Routing a Sign #1: Setting up the design

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Blog entry by ~Julie~ posted 09-25-2012 03:07 PM 2166 reads 4 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Routing a Sign series Part 2: Routing the Horizontal and Vertical Parts »

I make a lot of hand painted signs, but now and then I do a routed sign. They take much longer to complete, but they are just as creative and fun.

Someone who saw me at a craft show contacted me to make her a routed sign, so I photographed the process.

The finished sign looks like this:

Now I’ll explain how the process goes

Valerie wanted a basic sign to hang outside that was 18” long. I chose cedar because of it’s ability to last outdoors and I cut a piece of 1” thick cedar from a deck board. I left it a few inches longer than the finished sign would be to allow me to have extra room for routing (you’ll see this later)

I chose to use a basic, straight font without serifs. This font is Calibri and I blew up the size on my computer so that the letters would fit on the 18” board and then printed it out on my printer.

I taped the paper together, taped it onto the board and put carbon paper under the letters:

Then I traced the outline of the letters with a pencil and the carbon paper transfers that onto the wood quite clearly:

Here are all the letters finished and ready for routing:

For routing, the board has to remain solidly in place otherwise the torque of the router can move the wood. Often I clamp down the wood to a worktable but usually the clamps are in the way of the router and have to be moved. This time I screwed a scrap piece of wood to the bottom of the sign. The screws are in the waste area at each end of the sign (remember I left it long for this reason) and the sign will be trimmed after the routing is finished, removing the screw holes.

After turning the side right side up, I put it on my husband’s work table which has an opening that can be adjusted by turning the knobs on the front. (Please don’t look too closely at the table, it’s not pretty, but it serves a purpose) The table closes in on the scrap wood I put on the back and this way the sign is firmly on the table without any clamps in the way.

Now we are ready to route out the letters, so tomorrow I will post on setting up the router and starting the routing. Please see Part 2 for that information.

-- ~Julie~

3 comments so far

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3649 days

#1 posted 09-26-2012 02:17 AM

Good start Julie, I always wondered how routed signs were done…
I’m looking forward to part two!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View justoneofme's profile


652 posts in 2627 days

#2 posted 09-26-2012 03:44 PM

Hi Julie: Your workbench looks like mine … well used!! Looking forward to learning the skill it takes to router signs within your next blog.

-- Elaine in Duncan

View hjt's profile


900 posts in 3285 days

#3 posted 09-28-2012 01:38 AM

Too late, Julie…I looked at the table and was horrified!!! I have the same type of table (minus the paint stains) and find it to be very useful.

Very clever idea of using the computer to get the letters and then the carbon to trace them. But then again, I find much of what you do to be clever.

Now on to part 2.

-- Harold

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