Custom house numbers


Since before we painted the outside of the house I’ve been looking for some nice house numbers. There’s lots of great options if you’re looking for mid-century modern or arts and crafts, but Victorian? Not so much. I realize that address numbers were probably not fancy if you lived in a cottage in 1900, but this place needs some gussying up. And I believe the functional necessities in life can and should be beautiful. Not boring.

I was considering painting an address plaque but my brush skills are hit or miss. And then I remembered Ponoko. It’s a website where you can upload 2-D or 3-D designs and have them cut out of a variety of materials (wood, felt, metal, plastic, etc). I’ve been looking for an excuse to try out their service for a while and coming up with a design on the computer is more my speed.

I started with some fonts I liked and checked out how these particular numbers looked together. If you don’t have a lot of interesting fonts at your disposal, go to a site like and download some for free. The grouping of “834” looked a little off balance in the font I chose, so I brought it into Illustrator and added a flourish to the 8 and gave the whole thing a stroke to give it more weight (the original font was a little too thin/light). That step isn’t necessary, but you will need a program like Illustrator if you want to prepare files for Ponoko. Once you have the design how you want it, you download a template based on size and kind of cutting you want and fit your design into it. The templates come with instructions on how to prepare your artwork (see top image).

I decided to have them cut from MDF because it’s cheap, it’s about the thickness I wanted (6mm), and I’m planning on painting/weatherproofing the numbers anyway. Also unlike metal or acrylic, I can easily drill into the MDF if I want to. I’m not sure yet how I’ll mount the numbers, so that’s important. Ponoko charges by material + cutting time, so total cost for this came to about $20 plus ten more for shipping. Maybe more expensive than your big-box home store, but less than high-end or custom.

They’ll probably arrive in a couple of weeks. I’ll keep you posted!