Sign Makeing:

Hello Group:
I am interested in the art of sign making and was wondering if anyone here has used the templates and jigs that are available for routers? Particularly the ease , and accuracy of use and which makes are recommended.
Best of the New Year
Sal
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sal wrote:
> Hello Group: > > I am interested in the art of sign making and was wondering if anyone here > has used the templates and jigs that are available for > routers? Particularly the ease , and accuracy of use and which makes are > recommended.
Take a look at a CNC controlled New Hermes.
Lew
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What's this talk of templates, jigs and CNC machines? That's not art.
Get a copy of one of Norm's recent (year or so) "field trips" where he visited the old guy who made the sign for his shop. Fixed based router, lettering bit, 60 watt light bulb, and tinfoil. That's it.

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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.net wrote:
| What's this talk of templates, jigs and CNC machines? That's not | art.
Only insofar as communication is an art - and if the objection is to the application of technology to further that art, then it's probably worth pointing out that fingerpainting is probably overrated.
Photos of the making of a (double-sided) sign using a CNC router are at the link below...
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/PT_Sign.html
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EZletter CNC Auto Notcher EZletter CNC Auto Notcher is especially used for channel letter notching. Input the design or letter in DXF into the machine, CNC Auto Nothcher will fully automate notching accurately.     EZletter CNC Auto Notcher include computer controlled system, transporting system, coil flatten system, notching system, stippling system and cutter. To complete the whole channel making process, we also provide the EZletter Auto Flanger, EZletter Pneumatic Brake Bender, EZletter Rounder and EZletter Rounder Bender corporately. Characteristic: 1: Flexible to notch any letter height and any design on a standard .DXF file 2: Auto notch in different degrees according to the design. (Patent technology) 3: Cut the letter to the size of your break automatically leaving no waste; 4: Stipple the location and direction of bend; 5: Can identify inside and outside of the figure; 6: Total job length, or single letter length can be calculated for a job estimating. 7: Can enter multiple break-points at your convenience for large letters 8: Can change the position and direction of the fibulae at your convenience; 9: Whole job can be processed at one time, or one letter processed multiple times.
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Sal,
I couldn't tell you how well a "jig" for signmaking works- but I would note that any given jig you make or buy will require a seperate font for each style. Fonts cost a lot of money- as do CNC sign makers that will route out the signs themselves.
What I do, and you can do just as easily, is type out what I want the sign to say on the computer, select the font I want to use, then print out the image(s) (it often takes more than one sheet of paper).
Once you've got your paper sign printed out and taped together, you can lay it over your wood. Tape it down to the wood on one side so it doesn't slide around on you. Then use a regular sheet of carbon transfer paper to trace the letters onto the wood. (Just keep moving it around to get all the letters transfered.)
Then you route out the sign freehand. The beauty of this is that you don't need to spend any money, you have almost infinite font choices, and you can choose raised *or* recessed lettering, depending on your preference.
It might sound like a lot of work, but it really isn't- I can route out a sign that is pretty complex (think calligraphy or gothic lettering) in an hour or so, and they always have more visual impact than something like those oak plaques with a surname routed into a board with a cove bit that you see more often than not.
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snipped-for-privacy@NOSPAMcharter.net says...

That is pretty much the exact method Norm used on his sign-making episode. How easy was it to pick up the skill before you could get good results? The prospect of producing a good result in two dimensions with freehand routing seems daunting.
I don't have a proper sign-making bit for my router, so I haven't tried to make a sign yet. But I do have it on my to-do list.
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On Mon, 1 Jan 2007 20:13:40 -0500, Mark Blum

