I’ve been wanting to add a ginormous vintage arrow sign to my living room for ages, but after some preliminary internet research, I realized that an actual salvaged arrow sign would cost a lot. Especially one that blinks, is powered by a battery pack, is lightweight and is also energy efficient. Oh yeah, those don’t exist. This kind of situation is precisely why I DIY – I’m cheap, and I want the impossible. To the craft room!
1 30×40 inch piece of foamcore
1 22×28 inch piece of foamcore (same thickness as the 30×40 piece)
school or tacky glue
small straight pins with flat tips
toothpick or nail
enough LED string lights to fit along the perimeter of your sign
Before you begin, note that you can make this any size you want, but my instructions will be for how to make a 92 inch long sign.
Cut out the arrow
Using a pencil, ruler and x-acto knife, carefully measure and cut your large piece of foamcore into 7 rectangles: 11×40 (1), 11×38 (1), 2×11 (1), 2×40 (4). Those 7 rectangles perfectly add up to a 30×40 inch rectangle like this:
Then use your other piece of foamcore (I just used a scrap piece I had laying around) to make a triangle for the head of your arrow and 2 inch wide rectangles to edge it. I didn’t use any special geometry trick for the triangle, for what it’s worth. My triangle’s about 14 inches tall.
Assemble the arrow
Assembling the arrow consists of gluing the 2-inch edge pieces all along the perimeter of your arrow. Draw a line of glue along the top of your foamcore where you want to attach a 2-inch edge piece.
Place your edge piece onto the glue line.
Secure with straight pins by pushing a few straight through the bottom of the foamcore, through the glue and into the 2-inch edge piece of foamcore. This step is almost like constructing your arrow with wood and nails instead of foamcore and straight pins.
To form a corner, which you’ll do for the butt of the arrow and the arrow’s head, simply draw glue along the L-shaped corner where your foamcore comes together. Place the appropriate piece of foamcore, and then secure it in place on the two sides the glue were applied.
Since my arrow is so long, I had a couple places where the backing of the arrow and the sides needed to be glued and tacked together. The trick there is to run glue along the appropriate edges, place the foamcore, and then tack the pieces together with two pins, forming an X inside the foam core. Let all glue dry completely before the next phase.
The pin pictured sticking out was later pushed in.
Painting & adding the lights
Paint all along the outside and top edge of the arrow, leaving the backing and inside edges white to reflect as much light as possible.
Poke a hole in the bottom corner of your arrow with a straight pin and use a nail or toothpick to enlarge the hole.
Unwind your LEDs and feed them through the hole.
My arrow required two strands of the LEDs I purchased, so I fed both strands through the one hole.
My LEDs came on a string of two fine wires, which made placing the lights simple. All I did was pin them into place with the same straight pins I assembled the arrow with. The sharp end of the pins stuck out the back, so I carefully bent down the pointy ends on the back side of my sign, making them flush with the back of the arrow.
That’s it! All you have to do is hang your arrow on the wall. My LEDs are powered by AA batteries. The battery packs came with a slot for wall-mounting, so I have the battery packs mounted right next to my arrow for when I want to turn my sign on.
See the sign in action:
Look familiar? I originally designed this tutorial for BuzzFeed DIY.