How to Make Wooden Signs with A Router
Many people are aware of how much aesthetic value a wooden sign will bring to a place or property. Even so, most of these people don’t even have a clue of how these wooden signs are made. I didn’t. It took me quite some time before I finally got the real info on how these things are done.
Nonetheless, I was aware that wooden signs are retro and cool. They can make a wonderful gift and they can be customized the way you want until you finally land your desired design. That’s just it.
So how do you make these wooden signs?
Making wooden signs is no brainer at all. Read through this post today and you will find out how easy it is to make wooden signs. I will give you a step by step guide of how to make wooden signs with a router and end up with a polished and professional touch.
Let’s dig in and see how to go about it.
What You Need
Before you start on your wooden sign, there are a number of things that you will need. Here is every one of them.
- Router Bits
- Safety Glasses
- Grip Pad/ Rubber
- Design Template
- Carbon Paper/ Tracing Paper
With your tools and equipment ready, it is time to make your lovely wooden sign. Follow this simple guide to make a wooden sign of color and style.
Step I: Picture Your End Result
It is true that like any other project, you need to plan for your wooden sign. With the right planning, you’ll be able to get the best wooden sign for your needs.
When planning for your best wooden sign design, the very first thing that you have to actually figure out is the type and size of the board that you need. You should also take the size of the letters you want to gorge or carve in it.
The dimensions of the wooden sign are critical. However, the size and type of lettering must be your topmost concern. Irrespective of the size of the board that you are using, your letters should be visible. Even so, they shouldn’t be extra-large as they shouldn’t be too small either.
Remember, the bigger your letters are the smaller your board will be. In short, you’ll have to always sacrifice the size or space depending on the letters that you want to carve.
Step II: Layout Your Wooden Sign
Now that you have the picture of what you want your wooden sign to look like, it is time to lay it out.
Start by cutting out your shape of the sign. Do this on the white paper before you can make the duplicate.
You should have two papers. One paper will be used to cut the exact shape. The next paper will be used for laying out the design.
For the layout design, take the second paper and use it to draw out your image and also text in its actual size. Make sure that the position of every letter is on the exact place that you want it to be.
You should cover your white paper using a tracing paper before you draw over all the lines on that tracing paper using a felt-tipped marker pen. I love to use black.
Step III: Prepare Your Wooden Board
Once you have the layout, the next big thing is to prepare the board that you will be using. There are two ways to prepare your wooden board.
First, you can create your own wooden board while keeping in mind the correct size or you can buy a finished board.
Whatever you do, make sure that you have the right dimensions in place. Then trim any excess parts off. You can work on it from there. However, if you need a smooth finish for your end result, I suggest sanding every rough edge out until you get the beautiful and smooth finish you want.
Step IV: Draw Your Letters on the Board
This is the most challenging part for anyone who is learning how to make wooden signs with a router. Even so, you shouldn’t worry. There are two distinct ways that you can do this.
You can either draw the letters using a computer or you can do it by. The former is for efficiency while the latter is for the aesthetic countryside type. Whatever your needs, you can choose which option to go with.
Even so, while marking the letters with your marker, you’ll notice some drawings on the wood. Do not worry about these as you can always send them out after you are done. Keep the lines shallow to avoid any long time sanding.
TIP: In case you want the business sign, you will have to get the right font. You must also avoid too much style and instead ensure that everything is very accurate.
Step V: It is Time to Route
Routing on your wooden board is the easiest part of this job. It is simple, fast, and you will find it to be very enjoyable too. To get an easy time with your router, here are some things that you can do.
Stabilize the Board
First, you will have to place the wooden board onto the workbench. Make sure that the board is nicely placed. You should also ensure that it is very stable.
To ensure that your board is stable, you should clamp the wooden board down on to the benchtop table. You can also use a rubber pad beneath the wooden board to prevent it from sliding at all or even slipping.
Choose the Router Bit
Next, keep in mind the router bit that you need. The router bit that you should work with must be the V groove, round nose, or the square end router bit.
However, your choice of the bit will depend on the type of finishing that you want to go down with. Just remember that the V groove bit and the rounded bit are very easy to control when you plunge them into the wood.
Cutting the Wood
Once you have set up, it’s time to curve the wood. It is important to come out with the best results. To get these results, remember to never dive deeper, instead limit your depth to 1/4 inches or even 3/8 inches.
TIP: If you go beyond the depth that I have mentioned here, you will have a very hard time grinding. You could also have a few problems with the burn marks.
Step VI: Finish Your Wooden Sign
Once you are done with routing, it will be time to give your wooden sign the desired finish. Under this step, you have unlimited ideas that you can go with. Personally, I love to paint or apply varnish.
If you are going with the painting, you can always choose a stylish painting of a sloppy touch and still end up with the best results.
If you choose to go with the sloppy painting touch, you will have to later on the sand of the parts that you do not need.
Nonetheless, you can also do a detailed painting of everything that you need. The same applies to varnish.
When it comes to applying the finishing paint on a routed signboard, the toughest part is to get the background right since there are images that you want to stand out.
You will have to be patient and work around them. However, this will take so much time. That’s why applying a clear finish such as varnish on the wood will be the best as it will leave you with the retro touch.
NOTE: There are countless designs that you can go for when it comes to applying a finishing touch in the wood. Before you choose any of them, make sure that you round up a few and then sample the best designs.
Tips for Working with the Router
When working with a router, there are tips that should help you with the best models. I have sampled some of these tips so that you can get the top results and efficiency.
- Understand the types of router bits that are available. We have the V groove, round nose, or the square route bits.
