The Kindness of Old Woodworkers

I’ve decided to teach myself how to route wood signs.  One reason is for Christmas gifts this year, and hopefully start making custom signs for customers.

I’ve been following a “how-to” video series on Youtube on how to route wood signs free-hand.  Basically you have hardboard letters that you layout how you want, you spray-paint over them, and then you route out the outline.  Here is my first attempt.

Routed Wood Sign

Not perfect, but acceptable.  The Texas was easier to cut than the letters.

The letters I used here are 3 inch letters.  I’ve been cutting letters to glue onto signs so I had a good supply.  After much debate I decided I would rather carve them with a router as I doubt hardboard will hold up to the elements (no matter how much spar urethane I put on it).

Bandsaws can only cut so small, then a scroll saw is required.  In order to get the lay-out letters I needed it would be either a lot of cash or a lot of time, neither of which I have extra of.  Even with a 1/8 inch blade I would have trouble cutting 1.5 inch and smaller letters.

Thankfully there is an elderly man in my church that shares a passion for woodworking.  He does amazing work with a scroll saw and makes and sells beautiful wind chimes.  I recruited him to cut my letters, in return I’m going to make a few signs for his Christmas gift list.

While I was over at his house he gave me a sign making kit that he had.  This one: Milescraft 1212 Sign Pro Router Signmaking Jig

Milescraft Sign ProHe said he tried using it a few times but didn’t really like it.  He still had it in the original box.

So far I’ve made a couple of signs with the Sign Pro.  Part of me sees why he wasn’t crazy about it.  I’ll primarily use the layout letters to make my signs freehand.  It’s much more flexible in styling.  However, if I’m going to make a lot of the same sign I’ll set this jig up. Here are my first signs using this jig.  I used Cedar fencing for the wood.

The top three signs have a coat of Spray Spar Urethane.

The top three signs have a coat of Spray Spar Urethane.  I used cedar fence pickets from the lumber yard.

Once you get the jig set up its easy to change out the letters.  Not having a plunge router makes it easy to nick a letter.  I’m planning on adding a plunge router shortly after Christmas.

I’m thankful for generous old woodworkers.  Everyone in the woodworking community is good at some things and bad at others, or enjoys some things and would rather have a root-canal than do certain tasks.  I love that we can trade work and help each other out.  I hope to return the favor of both the free tool and a few hundred letters.  I also plan to “pay it forward.”

Here’s a sign I made freehand using the 1 1/2″ and 1″ layout letters. This is for my brother-in-law’s desk at his job.

2014-11-14 16.42.10

I used a 60-degree v-groove bit in my router.  I only have a fixed base router right now but it’s not hard to carve letters with it.

Merry Christmas,
Robert

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