Sunday, January 15, 2012

More fun with power tools

So much for anonymity
Over the summer I saw an idea for a  monogram photo collage on pinterest which was perfect for brightening up an empty corner of a kid's room.  With hundreds of free photo print credits at an online retailer (long story involving my bargain-hunting brother), it was a matter of minutes to get a stack of photos ordered, but it took until after Christmas (but before the broken arm!) for me to find time to work on this project.

I'd initially planned on just making a large "J", but with so many photos and a 2'X4' sheet of MDF, it seemed the best way to use up the space was to go with the whole name.

To make one like it, you'll need:

--1/4" medium density fiberboard
--photos (in b&w or sepia)
--modge podge or white glue
--paint (black or dark brown)
--jigsaw & drill

I started out letting John pick his favorite font for his name.  The fastest way for me to get the letters right next to each other was to print it out and then fold the paper - I'm sure there's a more involved way to manipulate the text and print it out just right, but it wasn't worth figuring out for me.

To help me enlarge the name, I divided each letter roughly into halves, then sketched out a similar grid on the MDF.  Chalk is a nice forgiving medium for this task, followed by sharpie after you're satisfied with the result of your sketching.

If, like me, you are using antiquated (i.e. older than me) tools and a jerry-rigged set-up on clementine crates, then the easiest way to cut around all the bends and sharp corners is to drill holes ( a 1/2" wood boring bit is nice for this) at all the sharp corners or interior cuts, and then go dot-to-dot with the jigsaw:

The dots don't have to be followed sequentially or unidirectionally - the easiest way to handle an inside corner is to come at it from opposite directions.

Having the recipient there to help hold the MDF steady is a nice bonus

After the name is all cut out give it a light sanding and paint the edges your desired colour.  (If you are concerned about the MDF off-gasing, a coat of paint over the entire exposed surface of the board will help with that.)  Then comes the fun part of gluing on your photos.  I used modge-podge, but a thin even layer of white glue should work as well.  I didn't take pictures of the process, but what worked for me was to lay the photos over the name, then crease them by pressing your finger along the edge of the MDF - this will give you a nice bend in the photopaper that you can cut along.  Glue on your photos, let it dry, and if you want you can give the edges  another light sanding to distress it.


  1. Very cool! It's probably a good thing you spelled out the whole name, because just a "J" would be a little ambiguous in your family :)

    1. Awesome. I like how you used the name instead of just a letter. Great idea for words like home, love and family....