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How to Carve a Wooden Sign using a Router

How to Carve Your Own Wooden Sign with a Router - theprojectlady.comHey there!  This post goes right along with my previous post where I showed how to make a router base with handles.  I made that base so I could carve myself a wooden sign for my Etsy shop!  That seems to be how projects work – you have to make one thing (or buy it) to make something else.

How to Carve Your Own Wooden Sign with a Router - theprojectlady.com

You don’t need much for this project and it’s really quite fun (this was my first time)!

What I used:

Rigid Trim Router + clear base with handles

Sign Carving Bit Set

Wood for Sign

Image/Text ( laser-ink printed at the scale you want + mirrored)

Xylene + Blender Marker

Painters Tape

Paint for Coloring Carved Details

Sander + Various Grit Paper

 

Your first order of business is to prepare your wood for carving.  You’ll want it completely flat and as smooth as you can get it.  Note: any bump or rough spot could cause your router base to catch while you’re carving.

Once you know the shape and size of your wood you can create your image/text to fit.  I use Adobe Illustrator for these sorts of things – I can re-size my objects easily and save the image across several sheets of paper for printing.  Remember to mirror your image and print using a laser printer (I haven’t tested with inkjet ink so I can’t say that it would work).

Cut out and tape your pieces together if that’s relevant for what you’re doing.

How to Carve Your Own Wooden Sign with a Router - theprojectlady.com

Tape your page(s) over your wood so the ink side is facing down – make sure your pages are as flat and tight against wood as possible.  Use your blender marker to dip into Xylene and “draw” over where the ink is, pressing it against the wood as you go.  Work in small sections and use a credit card or similar hard object you can scrap over the ink to help transfer to wood.  TIP: you don’t need much Xylene – just enough to soak through and wet the ink on the other side.. if you have too much your ink will bleed wherever the Xylene takes it.

 

How to Carve Your Own Wooden Sign with a Router - theprojectlady.com

This is what mine looked like after transferring.  The ink was dark enough for me to see where to carve although the edges weren’t very crisp – it worked for me!

NOTE: At this point next time I’m going to rub the surface down with Paste Wax for two reasons: so my router base will glide over the wood easier but more importantly because the spray paint bled into the wood in a later step and I’m hoping the wax will act as a barrier.

How to Carve Your Own Wooden Sign with a Router - theprojectlady.com

I got ahead of myself and carved the whole sign without taking pictures!  It was too exciting!

I used the 90-degree ‘V-groove’ bit for carving “Handcrafted”.  I liked this bit because I carved each letter in one pass.

For “Journey” I used the ‘Profile Carver’ bit to get the flat bottom – these letters took a lot longer and were harder to get to look nice.

How to Carve Your Own Wooden Sign with a Router - theprojectlady.com

I mentioned briefly above how my spray paint blend into the wood from around the edges of the letters and that I would use wax on the surface BEFORE cutting to try and avoid that.  You could also spray the sign with a sanding sealer or clear coat BEFORE you put down any color.  You can use any color of paint obviously and you can choose to use spray paint, acrylics and apply by hand, etc.   Let dry.

How to Carve Your Own Wooden Sign with a Router - theprojectlady.com

I used a belt sander to get most of the paint off and used an orbital to follow up with 150, 180 and 220 grit paper.

How to Carve Your Own Wooden Sign with a Router - theprojectlady.com

I rubbed the wood and letters down with Paste Wax (the wood was still a bit ‘green’ so I didn’t want to seal it with a clear coat).  I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!  I love how you can see the chainsaw marks on the sides because it reminds me of my husband.

How to Carve Your Own Wooden Sign with a Router - theprojectlady.com

How to Carve Your Own Wooden Sign with a Router - theprojectlady.com

I love how it turned out.

My big inspiration for this was seeing YouTube videos by Dave Rhoten where he teaches sign carving.  I love how we all help each other.

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