This is 12 Super Tips for Making String Art. In this guide, I’ll give you 12 great ways to make your string art look more professional, more polished, and stand out from all of the other pieces that you seen. On top of that, each one is pretty easy. Enjoy.
Making String Art
String art is a really popular woodworking project. The attraction is that there are so many different designs to choose from, and there is a million different ways to put together a piece that looks truly amazing.
Another great part about string art is that it’s not super difficult. This means somebody with modest woodworking skills and only a few basic tools can still put together a string art project that looks professionally made.
You don’t need to have any expensive equipment, or learn any techniques that take a long time to master. All you really need are a few small and inexpensive tools, and some time to play around and experiment with your design ideas.
In this post I’m going to give you several tips that’ll help you take your string art to the next level. Each of these is very easy to accomplish, and they will make a huge difference in the appearance of your projects.
Here’s the list, and I’ll go into each one of them in deep detail further down in the post.
- Choose a Great Design
- Select a Nice Background
- Use a Template for the Design
- Create Your Own Template
- Select the Right Nails
- Use More Than One Nail Type
- Use More than One Thread Color
- Use More than One Thread Thickness
- Mark Your Holes With a Punch First
- Use a Drill Press to Make Holes
- Make the Nails an Even Height
- Think About Color and Pattern
Choose a Great Design
First and foremost, one of the absolute best tips that I can share with you about making string art is to choose a great design. Your starting point makes a big difference, and in the end it’s difficult to make a poor design look really good.
What makes a good design is going to be a little bit subjective, but in general you need to look for a design that is readable, and that makes a good use of the space. It should be apparent what the design is, and it should be something that you like.
And example of a good design would be a coffee cup with swirling coffee and rising steam that’s made from several colors of string. This is a great design for a lot of reasons, and has a lot more pop than a basic design.
The other big difference in a good design is that it doesn’t really take that much more effort to execute then a basic design. That being said, choose something that you like, and something that you will enjoy making.
Starting out with a good design will give you motivation and momentum to complete the project, especially if it requires hundreds of nails or more. Sometimes a little extra motivation will get you through the middle of a big project like that, so start out strong.
See Also: How to Make String Art
Select a Nice Background
The string art portion of the project is not the only star of the show. While the string and the nails do get the majority of the attention, the background or backer board is also a very important part of the look.
When you create your project, select a nice looking backer board that complements the design really well. You can make backers out of a number of different materials, you can also stain, paint, or color them any way that you choose to match your look.
I recommend that you match the look of the backer to the design. If you have a rustic looking design, then choose a rustic looking backer board. In contrast, if you have a modern design, then choose a more modern style for your board.
Take a little time and look at proportion, and design styles. There are certain ratios like 3:2, 1:2, and 1:1 that have pleasing looks. If you create a backer in these proportions, it will have an eye-catching size that adds to the overall look of your project.
Lastly, spend time finishing your backer board. Don’t just take a piece of MDF and hammer nails in it unless that’s the look you are going for specifically. Take the time to make the board and have a finished look, and you’ll be happy with the overall results.
See Also: The Secret to Making String Art
Use a Template for the Design
A template is what will help you create a design that looks extremely even and professional for your string art. Templates are awesome things for many reasons, and the number one of those reasons is uniformity and repeatability.
If you just haphazardly slam nails into a hand drawn design without really looking at your proportions and evenness, you can end up with a design that doesn’t look very good. In contrast, when you use a template you create a much more even design.
There are a lot of other great reasons to use a template, but the biggest reason is to help you place your nails, keep them even, and not make any mistakes on the design. The results will be a perfect layout every time, and a good starting point for your string art.
Templates are also very easy to find, and they don’t actually have to be labeled as a string art template in order to function as one. A good line drawing can give you all of the information that you need to be used as a template.
In this sense, template is really just a way to place your design on the wood in order for you to mark out the locations for the nails. This means that just about any drawing will work, and create a great template for your string art.
