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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-08-2016, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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How do you carve a straight line? All the signs recently has goaded me into attempting free hand routing. After about a week shop time and lots of man glitter I am frustrated. So I print large letters and use a 1/8" downcut, after "hogging out" the center I carefully try to shave. but there are still "scallops" I am using a Trend T4 running on its slowest speed I have rigged up a continual air bleed so I can see the lines. The dremel is my next foray. I am shopping for itsy bitsy bitses that and stewmac dremel base hoping it might improve my odds.
I am a confessed klutz hand eye coordination has always been difficult to achieve but I think I am missing something. BTW Precisionbits.com has nice prices on downcut 1/8" shank
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-08-2016, 06:36 PM
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[QUOTE=paduke;1286377]How do you carve a straight line? All the signs recently has goaded me into attempting free hand routing. After about a week shop time and lots of man glitter I am frustrated. So I print large letters and use a 1/8" downcut, after "hogging out" the center I carefully try to shave. but there are still "scallops" I am using a Trend T4 running on its slowest speed I have rigged up a continual air bleed so I can see the lines. The dremel is my next foray. I am shopping for itsy bitsy bitses that and stewmac dremel base hoping it might improve my odds.
I am a confessed klutz hand eye coordination has always been difficult to achieve but I think I am missing something. BTW Precisionbits.com has nice prices on downcut 1/8" shank.


Bill,
If making the signs that we see on the forum were easy, we could all make them. I'm pretty sure that those that have gotten the hang of it went through the same or similar learning curve that you are experiencing.

You can and should look forward to the day that you finally catch on and are happy enough with your work to show it off on the forum. Hang in there, learning is so much of the fun of woodworking. I for one will be watching for that special day.

Jerry
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-08-2016, 07:46 PM
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I don't know about others, but my lines aren't perfectly straight. If I go too slow, they show more of a wiggly edge.

I choose fonts that avoid a lot of straight lines. Sometimes you have to fix the mistakes by hand.

Only you know what it was supposed to look like!
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-08-2016, 08:33 PM
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Several questions come to mind, Bill. How large are the letters? What kind of wood are you carving? How deep are you trying to carve? Are you using a straight bit or a spiral bit?

Cutting out the inside of a letter and then sneaking up on the outline is a good approach but sometimes grain has a mind of its own. Have you watched any of the videos on makeawoodsign.com? Their YouTube channel, olddave100, has a ton of teaching videos.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-08-2016, 09:34 PM
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Hey, OLiver, thanks for that website. I now have another way to spend more time on my computer. LOL Like Paduke I've been curious about making signs but I have not made any attempt to do so yet because I didn't know where to start. I think I will soon thanks to that site.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-08-2016, 10:43 PM Thread Starter
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Ollie,

I have mostly used 1/8" spiral down cut I also tried using dremel with the OEM router base. I have been using scrap plywood and carving about 1/8 deep I use the router wrench for thickness gauge. I have been checking videos and did come across old dave. the archive is huge Its just gotta be more practice I guess.

Learning is an exciting adventure
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 04:28 AM
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Bill getting a line straight is really hard and I haven't mastered it yet. One thing important to remember is these signs are ""hand"" routed. We are not CNC machines. Something else, after you have completed a sign try holding your sign about 3 or 4 feet away and look at it. You will be surprised how good it looks. " It also helps if you can't see that well".

Try routing routing western cedar that you buy at Home Depot. It's easier to rout.
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Measure once cut twice and it's still to short.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 06:13 AM
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I agree with every piece of information you have been given....especially studying the videos on Oldave100. Eric has a video on cutting straight lines. Look in his listings and search for cutting straight lines.

Run your router at max speed all the time. If the grain is fighting you try taking a shallow cut. Then come back with a deeper cut until you are at your desired depth.

Another trick I recently learned comes from a hand carving site. Imagine a paint brush with its bristles cut at a taper....short to long bristles. Think of the bristles as the grains of wood. Make your cuts from the short side into the long side. What this does is keeps the longer grains intact and supporting the shorter grains. The results are smoother cuts and less struggles with control. To do this you need to think about bit rotation vs wood grain. Most router bases are marked with blade rotation. If yours isn't, put an arrow on it with a Sharpie.

Practice, practice, practice.......don't get too frustrated. We all still struggle with straight lines, too. And, there is nothing wrong with using a guide. I do this on really long lines.

Good luck....and have fun!!!
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 07:18 AM
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Not being a sign maker my method of routing a straight line may be off base. However, I always clamp a guide to the work. If you plan to make more than a few signs, an adjustable guide jig would be simple to make.

Gene Howe
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 10:13 AM
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In his book Making Wood Signs, Patrick Spellman uses T-square style guides to make straight lines on very large signs. He carves all the straight lines first and then goes back and does the curved lines. But, these are really large signs (4' x 8' and up). As Don (Hawkeye10) said, when you see your sign at normal viewing distance, the little wiggles and glitches pretty much disappear. Also try carving cedar as Don suggested. Trying to carve plywood probably adds to the difficulty because you are cutting through glue as well as wood. You might also experiment with a V-groove bit . For small letters I just make one pass with the 60 v-groove to complete the letters.
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