Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs…

How many times during the day do we rely on signs? Street signs. Store signs. Directional signs. And, is there anything more welcome than a sign pointing to the restroom when nature is calling.

Like it or not, signs are a big part of our lives. From the mundane to the fancy, the help keep us on track… even at home.

“Everyone has a street sign in front of their place,” said Tim Walter of Eagle America. “As a woodworker, you can help make something basic such as that a whole lot more interesting for your home – or for a gift recipient…” From the basic block letter sign carved into some pressure treated southern yellow pine to something fancier in a weather resistant board like teak, putting your home numbers into wood will help bring a little extra life to the front of your house and even serve as something that helps your home stand out when someone is looking for your address.

If you are only thinking about house numbers outside, you aren’t exploring all of the possibilities. “Of course, kids love personalized signs for their rooms. Think also about people who may be wine collectors, photographers, gardeners, cooks or others who would be surprised to get a sign helping them celebrate their hobby. I also hear that woodworkers sometimes enjoy signs that identify where their shops are…”

When it comes to methods for sign making, you have some choices. “If you are a power tool kinda person, you might want to take a look at the Milescraft Signmaking kit. It comes with everything you need to make beautifully lettered or numbered signs with perfect spacing. Simply rout the pattern and bingo, you are there.”

If you want a little more free form approach, you can change the router bits to give a different look , or you can pick up a copy of the book Making Wood Signs or the DVD Freehand Routed Wood Signs Made Simple to really help your imagination get running. “Vee cutting plunge bits make sharply relieved bottoms in the numbers and letters, while undercutting bits allow you to recess under the face of the characters, making them appear to be floating over the background.”

Another great way to make a sign would be to stack laminate two contrasting boards. “Say you were to cut the numbers from a lighter board with a scroll saw, then glue it to a darker board underneath… You’d have the depth and contrast that would make your sign draw a lot of attention.”

For those who are more hand tool oriented, there is the Flexcut line of carving tools. “When you are looking to carve the numbers and letters on your signs, knives, mallet tools and palm tools can help turn your design into reality.”

A sign featuring just numbers or letters could look kind of blah without something else to catch your eye. Tim told me about a number of corner rounding templates which can help you enliven a rectangular or square signs. “For ellipses or circles, we offer a our Curv Pro Circle and Oval cutting system, which easily allows you to cut those smooth curves accurately.” Designs carved into the face – whether modern and interpretive or classic – can drastically change the overall appearance of the sign.

Of course, sign edges need special treatment, and there is no limit to the options you can make with a single bit or with combination of others. Flutes, coves, beads, chamfers…. they can be combined in nearly limitless ways to personalize your creation.

And, when you proudly display your creation – or the recipient sees it for the first time – it will be easy to identify just how unique and meaningful it will be.

3 thoughts on “Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs…”

  1. Great article, Tom. I am planning on making a sign for my workshop someday. Although, I should probably get the workshop built first. 🙂

  2. Thanks for mentioning our kits Tom!
    I hope its not inappropriate to mention our Pantograph as a halfway point between the ‘power tool kinda person’ and those who ‘want a little more free form approach.’ Just click on one of the Eagle America links on this page and do a keyword search for Pantograph for more information.

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