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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Just for the heck of it, I thought it would be interesting to list our DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS with Sign Making. Here's our list (after 3 years experience):

1. Price...we are lucky to get $20 for a 6"x20" sign around here. It's an economic thing and most people are careful with their spending in our area of the country.

2. The Overarm Pin Router turned out NOT to be the machine for sign making. It was too difficult to get straight lines while holding onto the lumber. Plunging the bit with the foot pedal is great but we can do a better job with a hand held palm router. We will probably use the OPR for hogging out the background instead of trying to do the delicate lettering.

3. Using Marsh spray cans for painting the letters black works great. However, we've gummed up so many sheets of sandpaper trying to get the over-spray off the surface of the sign. We now use Acrylic paint and a brush to detail the black inside each letter cavity. Less sanding.

4. If you are not careful, the black color will bleed when trying to hand rub a poly coat or oil coat into your finished wood sign.

5. Then there are those router bits. Straight, V and round nose all have their place in sign making. However, figuring that out has been a process.

6. Which wood? Around here, people don't have an appreciation for exotic wood and won't pay for it. So...we use Pine. Plain ole crappy #2 pine and cutting around the knots.

7. Templates: We make ours and that has to be figured out too. After deciding on some shape to make into a template, it must be cut and finished before using it as your master template. We have learned much from this process. (Templates for the board shape, not letters.)

8. We can take any shape and font from Adobe Illustrator and print it out then iron it onto wood (we use laser printers). However, can you cut out those shapes and fonts? Some fonts lend themselves to sign making while others are not going to work well. We find ourselves using ARIAL ROUNDED BOLD mostly for inset letters and some fat font for outset lettering. Also, proper spacing between letters is a process that we had to learn the hard way.

9. Make $40k Making Signs? IMHO, that could be done with 3 or 4 employees making signs with a few distributors to sell for you.

Finally...We have made many things in our wood shop that were easier. Even nice wood cabinets were more straight forward and less taxing. IMHO, sign making has details throughout the process that can be challenging. In short, we have been humbled by the entire scenario of making a simple wood sign.
 

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#3 Try using wrought iron flat black spray paint it worls well. Then instead of wasting sandpaper use a Stanley Surform finishing tool with a fine blade to clean off the excess paint.
#5 Use whatever bit that suits you. In my shop the lettering determines the bit I use.
#6 Most signs used outdoors are made oc Cedar.
#7 Templates??? I never use them for signs.

That's just my .02 worth.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
John, thanks for the idea using razer blades to scrape off the excess paint. It worked well today. Had not thought of that...easy fix.

Can you explain further your comment that the lettering determines the bit you use?
 

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Well, if I'm doing Old Englisg I use a V bit set shallow. If I'm doing Modern I use a 1/8" straight bit set about 1/8" deep. For script I use a round bit. And so on.
 

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Question

I just got into this sign carving, and opened up a whole can opf worms for me. I made a post in another segiment of this subject, on what I have learned so far & worked for me. But would wonder where in all of the segiments could I ask for a answer into this subject? Seems to be rather segimented, running in all kinds of directions ~~~~Hand Sign carving.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, if I'm doing Old Englisg I use a V bit set shallow. If I'm doing Modern I use a 1/8" straight bit set about 1/8" deep. For script I use a round bit. And so on.
John, thanks. However, are you doing INSET lettering with those bits? What bits are you using for OUTSET lettering?

( Also, I found out why I was gumming up the sandpaper...Not letting the ink dry properly!)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I just got into this sign carving, and opened up a whole can opf worms for me. I made a post in another segiment of this subject, on what I have learned so far & worked for me. But would wonder where in all of the segiments could I ask for a answer into this subject? Seems to be rather segimented, running in all kinds of directions ~~~~Hand Sign carving.
Yes, there are two SIGN MAKING sub forums which can be confusing. One is for the CNC Routing bunch. The other is here, under General Routing. We had to figure that out too. The real confusion can come from a GOOGLE SEARCH, which can direct your query to one of the two sign making sub forums. (Does that make sense?)

Maybe the forum administrators could look at confusion and combine the two. However, I can see why they have them separated into two...one for CNC and the other for GENERAL.
 

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I use the V and round for inset and sometimes a small straight bit. On the raised lettering I use only straight bits. I also wanted to mention that I use mostly Cedar for my signs.
 

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Hi guy's thanks for taking the time for your returns,
I had made a rather lengthy post over somewhere here as to how I arrived ,after destroying several cedar practice boards (GURRRRR), at making inset lettering on to an arch. This system also took in answering several post that some had . with some kind'a of guide & the importance of letter spacing,,,,,,anyway this system that I worked out ,worked great for me.