See Also: String Art Kits for Adults
Create Your Own Template
The steps are creating your own template are pretty easy, and I cover the entire process in detail in the article at the bottom of this section. However, here is the basic process so you have an idea of what you’re getting into.
It starts by finding a line drawing of the subject matter that you plan on creating into string art. You find those designs, print them out, and enlarge or reduce them to fit on your backer board and into your design.
After that, you leave those drawings out on your board, and secure them in place with tape in order to start marking for the nails. Using a pointed object like an awl, mark out your nail locations on the drawings, and then remove the templates.
When you do, you’ll notice that you have all of your nail locations indented into the surface of your backer board. Now, all you have to do is follow up and you’ll know exactly where the placement of your nails needs to be all thanks to your custom templates.
Select the Right Nails
Another great tip for making string art is about the type of nails that you use. Not all nails are good for string art, but in general most nails will work. It kind of depends on what type of string you are using, but in general this is a good guide.
Select nails that have heads on them which are larger than the shafts. This will help prevent your string from sliding off, and give your nails that classic look. They can be a number of different diameters, as long as the head is bigger.
Even extremely thin nails will work, as long as the head is a little bit larger, which lets you get your string underneath near the top without slipping off. That’s the point of the heads, to keep the string from slipping off as you are winding string around your design.
That being said, unless it’s part of the look avoid nails whose heads are overly large. You will notice immediately some nails have almost a cartoon size head, like roofing nails. These are not the best for string art, because they don’t allow very close nail placement.
Use More Than One Nail Type
There’s nothing wrong with using more than one type of nail in your design, and it’s actually a good idea to use at least two different types. This introduces variation to your designs, and gives you more options to work with.
This could be as simple as using one size and thickness of nail for certain elements of design, and using another size and thickness for other elements. For example, you could do all tree trunks with one nail, and you all leaves with another.
When you combine different sizes of nails, you create a point of interest. The heads being different add a dimension and depth to a project that can be fairly one dimensional if you don’t pay attention to these details.
Use More than One Thread Color
Something that is often overlooked when people make their own string art patterns is the color of the thread or string that they use. When you are making a nice string art piece, try to use more than one color of string.
The color of the string is how you differentiate different parts of the project from one another. You can use a million different colors if that’s what you want, but make sure that on any design you use at least two colors.
This is a very easy way to differentiate your project from other string art projects that only use one color of string. It’s also a very easy way to add depth and another dimension to the project without really doing anything that differently.
Blue string wraps around nails just as easily as red string, and if your eyes were closed you wouldn’t notice the difference between the two. However when people look at your final project, their eyes will be open, and they will notice a very big difference.
You could also have a little fun with your templates by coloring in the different sections with the different colors that you will then wrap with string. It’s a way for you to look at your design and color and make any changes before you spend the time wrapping your thread.
Use More than One Thread Thickness
This tip is also very helpful when you make your string art, and that’s to use more than one thickness of a thread or string. You all should already be using more than one color, and adding thickness is also an easy way to add dimension and depth.
Just like with color, wrapping a thicker or thinner string around nails is not that much different from one to the other. However the look that it creates is very different, and you can add weight to certain sections depending on the thickness you use.
Obviously there is an upper limit, but you can use nearly anything from as thin as sewing thread all the way up to cord that might be close to an eighth of an inch in diameter. There is a big contrast and weight there, and you can use that for effect.
See Also: 15 Great Places to Get Woodworking Wood
Mark Your Holes With a Punch First
One of the best things that you can do on any piece of string art as you are creating your design layout is to mark all of the nail holes with a punch or an awl. This takes all of the guesswork out of the next steps, and helps create an even placement for your nails.
This is where patience is extremely important, and rushing can ruin a very good looking project before it’s even completed. Take your time during this step, because right now you’re planting the seeds for what your final project is going to look like.
