I used some leftover cedar trim pieces and my painted bamboo stakes and ran over to Hobby Lobby to pick up a wood burning tool that ended up being less than $10 with a 40% off coupon. Not a bad price for as many garden markers as I cared to make.
Bamboo garden stakes
wood burning tool
1. Cut bamboo stakes to about 2 feet long (aprox. in half). If you're using a power saw, you'll need to cut them very slowly through so they don't split. If you're using a hand saw, don't use a really wide tooth saw.
2. Cut 1" thick wood (which is actually planed to more like 3/4") to about 2"x 3 1/2". The measurements don't have to be exact, but you probably want to make them all the same size. The less grain in the wood and the softer the wood, the easier it will be to burn the letters into it. Use new or reclaimed wood according to your preference. I used new because I had it and I know that cedar turns gray and looks pretty cool after the summer.
3. Drill an approximately 1" deep hole into the long edge of the wood block. Choose a drill bit that is similar in size to the end of the bamboo stake you're going to be pressing into the hole.
4. Using wood glue, fill the hole 3/4 of the way full and press the bamboo into the hole. Wipe off any puddling glue that oozes out. Let it dry for a few hours.
5. Print out templates of the herbs or veggies you want to make markers for. Draw over the words with a ball point pen pressing hard so it indents the words onto the wood. (I did this for my veggies)
You can just freehand the words onto the wood with a pencil. (I did this for my herb container)
You can buy the HotStamps Alphabet Set for the heating tool and just press the letters into the wood. (I was too cheep to do this, but it'd be the easiest)
6. Use the wood burning tool to burn the letters into the wood. The tool kind of caught a bit on each grain line on the cedar I used making it a little tricky, but if I was careful and didn't rush, I was able to get the job done. They aren't perfect, but they're pretty darn cute anyway. If you want perfection, use the alphabet set.
7. Leave the mess in the garage for your husband to clean up.
And you're done.