Fancy Wooden Letters

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Project by Kevbo posted 03-17-2013 02:34 AM 2114 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

1. Drawn with pencil – you have to consider if they will stand on their own, and if any part of the letters will be too narrow and might split/break.

2. I’m cutting out the holes in the “G” first while the board is still whole.

3. I should have put another board under it and clamped them together; I had some pretty bad chip-out on the bottom-side that could have been prevented by backing it up with another piece of wood. I sanded all the chip-out so at least they were smooth and would accept the finish well, but it would have saved me a lot of time and looked nicer if I had backed it up.

4. Drilling a starter hole in the “R” – has to be at least 1/4” for my jig saw blade to fit. No need to back this up because I’m cutting it out anyway.

5. Me with my favorite tool, my bosh jig saw. A professional carpenter once told me “With a jig saw and a belt sander you can build anything.” I reach for this tool for a lot of things.

6. Here the “R” is partially cut out. Notice the non-marring boot on the face plate – sweeeeet.

7. Look how my blade bent while cutting the outside curve of the “G.” I wasn’t careful to watch out for blade flex. You can sort of angle the blade in while you move around the curve to prevent this.

8. Cutting the inside of the “G” first – you have to plan carefully the order of your cuts, so you don’t find yourself cutting a piece of wood too small to clamp, or supported by too narrow of a piece – it will bounce with the saw blade. I don’t get any chip out with the jig saw because I run the saw on full blast while cutting, use a fine tooth blade, and it’s a great tool, but if you are getting chip out, you could back this up with some cheap 1/4” or some scrap to prevent that too – that would take a lot of clamping though.

9. Progress – I’m wearing my safety gear, but I hate these glasses – my much cooler “50’s shop teacher” glasses were upstairs.

10. Lookin’ pretty good. Cutting the gentle curves on the G was really a nuisance and very unforgiving.

11. The belt sander is key for quickly sanding the edges and keeping them square. This makes quick work of squaring up the cut on the “G” where the blade bent.

12. A random orbital palm sander quickly cleans up the face and the back, and preps the surface for finish.

13. Where the belt sander and Random Orbit Sander won’t reach you have to get creative. Here I have attached a drum sanding bit to my sweet Hitachi 12V Li-Ion cordless drill. Remember all surfaces should be sanded with similar grits – this ensures the finish will be consistent. (Notice the produce price tags stuck to my shirt. Natty likes to stick these to me at the grocery store.)

14. I wrapped some sand paper around a square dowel to sand down and straighten up the inside flat surfaces on the “R” as well as inside the cog-like details.

15. My tiny little dremel router, pretty worthless for most things, really shines in this application. It’s tiny 1/8” shank bits can get into all the small details. It also makes a good trim router for applying laminate.

16. The sharp edges of the “R” before routing.

17. I think the chamfered edges really add something – this part of the project is really easy and fun, and has immediately satisfying results.

18. Finished but un-finsihed. (I don’t pun often, but when I do it’s usually accidental and always bad.)

19. Finished! No stain and a single coat of “Danish Oil” with a foam brush makes these letters look really rich and warm. The oil really seems to harden the soft pine and protects them. It is easy to apply the Danish Oil as it seems to absorb into the wood instead of pooling, so all I have to watch out for are bubbles. More coats might be prudent but so far the letters I have made are doing well with just the 1. Granted the oldest letters I have are only about 4 months old… Danish oil claims to be safe for children’s toys, and my research tells me that most finishes are safe as long as they are fully cured. I timed myself and the total labor on these puppies was around 2:20.

-- Makin' the most of the tools I have...

4 comments so far

View Jeffery Mullen's profile

Jeffery Mullen

355 posts in 3020 days

#1 posted 03-17-2013 04:01 AM

Quite a project you did. I use my band saw and scroll saw for projects like what you do as It is less challenging to do I guess. but I enjoyed your pictures and story that went along with your project. Good job I must say.

-- Jeffery Mullen

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4302 days

#2 posted 03-17-2013 04:31 AM

Funky cool fonts – I love it!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Kevbo's profile


13 posts in 2100 days

#3 posted 03-17-2013 04:35 AM

The first letters I made fit together like a jig saw puzzle, so it didn’t seem right to use any other tool! I have a Ryobi band saw but I have a lot of trouble with it (maybe I’ll find some help with it here), and there’s something easier and more satisfying for me in using my jig saw. I’m hoping to get a spindle sander soon which should really make these types of letters much easier. I hope to post the jig saw letters soon because I think they are really cool, and they are teaching my daughter to spell her name! Thanks for the comments guys!

-- Makin' the most of the tools I have...

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2378 days

#4 posted 03-20-2013 02:35 PM

Cool and unique letters! Great little projects with many possibilities. Well done and great photos.

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