Take your time and mark all your nail locations as perfectly as you can. The amount of effort that you place on this step is directly proportional to how your project will look in the end. If you rush, and have the uneven placement, your project will look poor.
Commit to spending as much time as you need to to get this part of the project right. The placement of the nails is a large part of the look, and thankfully it’s an easy project but it just takes a little bit more time and can test your patience a pinch.
Don’t fall for rushing through this part. Don’t fool yourself. You can do it, all you need to do is just keep moving forward and eventually you will punch all of the nail locations and leave a perfect indent on the surface to follow up with later.
See Also: How to Make Unique Cutting Boards
Use a Drill Press to Make Your Holes
This is probably the biggest secret to making straight hole. A lot of people think in the beginning that you have to hammer in all of those nails in order to make string art. In reality, that’s not the case, and there’s a much easier way to do it instead.
The trick to making outstanding string art is to use a drill or even better a drill press to make all of your holes. Not only is this much easier than hammering all the nails, it makes the process a lot more even, and the nails a lot straighter.
You can buy an inexpensive drill press for less than $100. If you’re serious about making string art, and you plan on making several pieces, this is probably the best investment that you can make. It will change the way you build, and your designs will look very professional.
All you need to do is choose a drill bit that is just a tiny bit smaller than the diameter of the nails you are using. Drill all of those marks that you made with the awl or punch on your design, and you’ll be able to tap the nails in place instead of hammering.
The nails will all go in at an even depth, and they will be perfectly straight. This will create a professional look, and make your string art shine. It also makes the process a lot easier, faster, and in general more enjoyable than beating nails in place.
Make the Nails an Even Height
Something that screams amateur with certain pieces of string art is when the nails are not all the same height. Unless you have several different groups of nails that are different sizes and different heights, they all should be uniform.
Get a case for using multiple different types of nails, keep all of the same type of nails the same depth into the wood, which means they will stick out at the same height. This makes them all look uniform and even, and imparts a professional look to your piece.
If you’re using a drill press, simply set a depth stop. This way, all of your holes will be the same depth, which means when you tap your nails to the bottom of the holes, the portion that sticking out will all be the same height. This is another advantage of the drill press.
And easy way to check is to look at your design from the side. If you see any nails that are too high, give them a gentle tap to bring them down in line with the rest. Check the piece from all four sides, and it should be pretty easy to address any tall nails.
See Also: 50 Awesome Reasons to be a Woodworker
Think About Color and Pattern
On top of simply winding different colors of string around your nails, you can also do quite a bit of pattern work in your designs. This is where you wind your string or thread in a certain way to create a pattern in the lines.
Some string art is intentionally a mishmash of threads that almost creates solid patches of color. However, you can also use the layout of the string itself as an additional design element, and create an eye-catching pattern.
You will have to play around with this of course, because patterns are largely a matter of experimentation, but it’s easy to do. Next time you have a project, simply try going from one nail to the next and then back to the first every time.
This way, you’ll create a series of fans or fingers that head from the first nail to each other nail independently, and I can create a nice pattern. Experiment and play around with this technique, and you’ll easily discover several ways that you can make interesting looking patterns.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know 12 awesome ways to take your string art to the next level, it’s time to head out into the shop and put some of these ideas into practice. If you need to go to the store to pick up some materials first, go ahead, or just order them from Amazon.
Once you have a different materials, come up with a nice template that you want to work with, maybe even something kind of sample to test out your materials. A flower, a tree, or several geometric shapes is a good place to start.
Practice applying a template, and getting it set up properly. Practice marking your nail locations evenly, and then drilling the locations to the same depth. Place your nails just as if you were doing a real project, not just a practice run.
Now, you can experiment with your different thicknesses and colors of thread. Try different patterns as well, and see what you like. All you need to do is play around with the project and you will naturally stumble upon things that you like to do.
If you have any questions about 12 super tips for making string art, please Post a Question in the Q&A Forum and I’ll be glad to help. Happy building.
- More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
- 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
- Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
- Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post.