Rustic Birch Wood Table Numbers

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If you are planning a rustic themed wedding, these birch round table numbers will be perfect for you!

This idea came to me when my fiancee told me he had to take a few limbs off the birch tree in our backyard. I had him cut one of the pieces into (20) 1/2 inch cross sections using an electric chop saw, but if you don’t have a dying birch tree or a fiancee with a knack for carpentry, you can buy wood birch rounds at your local craft store.

Supplies:

  • Scissors
  • Printout of your numbers in the desired font and size (if not free handing)
  • Paintbrush (I used a 1 inch synthetic fiber brush)
  • Woodburning tool (they are about $8-$12 online or in craft stores)
    • OR a new black or brown Sharpie marker
  • Colored chalk
  • A coin
  • Modge Podge (I like the Matte one for this project)

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Step 1: I went online, opened a new Google Doc, (they have so many great fonts compared to MSWord) and typed out the numbers 1-20 into the document. Then I played around with fonts until I found the one I really liked.

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Once you find the right font, then you need find the right size. Change the zoom so that you are looking at 100%. That means you are seeing exactly the same size that will print out. I tried a size I thought would work and held up the rounds to my screen to make sure it covered the numbers and wasn’t too big or too small. I changed the size and “re-measured” a few times to get it just right–this is a bit of a Goldilocks-type process. Once they are the right size you are ready to print your numbers.

Step 2: Cut out each number from your template and chose a wood round for each one. The two-digit numbers (12,13,15, etc.) will require slightly larger rounds than single digit numbers.

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Next, flip the number cut outs so they are number side down and trace the number in colored chalk (use a darker color like blue or purple so you can see it really well). They will be backwards—that is okay. Use a heavy hand here; the darker your chalk numbers the easier it will be to see when you are wood burning.

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Step 3: Next, take the chalk side of the paper down, and place it on the wood cross section. Use one hand to hold it steady and the coin in the other hand to rub over the number. Rub over the number thoroughly and then remove the paper. What is left behind will be a perfect stenciling of the number.

Now, you can decide if you would like to use a wood burning technique or a sharpie to trace your numbers. Wood burning is a little more time consuming but gives a really neat effect. Below you can see the difference.

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Tips if you go the sharpie route:

  • Get a new sharpie. You will want a nice sharp tip to work with.
  • Choose your sharpie based on your font. You’ll want an extra fine point for most script fonts but a regular fine tip will work best for most other fonts.
  • Use your sharpie to draw in the direction of the woodgrain. This will help prevent the ink from bleeding into wider areas.

Tips for wood burning:

  • Make sure the room is well ventilated as the wood will smoke while you work.
  • Work slowly and use long strokes to get an even burn.
  • You can always go back over spots that are too light; this medium is very forgiving that way.

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Step 6: Once you finish, you will want to seal the wood to keep it from warping. As you can see in the tutorial photos, the ones I did here have a bit of separation occurring between the bark and the wood. These rounds were left unsealed for about 2 weeks. As they dry out the wood contracts leaving that space between wood and bark. The ones I did for my table numbers were sealed right away and that did not happen, as you can see below.

To seal them, I recommend using Modge Podge on an acrylic paintbrush to coat one side and the bark edge with a thin layer. Let it dry about 10-15 minutes then apply a second thin layer. Once this side is dry you can flip it over and coat the back too. You will want to seal both the front and back to prevent any warping.

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Variations:

  • Drill a hole into the edge and insert a small dowel to make these stand up in a vase as part of your flower arrangements.
  • Cut a flat spot on the bottom edge or make them wider cuts of wood to have them stand alone.
  • Use sharpies in your wedding color to add more personalization.
  • Use this technique to make other decorations for your wedding.

If you decide to make these please comment below with a picture—I would love to see your take on them!

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