Routing large letters for a sign

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Forum topic by CovenantCreations posted 10-22-2010 06:20 AM 7984 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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127 posts in 2925 days

10-22-2010 06:20 AM

Have a customer that wants me to build a large sign approximately 7’ long and 1.5’ high. I want to have the words engraved largely. Don’t have a CNC, and dont want to use cheap plastic templates. What are my options? Free hand?

4 replies so far

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10519 posts in 3450 days

#1 posted 10-22-2010 12:48 PM

A friend built a complete upper and lower case set of templates for use with a router inlay kit.
He started with a Sears pantograph paper letter set and used a scroll saw to make the letters templates from 1/2” (IIRC) MDF. Of course, he allowed for the rub collar diameter.
His were for inlays, but the same principal could be used for direct routing.
A lot of work, but then he does a lot of big signs.
The nice thing about the pantograph paper patterns is that they have indicator marks for letter spacings.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View fredf's profile


495 posts in 3732 days

#2 posted 10-24-2010 07:36 AM

some folks print out in a large font on their computers, glue to the wood and route freehand through the printouts. not sure my hand would be steady enough but may try one of these days. plane or sand the paper off. if the letters are going to be painted, paint first before stripping the printouts.

-- Fred, Springfield, Ma

View CovenantCreations's profile


127 posts in 2925 days

#3 posted 10-25-2010 03:12 PM

I think I am going to give the free handing a try, make a few practice runs on scrap wood first.

View RalphBarker's profile


80 posts in 2791 days

#4 posted 10-26-2010 05:13 PM

Years ago, I made a name plate for my parents to hang over their cabin door – 2×12 redwood, about 4 feet long, with large eye screws in the top edge for hanging. I laid out the lettering by hand in a classic-looking Roman sort of font, inside a “frame” type of edge about 1.5” wide along the edges of the plank. I started the “frame” with a 60° “V” bit in the router, using an edge guide to follow the edges of the board. Then, I roughed in the letters, staying about a half inch away from the lettering. After the rough-in, I “snuck up” on the edges of the letters. Once the letters were close to “finished”, I cleared the background field with a flat-bottomed bit, working in small steps. An auxiliary base may be helpful for large areas of background. A little finish work with gouges was needed to clean up the edges of the lettering.

Using a template would have been much less nerve-wracking, but this was a one-of sort of thing, so I didn’t go to that trouble.

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