While pregnant a lot of my nesting energy went into dreaming up the perfect nursery. I wanted something rustic. A room that the entire family felt comfortable in that matched the decor of the rest of the house. After looking at thousands (I might not be exaggerating with that number) of nursery pictures on Pinterest and beyond there was one bit of decor I knew I wanted. A giant wall letter. I saw letters with sticks, crayons, every color in existence, glitter, maps, sports, you name it. But, I didn’t see exactly what I wanted. So, I decided to make it.
I knew that I wanted to use real wood. I wanted a lot of texture. And I wanted something that would grow with Z. Something that would look great in his room at 6 months, 6 years, and 16 years.
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This isn’t exactly a trip to the craft store sort of DIY. You’re going to need to go outside AND use power tools. I used small wood rounds cut from branches and glued to a base made from 2×4’s. For this project you could definitely buy a pre-made wooden letter. I understand that not every letter is as easy to make out of 2×4’s as the letter Z.
These were my branches, they ranged from 1.5 to 2.5 inches in diameter. If you’re finding branches on the ground check carefully, this won’t work if the branches are rotten.
For my frame I used some 2×4 scraps we had left over from another project. After outlining this shape I used a biscuit joiner and wood clue to secure the pieces together. Because I used scraps, my boards had some serious variation in color, so I used a darker color stain to even them out (again, left over from another project. I’m a big fan of using what you have on hand).
After clipping twigs off of my branches I got to work on the radial arm saw cutting them into rounds. I didn’t measure when slicing them because I wanted a variation in thicknesses. My thinnest measured approximately 1/2 inch, and my thickest was about 1 inch. That doesn’t sound like much difference, but I think it changed the look of the project a lot.
Once I had all of my rounds cut I took some rough sand paper just to take off the really rough edges. As you can see in the picture, I didn’t sand them much.
I laid my Z frame on the ground and placed my rounds on it to test my layout. I wanted a mix of large/small and tall/short throughout. Once I liked my layout, I busted out the wood glue. I used this one. One at a time I glued my rounds to the frame. After all of the rounds were glued to the frame I left it for the glue to dry. Always check the cure time on the particular glue you’re using!
The final step was a few coats of spray on polyurethane – this is what I used. It took 4 coats of the semi-gloss before I was happy with the results.
For those of you that need a breakdown of steps:
- Buy wooden letter, or assemble frame with 2×4’s
- Find branches of varying size
- Cut branches into rounds of varying size
- Test layout by placing rounds on frame
- Glue rounds to frame
- Finish with 2-6 coats of polyurethane
Technically the final step would be hanging this beauty on your wall, but it would also look fantastic topping a book shelf or on a mantle.
Update: A (smart) friend pointed out that wood rounds can also be purchased online! If you’re not up for venturing out into the woods for branches, don’t own a radial arm saw, or just don’t want to deal with the extra steps – you officially have my permission to buy wood rounds for this project.
Did you use a wall letter in your nursery? What’s your favorite piece of home decor?