How to make wooden letters: A DIY woodworking project

There’s always an interesting project going on in Grandpa’s woodshop! Right now, we’re working on making wooden letters from a plain piece of wood. Here’s how we made our own alphabet of wood cutouts.

Diy wood letters on alphabet gathre mat
How to make wooden letters: A DIY woodworking project

How to make DIY wood letters

These large wood Letters are made with high-quality plywood and cut out with a scroll saw. Once the shape of the letter is cut out, each one is hand-sanded to make the finished wooden toy letter.

This was a fun little family project, and such a fun DIY to do for the kids to play with.

How to use your wooden letters

We used these wooden letters for learning the alphabet. They work perfectly with the letter mat shown above! The kids love matching the wooden letter with the written letter.

This could also be a great project for learning to spell words! Just be sure to make extra wooden letters for common letters (vowels, t, n, s, etc.) so that you can spell common words. You may also choose to make lowercase letters (we just stuck with capitals).

We also made some extra ones to put up on the kids’ room doors. You could spell their entire name, or even their initial would be a cute idea.

It turns out that wooden letters can be used for education and home decor – Who knew!

Scroll saw close up of blade and work table
How to make wooden letters: A DIY woodworking project

Supplies for making wooden letters

Here are the key supplies for making your own wooden letters:

  • High-quality plywood
    • If you wanted to, you could also probably use pallet wood, but we used plywood!
  • Scroll saw
  • Pencil
  • Sandpaper
  • Letter paper template

Take the time to find the right supplies. We checked out lots of different types of plywood.

Choosing the right wood to make wooden play letters with
We chose this high-quality “Baltic Birch” plywood for the wooden letters.

Step 1: Choose wood for the letters

The first step is to choose wood for the letters. The regular hardware store’s plain plywood seemed to chip too much and was hard to sand to a smooth surface. Since we wanted these to last quite a while, we decided against it!

We found this higher-quality “Baltic Birch” plywood at a specialty plywood store. It resembles the plywood used in some European wood children’s toys. When you’re looking to create something that you hope to last for years to come, quality like this makes a big difference!

Again, if you wanted to save some money on the cost of lumber (it’s expensive, I get it!), then you could probably use pallet wood to make wooden letters, but my guess is that it would be similar to plain plywood.

Using regular plywood to make wooden letters - letter a
How to make wooden letters: A DIY woodworking project

Step 2: Practice cutting letters on scrap plywood

Because the baltic birch plywood is so expensive, it made sense to practice cutting letters on scrap plywood. Pictured above is one of the first practice letters cut out in wood scrap.

Regardless, please follow all instructions and safety precautions for using the scroll saw.

Paper letter template for making wooden letters from scratch
How to make wooden letters: A DIY woodworking project

Step 3: Make paper letter shapes

The next step is to make paper templates (or cardboard) for each letter. You could print out letters using a computer or base your templates on already-printed letters. This lets you perfect the shape or font that you want to use without using up wood!

We used the font on this alphabet Gathre mat as inspiration (my Mom saw a mat with some matching letters on Instagram!).

Step 4: Trace paper letters onto plywood

Once the paper stencil templates are made, mark the perimeter of the paper letter template onto the plywood using a pencil. You’ll be sanding the letters later, so it’s ok if some pencil gets inside the letter lines.

Now it’s time to cut out the shapes to make the wooden letters!

Using a scroll saw to cut out wood letters for kids toys
How to make wooden letters: A DIY woodworking project
Sanding diy wood letters
How to make wooden letters: A DIY woodworking project

Step 5: Cut out the wooden letters

Now it’s time to cut out the wooden letters using a scroll saw. This is the trickiest part of learning how to make wooden letters – especially if you’re new to using a scroll saw.

Again, follow all instructions and safety precautions for your particular equipment and surroundings.

Hand-sanding wooden alphabet letter s
How to make wooden letters: A DIY woodworking project
Using a nail file to sand a wooden letter smooth
How to make wooden letters: A DIY woodworking project
How to make wooden letters
How to make wooden letters: A DIY woodworking project

Step 6: Sand the wood letters

Once the shapes are cut out, they’ll need to be sanded to have smooth edges. We used plain sandpaper for most of the letters and edges. You may be able to save time by using a sander, but we found this to be the best way.

The edges can be a bit tricky though, especially with curved letters like “S”! For these, we used a nail file and it did the trick.

We chose to leave ours as natural wood, but you could totally add fun colored scrapbook paper with some mod podge glue if you wanted to personalize the design more.

If you’re creative enough, you could also skip the mod podge and paint your own design. The internet is filled with fun ideas for design inspiration – Just pick whatever matches your style!

Handmade wooden letters on a gathre alphabet mat
How to make wooden letters: A DIY woodworking project

Step 7: Enjoy your newest DIY project

There you have it! Wipe the excess sawdust off and you’ve got yourself a new set of DIY wooden letters to play with (or hang up and decorate with).

Making wooden letters

These DIY wood letters were a fun woodworking project and are now a wonderful toy for the kids! They also love having their names in wooden letters on the doors of their rooms.

Plus, it’s a great way to save a bit of money (buying them can add up!).

I have a feeling we might be making more letters from wood for future projects since there are lots of other places these could be used or displayed!

Have you created DIY wooden letters? We would love to see them!

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a digital content creator and mom of three. She is also an engineer and bit of a plant nerd too. She has been featured by publications such as Real Simple, Mother Earth News, Homes & Gardens, and Family Handyman.

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