To celebrate my fiance's 30th birthday (the biggest Harry Potter fan I know) I decided to make this replica of the Hogwarts Express sign first seen in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. After looking at countless pictures online and some other fan-made creations I settled on this design.
The biggest worry I had making the sign was painting on the lettering without making it look like a 5-year-old did it. I soon realized I could print the lettering instead :) This tutorial goes through the steps I took to create the sign. The STL files are the letters and 9 3/4 symbol, ready to print based on the size of my sign.
The STL files include the letters for each word, "HOGWARTS" and "EXPRESS". These fit on my Wanhao Duplicator bed (8" x 8"). Be sure to scale the text accordingly if it's larger or smaller than mine. There are modeling programs online (SketchUp, 123D) that can break the letters apart in case you need to print them individually.
The name of the font is Perpetua Titling MT, which you can download for free online.
- (1) 32" x 11" x 1/2" piece of plywood. These dimensions end up working really well with the size and spacing of the letters. I ended up using a shelf board, which can be purchased at most home improvement stores. The dimensions of the board are very close to what I need
- (4) 1/2" x 4'L square wooden dowels, long enough to cover the perimeter of the sign on both sides. You may decide you only want your lettering on one side of the sign, in which case you'll only need (2)
- (2) 1/2" x 1/2" x 10'L Base Shoe Moulding. Can also be found in many home improvement stores. This is the rounded portion that goes inside the 1/2" square dowel perimeter. Not absolutely necessary but gives the sign more dimension. Only (1) needed if doing one side of the sign
- (2) Screw-eyes, which allow you to hang the sign off the bracket
- (2) Hogwarts crest sticker, found on Amazon. Again, only need (1) if you're doing one side of the sign
- (1) 36"L bracket to hang the sign from. I found mine on Amazon
- Spray Paint (see additional details below)
- Wood glue for attaching the dowels/moulding to the sign
- Superglue for attaching the printed lettering to the sign
- Miter Saw. This is probably the most important tool. The ends of the 1/2" dowels & 1/2" moulding are cut at a 45 degree angle. This is very difficult to do freehand and a Miter Saw (or hand saw and Miter box) are essential
- Circular saw or table saw. For cutting the plywood to size
- Clamps for securing the dowels & moulding in place while the glue dries
- Drill. Two holes need to be drilled for the screweyes to go into
- Sandpaper for preparing your surfaces for priming
- Painter's Tape
- Krylon Fusion - Satin Color. This is the primary red color that goes on the majority of the sign, including the edges
- Rustoleum Metallic - Gold Color. The letters and perimeter of the sign are painted with this color
- Black acrylic paint. I painted the lettering on the 9 3/4 symbol with this. You can also print the symbol in two different colors (black & white), which would eliminate the need for this paint
- Primer. Any primer will do, just make sure you're using it since it helps the paint adhere to the parts better
- Cut your plywood. My sign is 32"L x 11"W. Your sign may be different dimensions. If you choose a different dimension just be sure to keep the same aspect ratio (length/width). In other words, scale the height and width by the same percentage. Later on when you print your letters you'll need to scale them by the same amount
- Cut your square dowels. The ends of the dowels should be mitered at 45 degrees so they match up at the corners. Prime and paint the dowels with the metallic gold spray paint (only paint the side that will be facing outward)
- Cut your moulding. The moulding goes inside your dowel perimeter, so the pieces will be approximately 1" shorter than the dowels. Miter the ends at 45 degrees just like the dowels
- Dry fit your pieces on the plywood to make sure everything lines up and looks good
- Glue your dowels and moulding to the perimeter of the plywood. I glued the dowels first, clamped them into place, and let it dry before gluing the moulding
- Painting time! Use painter's tape to cover the gold paint you already put on the dowels, then sand, prime, and paint the entire sign (including edges) red. I recommend two coats of paint
- Print your lettering. Use the STL files to print your lettering and 9 3/4 logo, preferably using white filament. The letters are sized for a 32" x 11" sign. If your sign is larger/smaller then you'll need to scale your letters accordingly. Optional: Print the 9 3/4 logo using white for the base layers, then pausing the print and using black for the numbers and outer circle
- Paint your lettering. Prime your letters & logo. Paint the letters metallic gold. You will need to paint the outer circle and numbers a black color using your acrylic paint and a paintbrush (you can see my sloppy work in one of the photos)
- Dry fit the letters & logo on the sign. The logo sits on the center of the sign.
The letters are a little trickier. I used an extra piece of the 1/2" dowel as a guide. I placed the dowel along the bottom of the 1/2" moulding, then placed the letter above the dowel.
This gave me a consistent 1/2" space from the bottom of the letters to the moulding
- Glue the letters & logo in place. I used superglue for each letter, and one at a time, glued them into place, using the extra dowel as my guide
- Locate the sticker. The sticker goes near the edge of the sign. It's not shown in the pictures but I have the sticker on the same location on both sides of the sign (opposite where the sign bracket is located). So when you look at it from one side the sticker is above the "HO" letters, and on the other side it's above the "ESS" letters
- Install the screweyes. I drilled two holes at the top of the sign, being careful the drill bit is vertical so you don't drill through the side of the sign. The holes are spaced the same as the hanging holes on the sign bracket
- Mount your bracket and hang it! You're done! Congrats!