I got nice results the first (and every) time- it's just a matter of care and patience. I kind of rough it in first, and then make small finishing cuts to work down to the lines I've got drawn on. The only places where it becomes a little more difficult are when you are using raised letters that are fairly thin, where it becomes very easy to blow half the letter off because there is so little wood there, and when you need to have sharp interior corners. All of the signs I've done have been in redwood for the weather resistance, so I've found that a sharp, thin chisel and a utility knife generally will do a decent job of cleaning up inside corners. Smaller bits will give you better control, and limit the clean-up work to a bare minimum. If you're impatient (and that's a bad thing, at least with this project) you *could* use a larger bit for the initial roughing in, and a smaller one for the detail work, but it doesn't save you that much time, and can cause some ugly divots if you don't get the bits set to exactly the same height.
It's also nice, but not absolutely necessary, to have a D-handle base on the router- there's a little more control there, as well as a little less arm fatigue.
When you're starting, test the wood a little by routing a circle in a dead area that is to be routed away, and make several passes around that circle to remove a little material each time. That will give you an idea of the best direction to cut, as well as how far you can push it when it comes to making thin, small letters before the router will blow the material right off the sign. As far as recessed letters go, there shouldn't be much of an issue at all- the material around the letters should be more than robust enough to keep from tearing out.
In case you haven't considered it, raised letters will require a border around the outside of the sign, to give the router something to ride on so it stays level. I figure that in as part of the design, but the lip can always be routed away once the rest is complete, or sacrifical blocks can be set around the outside of the sign if you don't want a border.

I'm not sure exactly what a proper sign-making bit for a router is, but I use a 1/4" double fluted bit. With a bit that small, I've found it's fine to plunge it in as far as 3/8" and route the whole thing in one shot. Different materials will have different requirements, of course.
As far as I'm concerned, I've found no reason to use any other bit for the task, though I could see using a core-box bit for recessed lettering- still not my cup of tea, but thousands of routed signs hanging on peoples' houses are a good indicator that plenty of people like that look just fine.
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Prometheus wrote:

Cedar is more common in most places, cheaper too. It holds up quite well but isn't as purdy. A moot point if you are painting. It is also quite soft so it's easy to chisel. The density can vary between boards if you are stack gluing so testing is a good thing to do. I'm in the biz so we usually sandblast but have made masonite templates for "freehand" accuracy.
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On Tue, 02 Jan 2007 14:44:54 -0800, Fletis Humplebacker

You are 100% right- but the reason I use redwood is because don't make many signs (maybe 5 or 6 in the last year) and I salvaged a pretty good amount of it that had been used for facia board and was headed for the dumpster on a job a while back. Makes nice looking signs, especially with the slight discoloration here and there from where the paint failed. Somebody was thinking of me when they nailed it on, too- there are two trim nail holes every 4 feet or so, and that's the extent of the damage to the wood.
It'll be a sad day when the last of it is gone... the stuff is far too expensive in my area to purchase any more new.
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Thanks for the detailed reply.

When I speak of a router bit for making signs, I am speaking of a steep- angle V-groove bit such as this one:
http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?familyid676
I don't know if you use a V-groove bit or not, as you don't say in your description. But I don't really like the effect from a straight bit or a core box bit.
The method shown by the sign-maker on Norm's sign episode uses a pointed bit and doesn't really plunge the bit into the work, but eases it in at an angle to provide a graduated groove at the points of the letters. I'm not sure if that is the method you use, but getting that graduated groove correct and a steady line and arc to the letters freehand seems like it would take a very steady hand and a good bit of practice.
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On Tue, 2 Jan 2007 21:15:16 -0500, Mark Blum

Nope- never even occured to me that there might be such a thing, truth be told. But it seems like it might be good for some jobs, and particularly nice for what you're describing below. Probably still not for me, with the style of work I do- but something to keep an eye out for the next time I'm browsing the router bit section anyhow.

Well, I couldn't say what a correct graduated groove even looks like, so I'll skip that. Basically, I just use a 1/4" chisel to define the corner, and a utility knife to carefully pare it away (mainly because the blade is thin, and will fit into acute corners better than the chisel). If I were making a living at it, there are probably many easier ways to do it- but it works for me, and it's not as tough as it may sound if you've done any other chisel work, like excavating mortises or inlay cavities. Deeper backgrounds are tougher, but have a more dramatic shadow line, so it sort of covers up any small nicks you might put in while doing the hand work.
As noted in a previous post, it's not really that hard to follow the lines, provided you sneak up on them a little at a time, and don't just go for broke in one pass. It's possible you're underestimating yourself when it comes to doing it- the best advice is to give it a try on some scrap, and if it doesn't work out, you'll have learned something about what you need to do differently. You may be surprised at how easy it actually is.
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