- Know that the bigger routers will get the job done faster than the smaller router models.
- Remember to always use both your hands when routing.
- Also, hold the routing machine down and always keep your forearms on top of the table while looking for extra control.
How to Use the Router
When cutting into wood using the router, you should hold the table for more control. Nonetheless, once you plunge in the router, wiggle your wrists to move the router through the wooden board easily.
Remember, it is not advisable to plunge the router in without first securing your forearms on to the table since this can easily destroy the wooden piece. You can also hurt yourself. So, always keep safety first.
When working on your wooden sign with a router, these tips will also come in handy. Keep them in mind.
- Avoid images with complicated patterns or high-end details.
- Ensure that you leave enough spacing around the edges for borderlines.
- Test the router’s bit on some wooden scrap before you use it for the routing of the sign.
- Use polyurethane/varnish once in a while to keep your wooden board looking brand new.
- Always sample up to your ideas before you can choose the best option to go with.
In addition to what we have seen, here are some additional frequently asked questions that you should keep in mind. They are best when routing and will help you to get the best results any day.
Q1. Where Can I Get Wooden Sign Ideas?
Today, many people will turn onto the internet for countless wooden sign ideas when looking for how to make wooden signs with a router. Even so, it doesn’t have to be this way. A little creativity will go a long way.
You can opt to visit the local craft shows, woodworkers, and other modern home décor exhibitions to sample up some of the best ideas. You never know, a little dedication might end up going a long way too.
Q2. What Will You Use a Pencil For?
The pencil is used to draw the sign on the wooden board by hand. They are very handy, easy to use, and will leave you with the best designs easily. More importantly, pencil drawings are easy to correct, and you will have an easy time getting the best results.
Q3. How Do I Make a Rugged Board Better?
Before you work on your rugged board, you can make it better and easy to use by trimming and sanding. Trimming will eliminate the unwanted parts while sanding will leave you with a smooth and easy to work on the surface.
How to Make Wooden Signs with A Router – Details with video
Frequently Asked Questions
You can create different types of signs, including letters, numbers, or symbols, using various handheld routers, such as a plunge router or a combo set of routing tools. Therefore, you will need a smooth piece of wood & a whole idea of what sentence or symbols you want there.
First of all, you should know that you have two methods of routing wooden signs; the first is to draw the letters freehand, & the other is to measure in every step.
Let’s see a brief discussion over the steps to make wooden signs with a router:
●First of all, you must clean the wooden surface & make it plain or ready for routing the signs. Please remember that your symbols won’t be perfect if your area is not smooth enough.
●Next, you must draw a layout of the total sign you want before setting up the router because it would be easier to follow the marks freehand.
●Lastly, you have to set the parts of your router one by one & check if the machine works well or not. However, you must set a definite depth & take enough time to mount all the signs you want on the wood.
You can have different signs mounted on wood with a router’s help, but it is necessary to know the primitive ones to check how the thing started. Moreover, you will also find out the easiest things to design on woods for beginners if you check the primitive wooden signs.
First of all, you can include easy designs like straight lines, zigzag, star, heart shape, or something like that. You can include the tree or bird-like shape in the primitive signs; next, you must include the different alphabets in the list.
English & Greek alphabets are easier to route on wood than other language alphabets; therefore, you can include them as the primitive ones, but the stylish font designs aren’t the initial ones.
You will need some specific & specialized tools to make wooden signs because everything can’t perform well, especially when you want a professional layout. You must choose the router type & bits properly to combine to provide you a significant wooden sign.
You will get a router with moderate speed and advanced features; moreover, the toolset should come with a perfect grip & handle. Next, you will focus on the clamping system because before starting your work, you must secure your workpiece firmly.
Another more important item & the vital part of making wooden signs is the bits as to how deep the carving would be, depends on the bits. Moreover, finishing each letter or symbol will also depend on the cutting or carving bits; it would be better if the blades & bits are of strong metals.
Some routers come with a professional tool kit for engraving signs; they especially consist of alphabet templates; thus, you won’t have to use a pencil to draw guiding marks on the wood. Which toolset you will choose eventually depends on your usage purpose.
You will find different types of bits to carve various shapes on wood; one of them is CNC, or you can say Computerized Numerical Control. The name indicates that the bits can’t be manually controlled; besides it’s connected to the automation system.
However, if anyone asks you if you can use the CNC bits in a router or not, the answer will be yes; you can use the CNC bits in some of the wood routers. Please remember that the CNC bits are not for personal uses; they are for heavy-duty, industrial purposes.
Moreover, all CNC bits are not compatible with all types of routers; for instance, most users choose Bosch routers or Dewalt. Both routers can be attached to CNC bits regularly, but you can also try other routers for the bits.
The woodworking sector is pretty vast; we don’t find variety only in routers or tools but also in types of wood. We all know that the hardwoods that have fewer pores & can handle the pressure of carving are appropriate for running routers.
Now the query is if you can use routers on plywood like others or not, the answer is yes; you are allowed to use a router on plywood, but the performance won’t be up to your expectations. The router doesn’t go smoothly like any other hardwood, but if you want to carve or shape the corner edges, you’re good to go.
If you want to work in the plywood’s center, you may have to deem the pressure & speed, or it’s better not to use routers for the plywood middle portion.
If you want to understand how to make wooden signs with a router, there are a few things that you have to know. However, the most important one is this, before you make your wooden sign, you must determine what the wooden sign is going to say.
You must also determine the exact position of the letters and words. Keep in mind the images too if there will be any. All these should come in before you begin any cutting. If you do it right, it will reduce wastage of time and wood and give you the top result.