Custom Neon Signs: How to Make DIY Neon Signs on a Budget

I really wanted custom neon signs for the ‘I’m Enough’ thirtieth, but I couldn’t afford them. With neon signs making a real come back, there’s plenty of places in Sydney that will make a personalised sign, but you’re looking at about $500 a pop at the lower end of the spectrum. My homemade signs weren’t quite as polished as the real thing, but for under $90 each they made for the perfect custom neon signs on a budget.

Read full instructions on how to make my DIY custom neon signs below.

Materials:

Total budget = < $90

TIME FRAME:

These take the better part of a day to make. They were fiddly and a lot of work, but they turned out beautifully and I’ll keep them forever. I’ve got them on my wall!

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Method:

The first step was to write my desired text in chalk pen on the clear acrylic sheet. I made custom neon signs that read ‘I’m Enough’, ‘You’re Enough’ and ‘La Vie en Rose’ but you could write any message you like (you can also make these signs in any colour way). I used my own handwriting, but if you’re nervous you can always write (or print) your message on a large sheet of paper or newspaper first and lay this under the perspex to trace in chalk pen. The pen can also be wiped off the acrylic easily with a wet cloth if you make any mistakes.

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Looking at the text, I determined where the light would need to go in and out of the perspex (at the top and bottom of each letter) and drilled a hole (roughly 5mm or wide enough to fit the glow wire through) in each of these spots. Small bits of plastic will fly away from the hole while you drill, so you may want to wear a mask or goggles for this process.

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Thread the glow wire in and out through the holes. This process is a little like sewing, and you should start at the same end of the text where you would like the battery pack to hang. For example I chose to have my battery packs at the bottom right hand side of my text, so I started threading from the bottom right, with the first insertion of wire being inserted from the back towards the front.

Once the wire is fully threaded through the letters it will look messy and a little bit like this;

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I used super glue to secure the glow wire in place, following along the lines of the letters that I’d drawn. This is a little bit of a fiddly process, but because the wire is light it glues easily to the acrylic with just a little bit of super glue. The most difficult aspect is sharp corners, for example the middle bend of an ‘m’ - you’ll need to bend the wire tightly against itself, use a little extra glue, and hold the bend in place until the glue is fully dried.

Once the wire was secured in place, I wound opaque white tape around all of the wires that were exposed on the back side of the acrylic, so that only wire on the front of the sign was able to produce light. You can see before and after pictures of this below.

Before wrapping white tape;

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After wrapping white tape;

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As a final touch, I super-glued clear plastic surface guards (for chair legs) to the back of the acrylic at each of the four corners. This kept the signs propped a little off the wall and resting at an even level.

That’s it! Gorgeous DIY custom neon signs!

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