How to Make Your Own Award Plaques

Written by mercedes valladares
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How to Make Your Own Award Plaques
Design and personalise your own award plaque for a special award ceremony. (plaques commémoratives image by Philippe Minisini from

Designing a token of appreciation or a symbol for accomplishment generally entails an award plaque. Having the award made and engraved is often costly. Designing and creating your own saves money and also makes the recipient's award more personalised. By carving a piece of wood for the plaque's shape and engraving or carving the inscription, the plaque is personalised for the special award ceremony. Preparing the wood by sanding and priming allows the stain or paint to adhere smoothly onto the plaque's surface for a professional finish. A stencil allows the font to be applied with precision.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Plaque design
  • Pattern paper
  • Drafting pencils
  • Scissors
  • Steel tape measure
  • Wood (your choice)
  • Jigsaw
  • Protective gloves and eyewear
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Wood sealer
  • Brush applicator
  • Soft cloth or rag (optional)
  • Wood colour stain
  • Paintbrush
  • Stencil
  • Repositionable adhesive spray
  • Stencil brush
  • Acrylic paint
  • Engraving pen (optional)
  • Wood polish or varnish

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  1. 1

    Draw the plaque design on a piece of pattern paper using drafting pencils. Cut out the pattern with scissors. Keep in mind that you will carve out the plaque shape. Geometric shapes, such as squares or rectangles, have specified corners for beginner carvers; asymmetrical shapes require more skill.

  2. 2

    Measure the width and height of the plaque with a steel tape measure prior to purchasing the piece of wood you will use.

  3. 3

    Choose a piece of wood for the plaque, such as pine, fir, spruce, cedar or redwood. You can buy wood at your local home-improvement or lumber store.

  4. 4

    Cut or carve out the plaque shape with a jigsaw. Wear protective gloves and eyewear while cutting and carving the wood.

  5. 5

    Sand the cut-out wood plaque with fine-grit sandpaper. Make sure you smooth out the corners of the plaque as well. This process will smooth out any nubs or uneven textures in the wood. Brush or vacuum away any sawdust or debris from the wood.

  6. 6

    Apply a thin coat of wood sealer all over the plaque. Read your brand's instructions for drying time and application tools. Generally, a brush applicator or a soft cloth or rag is used to apply the coating. Once the coat is dry, repeat step 5 and sand again. You will have to apply the wood sealer again and let it dry. The sealer acts as a primer for the wood and prepares it for staining or paint application.

  7. 7

    Apply the wood colour stain, according to your brand's directions, with a paintbrush or rag. Make sure you apply and spread the stain evenly. Let it dry according to your brand's instructions. You can wipe off any excess wood stain with another rag or paper towels.

  8. 8

    Draw a stencil for the plaque, including the name of the recipient, the event or accomplishment, and the date. Choose a decorative font type or draw the letters freehand. Cut out the letters with your scissors to create the stencil.

  9. 9

    Apply a thin coat of repositionable adhesive spray to the back of the stencil and apply it to the plaque. Make sure the areas around the letters are adhered to the plaque to prevent paint from smudging or lodging underneath the stencil.

  10. 10

    Dip a stencil brush into acrylic paint and brush gently, in a top-to-bottom motion, over each letter in the stencil. Continue repeating this process until all the letters are painted. Carefully remove the stencil to avoid any paint lifting away from the plaque. Let the paint dry according to your brand's instructions. Another option is to engrave the plaque's information with an engraving pen. Wear protective eyewear while engraving the information.

  11. 11

    Add a coat of wood polish or varnish if you engraved the plaque, according to your brand's instructions. Use another clean rag or brush for the application. Though this step is optional, the coating will preserve the plaque and give it a professional glossy appearance.

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