Circular lettering jig design - Router Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-09-2019, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Default Circular lettering jig design

Haven't made this, but for those making hand cut circular signs, I think it would be nice to have a rotating jig to rotate the sign blank so the letter you're cutting is always in a vertical orientation to the user. See the drawing below.

Start with a base of 3/4 BB ply. As large a square about 3 inches larger than the largest size sigh you intend to make. Cut another piece into a circle3 inches smaller than the base. This leaves a bit of room for mounting supports for the router to ride on. Add a clamp to hold the workpiece and circular part in place. The circular table should ride flat on the base so when you clamp it, it doesn't tilt the table and workpiece.

You'll have to either let this jig hang over the end of your workbench or add some feet to make space for the clamp.

Rotate the table so the space for each letter is top, center. The letter will automatically be perpendicular to the center of the workpiece, which is the whole point of this jig.

For upright letters on the bottom half, use the bottom opening.

Clamp the rotating table before cutting letters.

Drill a hole or two into the top of square base and the underside of the cirular piece. Here's a rough drawing.

A refinement would be to make the H shaped support able to be set for different rotating table and workpiece height. Make the horizontal supports from 3/4 up ro 1.5 inches thick hardwood. You could cut the horizontal bar's width into strips of masonite so you can stack them to match the needed height. I would cut the masonite strips, stack all of them in place, put the H on top, then drill all pieces at one time. You need to cut enough for both top and bottom of the jig for equal height stacks. Place a threaded insert in the bottom horizontal pieces and coutersink the very top hole in the H shaped pieces so you can use a flathead bolt in the countersink to hold the stack tight, but not interfere with the router base.

@Outof the woodwork. This will compliment your band saw. This will be easiest to make on a band saw. You can use a word processor to form the circular letters, then flip and transfer to the workpiece. (I think it's called word art, but I use an old version of Word and it's a bit limited on fonts.
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Last edited by DesertRatTom; 11-09-2019 at 01:20 PM.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-09-2019, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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@OutoftheWoodwork This was designed with hand cut signs in mind.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-11-2019, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
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@OutoftheWoodwork

I redid this with a bit more image information and clearer instructions in a pdf. You can download it from dropbox.

Since I can't find any way to get rid of the first picture, I've posted the updated one behttps://www.dropbox.com/s/uzac8jr6cmm5777/Router%20Circular%20lettering%20jig.pdf?dl=0low it. It is also on the pdf
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-12-2019, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
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@OutoftheWoodwork

I redid this with a bit more image information and clearer instructions in a pdf. You can download it from dropbox.

Since I can't find any way to get rid of the first picture, I've posted the updated one behttps://www.dropbox.com/s/uzac8jr6cmm5777/Router%20Circular%20lettering%20jig.pdf?dl=0low it. It is also on the pdf
A clever idea but it would need either indexing holes and a pin in order to space the letters evenly or the top plate would have to be Acrylic in order to see where the next letter goes.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-12-2019, 09:31 AM
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I’m confused by this, Tom. If the jig isn’t being used with a letter shape template, I don’t know why it is necessary. Once you have transfered circular text to a round blank, it is very easy to hand carve without the need of a jig. The blank can be rotated as needed if you want to be carve each letter with it vertical to your position, although sometimes I would carve with my view of the letter upside down. A large transparent base-plate gives you all the support needed, even if cutting text close to the edge. As I say, I’m confused. Am I missing something?
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-12-2019, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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@Gaffboat Oliver, The idea occurred to me after a conversation with Barb. Her process is to print lettering in reverse on a laser printer, then using a volatile oil, transfer it to wood. Then she hand cuts each letter. So the lettering is already on the circular workpiece. The point of my thinking is that it might give the user an easier to control way of making sure the letters were cut vertically to the center, all the way around. Each letter would be in the exact same vertical orientation.

It may, however, be a solution in search of a problem. I don't make signs, so this is how I would prefer to work if I did. I would always prefer having the letter outline in the same orientation all the way around.

The position is held with a simple clamp rather than a lock down star knob arrangement to avoid marring the sign's surface with the threaded end of the knob. And of course you could use a star knob in a threaded insert to lock down that outer rim. Someone suggested replacing the wood top with plastic so you could see the surrounding letters.

Center positioning pin. You'd most likely drill a center hole when cutting the circular piece on a band saw, or using a router circle cutting jig. That same hole would fit over the rotating bottom support piece. Using double stick tape to hold it in place, you would be able to clamp on the edge of the support disk instead of the workpiece.

Truth is I just think this way and I'm fond of jigs.

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Last edited by DesertRatTom; 11-12-2019 at 11:04 AM.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-12-2019, 04:33 PM
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A clever idea but it would need either indexing holes and a pin in order to space the letters evenly or the top plate would have to be Acrylic in order to see where the next letter goes.
That might cause problems too unless the pins are spaced for each specific letter. I learned a few years ago that the standard spacing is adjusted that way to make the text LOOK even, even though the spacing is not.

From Microsoft Office:
"Kerning refers to the way spacing between two specific characters is adjusted. The idea is to give a better looking result by reducing the spacing between characters that fit together nicely (such as "A" and "V") and increasing the spacing between characters that don't."

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-12-2019, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Charles, you are correct about kerning. I was in the news business and had to learn typography. The circle format accounts for kerning. And for that reason, transferring the reversed letters from, say, Microsoft Word or Publisher, onto the circular sign would take that into account. If you used an outline font, your hand cuts would require that you lock the workpiece support down at variable positions for each letter. Trying to recall what Barb uses to transfer the laser printer image to the sign. Some sort of mint oil. Maybe she'll pop up.

In the old hot type days, and even cold type for headlines, we had to count the size and spacing to make sure our headlines fit. I, f and t got half a count, most other letters got one, Caps got 1 1/2 Cap M and W got 2 and spaces got one. A 36 pt font, depending whether it's condensed, you could fit only a certain count per column, adding an extra for each column. The idea was to have headlines fil the full width of the column with not a lot of space left over. It was an art. I was news editor and placed the stories and wrote most headlines for the front 5 pages. An assistant did the inside sections. Kerning is changing the space between letters so they fit together in an attractive way. It affected readability. 72 pica per inch, we all had "pica poles" nearby.

Sorry, got carried away there.

I think most people are better at moving a router to the right and down for signs, and this would allow that on circular signs. Certainly not for everyone, but this jig would help a few of us do a better job on lettering and allow making something different.
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