How to: Make a DIY Wooden Pennant

created at: 05/25/2011

Last week, my friend Kelly shared these awesome wooden pennants on her site, Design Crush. I loved the way they evoked such a classic shape, but avoided the cheap felt look, and opted for woodgrain.

The designs there weren’t really my style, so I decided to have a go at making my own.

You should, too! Here’s how.  

Materials and tools:

  • Thin plywood or wood veneer sheet
  • Saw or craft knife
  • Straight-edge, pencil, ruler
  • Sticker paper, roll vinyl, or contact paper
  • Ink, acrylic paint, or spray paint
  • Stencil or sponge brush
  • Wood finish – mineral oil, stain, polyurethane, etc.

created at: 05/25/2011

1. Source your material. You can use 1/4″ plywood, wood veneer, basswood, or whatever you can find. Use something you know you can cut – all of these can be cut easily with a coping saw (inexpensive, hand powered), circular saw, or jigsaw. If that’s beyond your comfort level, get veneer or basswood, and cut it with a craft knife or utility blade. I found a well-sized piece of 3/8″ baltic birch in my scrap pile, which i planed down to 1/4″. My starting size was 9 x 21″.

created at: 05/25/2011

2. Create the pennant shape on the wood by finding the center point of one side and then drawing two lines to the opposite corners. With my sheet, that made for 13.5° angle from the baseline. (I think I remember that right from geometry class.)

created at: 05/25/2011

3. Then, cut out the shape. If using a jigsaw, circular saw, or knife, use a straight-edge to get the best cut. I used the miter gauge on my table saw, set to the 13.5° angle, simply because I have a really nice blade in there, and it makes for the best quality of cut. You don’t need one to make this work. Don’t fear!

created at: 05/25/2011

4. For the design, I just opted for some basic text. I used one of the pay-what-you-can typefaces from Lost Type, mimicking the pennant shape using Adobe Illustrator. (I’m sure you could do this with a word processor or image program easily.)
 created at: 05/25/2011

5. Then, print out your design onto sticker paper or vinyl, and cut it out using a craft knife. Since I wanted to use my stencil twice, I made it easy on myself by flipping it, and then adhering it to the bottom of a screen. If you don’t have screenprinting supplies, that’s no problem. Just use it as a stencil, and it’ll look just the same.

created at: 05/25/20116. You could easily use spray paint on your stencil, which would fast and easiest. I love spray paint, but it’s tough to find colors I like, so I mixed up some ink into a custom shade.

I printed the blue, and allowed it to dry.

created at: 05/25/2011

7. Then, I reused the same stencil to print the image a second time, placing it just a little to the right for an offset look. I used a sponge “spouncer” brush, to get a some variation in the color value. That was an intentional move. You could easily get a solid fill with the same technique.

Then, I used mineral oil (from the drug store) to finish the wood. Just wipe it on, and allow to penetrate for fifteen minutes, and wipe off any excess. Using something oil-based guaranteeing that I wouldn’t smear my acrylic-based (water-soluable) ink. I added a coat of paste wax, to preserve it and add a nice luster.

Fun, right? Lemme know what you think, or ask questions, in the comments below.