Hand Routered Wood Signs

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Project by woodworkerforchrist posted 07-05-2018 11:43 AM 1551 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hey yall! So I have mostly been doing scrollsawing for all my woodworking years but I recently found a new love. Carving signs by hand with the router. I know this can be done with a cnc or laser or even with a router with weird attachments but that is not needed. This is free hand with a small palm router and it is easy and a blast! Each sign is custom and people love them. I started watching Eric Rhotens(super guy) videos on Dave’s Signs on YouTube and his website learning for free from him. Dave, Eric, and Vicki are awesome people. They also have carving supplies(bits, baseplates, lettering, etc) for sale. In just 2 months I have already made over 50 signs just in my free time which is limited lol. Check them out! I started with my old 20 year old router I never really used and since bought a small palm router and attached base with handles and it works amazingly well. It’s amazing what you can do with it. Any words, artwork etc can be carved. And scrollsaw patterns work great for sign carving too! Just a narrow profile bit, 90 V groove. 60 V groove, and 45 chamber is all you need. You trace letters and artwork, do the carving, spray black primer or marsh ink, sand off, and finish. They turn out great! Wonderful gifts and I am selling them for $50 or more. It’s about $2-5 dollars in materials per sign and takes less than an hour for each one start to finish. I use cedar and select pine for most signs. I know this isnt a new thing but this system of carving works great and I am really liking it and just wanted to share. I am still an amateur and learning, but really enjoying being a sign carver:)

-- Marty from MinneSNOWta

8 comments so far

View torus's profile


544 posts in 1625 days

#1 posted 07-05-2018 01:59 PM

Great work!
I need to fix my home sign soon. The “bronze” numbers from BORG started shading (again!) its “bronze”. ))
I want carve them in place instead of buying next set.

What router are you using?

-- "It's getting better..." - put this on my RIP stone!

View GR8HUNTER's profile


8874 posts in 1925 days

#2 posted 07-05-2018 02:10 PM

some beautiful signs there Marty … GREAT JOB :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View woodworkerforchrist's profile


168 posts in 3070 days

#3 posted 07-05-2018 02:32 PM

I bought the Ridgid at Home Depot for $100. Great little router and has life time warrantee on parts. Works great for most everything. I have an older Craftsman I use for doing edging. It’s nice to have 2 or 3 routers so you dont need to change the bits as often. My next one will be the Dewalt 611.

-- Marty from MinneSNOWta

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1512 posts in 2846 days

#4 posted 07-05-2018 03:57 PM

Great work. I wish I had the dexterity to do freehand, but I don’t.
Same with my handwriting, just not legible.

I’ll take a look at those videos, and see if I can learn.

Thanks for sharing. And again impressive work.

-- Jeff NJ

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2994 posts in 1375 days

#5 posted 07-05-2018 10:09 PM

nicely done, Marty !!
I started doing the same as you back in the early ‘70s.
eventually progressed to a 2500 square foot shop with six employees !!!
so be careful of just how involved you want your “hobby” to be !!
keep up the good work

the only suggestion I would make is this:
if you are making signs for outside use, which most will be, you really need
to use a clear finish that will hold up to the elements with UV protection.
that Minwax spray stuff will ruin your reputation fairly quickly. Repeat customers
will be your best advertisement.




-- I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things. --

View oldnovice's profile


7739 posts in 4580 days

#6 posted 07-05-2018 11:14 PM

Nice work, freehand is not my forte!
But you are becoming a master!

-- "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley

View woodworkerforchrist's profile


168 posts in 3070 days

#7 posted 07-06-2018 02:08 AM

Thanks ya’ll! Yea I use spray Crystal Clear or Helmsman Spar for most indoor signs. But for outdoor signs after 2 coats of spray I also “brush on” 1 coat of Helmsman. I really like the thick shiny look it gives. I may do that with all my signs indoor and outdoor. I hear it holds up well in harsh weather.

-- Marty from MinneSNOWta

View ralbuck's profile


6763 posts in 3479 days

#8 posted 07-06-2018 02:30 AM

I like “hand made”not computer signs very much Good Work.

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

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