Distressed Wood Map Monogram Tutorial

We’ve been in need of art for our home for quite some time now.  We rented our last home and never really felt like we could hang much on the walls, so during our one and a half years there, we kept most of our accessories and wall art stored away.  Since buying all of those things years ago and not using them, my style has changed.  I went through a couple tubs of old stuff the other day and I ended up donating a lot of it.  It just wasn’t “us” anymore.  So, I have a need for new accessories and artwork for this house – which we own and are hoping to stay in a bit longer!  :)
I want to try to create some art for this house since it is cheaper than going out and buying all new accessories.  We’ve been updating the house little by little and don’t have a lot of money left over for accessories.  While we were in Holland, MI a couple months ago, I saw inspiration for this wooden map letter and the idea came to me.  I knew it would be such a fun and personal piece.

As you can probably assume, the “H” is special to our family because it is the first letter of our last name.  The Michigan map is important to us because it is where we live.  I had to adjust the map a bit to make it fit on the letter, but I was able to get all the cities where we’ve lived together so far on there.  I like that the whole project has a very special meaning to our family!

Here are the steps to make a distressed wood map monogram of your very own:
Buy a 2×2 foot piece of birch plywood (you can really use whatever type of wood you want) and trace out your letter.
Cut your letter using a jigsaw.  (Or get your husband to help with these first couple steps!)  It doesn’t matter if your cutting job isn’t perfect.  The imperfections just add to the distressed charm of the piece.
Stain your letter on all surfaces.

Wipe off excess stain after 5-10 minutes and let the stain dry.
Cut out the rough shape and size you’ll need, so you don’t have a ton of extra paper to get in the way.  Crumple up your state map (or whatever map you choose) to give it a more worn look.
After the stain is totally dry, coat one side of your letter with ModPodge.  Wait 30 seconds and coat with another coat.
Place map onto letter and smooth out.  Smooth it down so that there are no air bubbles, but don’t get too detailed with the smoothing.  You want the map to have a little bit of texture to it – the reason we crumpled it up a couple steps ago!
Wait about 15 minutes and flip your letter over.  Using an exacto-type knife, cut off the excess map.  Don’t worry about getting it perfect.
As usual, get excited about how fun this project is going to turn out!  :)

Next, sand the edges of your letter.  This is done partially to get that excess paper map off, but also to distress it a bit.  Sand a bit heavier in spots…especially the corners.

Here are a couple more shots of the distressed letter.

Grab that stain you used to stain the letter.  Dip a paper towel in the stain, pull it out, and let it soak in for several seconds.  You don’t want the paper to be too wet or you’ll use way too much stain.  You need to be a little light-handed on this part.
Stain the edges of the letter.  Once you’ve stained the edges, rub the almost dry paper towel all over the face of the letter, rubbing harder in spots.  You may add more stain to your paper towel if you aren’t getting the effect you want.  Just make sure to let it dry a little or else you’ll have dark stain spots that might not look so great.

Let your letter set for at least 10-20 minutes.  Then top with three coats of Mod Podge – waiting approximately 15 minutes between coats.

And there you have it!  Your distressed wood map letter monogram!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  If you decide to try this for yourself, be sure to share your project with me either in a comment here or on my facebook page.  I’d love to see what you come up with!

* I used this tutorial from Tidy Mom to help me with this project.

**Linking up with Thirty Handmade Days and Gussy Sews along with the rest of my “usual” parties.  Check out my new “Where I Party” tab near the top of my blog to see where I share my projects every week!

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  1. I just love this. I bought some letters EAT and I need to find an old cookbook or something . Thanks for the tip on how to do it!

  2. So clever!! I just assumed you bought an H at a craft store…but no. You (and that hubs) are just too cool for school. LOVE!

  3. That is really cute! I like how you stained the letter first so when you distressed it that sort of shows and the edges are dark. I also love the fact taht it means something – I like decor pieces like that!

  4. This looks great!! I’ve featured your blog for an award! Head over to see for more details :)

    - Fotini { http://glamorousbride.blogspot.com }

  5. I love this! I have been trying to come up with a way to incorporate a map into our office area… this is a great idea. Thanks for sharing the tutorial!

  6. hi there, your newest follower…i just love maps, anything maps, this turned out just so cute! i love it! hugs kat =^.^= ps found you on Savvy Southern Style and I love your style! :)

  7. Another beautiful project…. I love that you stained the letter before you put the map on. So pretty!

    Take care,


  8. Love this! Hope you will come by and share at Creative Things Thursday. http://www.thevintagefarmhouse.com/

  9. Very cool! I love it! I love anything decorated with a map.I’d love for you to share this at my party, Twirl & Take a Bow at http://www.houseontheway.com. Hope to see you there!

  10. So cute! That dark stain is gorgeous!
    Chrissy @ Everyday with the Jays

  11. great tutorial. I have wanted to make some mod podged letters but didn’t want to shell out $20! Can’t wait to see more of your projects

  12. This is a great project! I love that you made the letter yourself! And staining the edges really made it look even better! Thanks for sharing it!

  13. Great project! Thanks for the tutorial, your ‘H’ is fabulous.

  14. What a successful project this turned out to be. It looks really nice, Allison

  15. I really love this!! I found you over at Gussy Sews!! Great job! Pinned!

  16. Hi! I also found you over at Gussy Sews! Love this letter! I’ve been collecting all letters for an alphabet wall, and this would be a fun one to make!

    Have a great weekend,


  17. I have been saving an old map of Texas for some sort of project and I think I just found it. Love this!

  18. I got this website from my buddy who told me regarding
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