Build Details

This will also double as the instructions, separated into 2 parts, one for making the burned letters, and one for the night light electronics.

For the sign:

You need:

  • Slices of logs: They should be about an inch thick, but quality of cut does not matter. Mine were about 8" pieces chain-saw cut without finishing.
  • Metal foil tape: I got the cheapest foil tape I could find at Home Depot. It should be foil and adhesive, no paper or foam.
  • Stencils: I used some stencils about 2" high. They do not need to be the full size of the wood because you will enlarge the letters.
  • Pen or marker
  • Exact-o knife
  • Stuff to accomplish enlarging (see method below)
  • Low heat torch: I used an oxy-acetylene with a very tiny tip. I think propane would work fine.

Test the tape

In the image above I made a T at first, but I think making a gap would be better as it is closer to how the letters will be formed. Get a scrap piece of wood and place 3 layers of tape midway across. Leave a 1/2" gap and place another 3 layers of tape. Make sure to line the layers perfectly or trim them with an exact-o knife so that any wood showing is bordered with no less than 3 layers of tape.

Go outside and fire up your torch. Take the taped wood and place it on an object that won't reasonably be harmed with the torch, like a metal table. A grill may work. I used a trailer fender. Use the torch sparingly to char the wood by quickly "brushing" the flame on to the exposed wood for less than a second, and removing. Wait several seconds for the wood and tape to cool. Try to singe the exposed wood without damaging the tape as much as possible. You DO NOT need to make the wood black, just darken it up.

Remove the tape and observe the results.

I first tried with 1 layer of tape and found that the heat permanently bonded the tape glue to the wood. I then used 3 layers, and was able to get a good darkening of the wood without the bottom layer of glue bonding to the wood.

If 3 layers of tape still presents issues with the glue bonding to the wood, try more layers, less flame exposure, or different tape. If you can't get your test piece to work, STOP NOW.

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