing of your grid to the size of the heads on your screws, the tighter the pattern will be when your numbers are completed.
Step 3: Transfer the Numbers
In a perfect world, you would use your new full spectrum laser to burn the perfect grid onto your wood...but if you're like me and don't (sadly) have a laser of your own yet, you can still transfer your numbers the old fashioned way =)
Simply tape your printed number/grid to the wood you plan on using. The wood could be a piece you plan to mount on your house later, or (as i did) you can simply screw directly into the wall or a piece of trim next to your front door.
Once taped securely, grab one of the screws from your box and a hammer, rock or other blunt object.
Simply tap the screw at each grid point where you will eventually be inserting a screw. Tap a few points and peek behind to make sure you can easily see the holes.
You will soon have a bunch of holes perforating your paper, so its easy to see when you've completed this step.
Peel off your paper and lets make some numbers!
Step 4: Screw It!
Now start inserting a screw into each of the dots you created on the wood.
You can decide how far you would like the screws to standoff the surface, and it's easy enough to change later if you decide you want them longer or shorter. I used screws that were 1 5/8" long and left about 1" protruding from the wall so that i could still see plenty of threads and so my numbers would catch a nice long shadow in the afternoon sun.
I found that with a bit of practice, each screw kind of guides the next and if you spend enough time you can actually end up with all screw heads touching each other and holding the next one in place. It doesn't have to be perfect to look really clean and striking from a distance.
A driver makes this easy work, but having a handheld screw driver makes slight tweaks in depth a breeze!
Keep screwing until each dot has been replaced with a screw and that's it, your one-of-a-kind house numbers are ready...now everyone can find you, and they'll be impressed with your craftsmanship and skills before even entering the house!!
Hint- if you start somewhere in the center of each number and work out in all directions it seems easier to keep the screws relatively straight in relation to each other. If you are using a piece of wood that will be attached later, you could even pre-drill to ensure each screw is perfectly straight.
to see the rest of the project, also all built by hand, visit
Step 5: Update: Make Them Even Better!
Here's a view of my second set of numbers. with all the kinks worked out.
Same stainless deck screws, but set in a plank of ipe and with all holes predrilled.
now if only i could come up with a way to make them faster!
Third Prize in the
Full Spectrum Laser Contest