Ok here is a couple of problems that plague me not, persistently !!!!!
When I am using a down cut 1/8" bit to carve out a inset figure, then in painting the inset there is a tearing of the minute fibers on the very top part at the very edges (both sides) of this figure. That when a paint/ink is applied it naturally also sinks into these minute torn edges. I might say these torn edges run the length of the cut/s. Now trying to sand down using a belt or a random orbit sanders to a level where they disappear does not enhance that signs appearance any, and in fact ruin's it !!!! So has any one had to deal with something similar ????

Have you veterans here found that ink is a better removable coloring that say a latex paint, even givin the paint more that a day to dry. I am ruining sand belts at a very fast pace ? As seen on the web's video's, several show applying a even coat clear across the board including the fancy cut edging.
 

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I was not very prescise in making my question.

The sign makers on line, paint there whole board from one end to another. thus also covering the inset letters more concise than trying to paint the inside of the "V" one letter at a time.

I let my paint dry for 24 hours, still I went threw the belt,,,,zoom !!!

Have you had the same problem as in my first paragraph above ??
 

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Argoknote,
Are you refering to one of these, I just happen to own one,,,,do they come in different grits ????

Forget can not get it to transfer,,,,,,,,,,*(&^%^%##)
 

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Thanks for your head's up newMexico,

I have tried to answer to my self, just why I am having so much trouble one after the other doing this wood sign carving, for something to look so simple, and yet it seems to elude me as to make what I believe to be an acceptable plank, just can not nail it down,,,,, Ahwwwww well, anyways. Practice, Practice,

It seems that the surge of information on this subject happened about 2006, so I am around 6 years to late but grateful for the superb stored info. Seems like calling out there and hearing this echo. I wonder if all of those guy's & that gal are still amongst us ? Around that time I was building furniture for our home.

Thanks again NM ,be safe and stay alert,,,,,,John
 

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Even though, I have made 20-25 signs as Christmas gifts, this year, I consider myself a rookie at sign making. I also was getting frustrated at how many sanding belts I was clogging up with paint. I'd use the cleaning stick, but that didn't take much of the paint off. I read here that some used a thickness planer after painting. Thought about it, but between the fact that I don't have the room for it, I also didn't want to spend 4-5 hundred dollars on something I'd probably only use on signs. So on a last ditch effort, I spent 50 bucks on a Ryobi electric hand planer. (see below)

It's took a little practice. The planer is narrower then my sign boards, so you get a little seam to one side, if you don't hold the planer perfectly flat (and that's hard to do.) and also, if you don't apply more pressure to the rear of the planer, as you reach the end of the board, you get snipe. But with practice, it only takes a little sanding, with a medium grit belt (that remains clean a lot longer...) and then a fine disc on the orbital sander. Problem solved!! I again, began to enjoy making my signs.
 

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Hi Lee,
Thank you for your reply, I appreciate all of the answers that I can get in order to use what others have spent their time & money in an effort in getting where they are. In this relative new world of sharing instant info, and some times there at sites with pictures. Man what a age to have such access to gain knowledge.
Lee, a little about removing this black coloring from both where it should be & where it should not. I have had a Dewalt planer for some time now from my used in making furniture, and the thought of running it threw the planer did accrue to me. but, Well,,,,,,,,,,let me explain, here is an example.

I recently made a sign gluing two 5 1/2" ceder boards together long side to long side, saying in a 60" arc above, CHARLIE'S, then below, in an opposite 60" arc ends looking up, CARVINGS. Having a space on the seam between the boards, I carved into using Milescraft pattern maker, their square knot with their inscribed half round side on the two long ends of the knot. Now the wood left on the high side between all of the lower wood removed was very, very skimp. So after painting the whole board and letting it dry 24 hours,

THEN after going threw 3 belts I found that as the 1/8" down turn bit did its job on the inscribed knot great, but it also collapsed the upper edges of all of the sides of the wood around the knot. Leaving the paint in bedded in these jagged edges. Taking that board threw the plainer with those blades spining, I thing would have destroyed the figure,,,but also would have solved the problem of my jagged edges,,(joke).

I elected to go ahead and finish the board, it turned out miserable. Proving to me once again, That any mis step along the way to the end, whether my fault of a mishap of just circumstances in this sign making thing. No matter how close to there to the final end, or at the very start,,,,,, that board is scrap, period. but I am hooked trying to make these things, so onward,,,,,,,,,,,
 

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I can see your dilemma. And the arched signs sounds challenging in itself!! All the signs I have made, they were with pine, and had knots, but don't remember having issues with them. Thinking about it, I can't see how I didn't. Good luck, and would definitely like to see a picture of that sign when you're finished.
 

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Lee,
Did you read on one of the other post on this form on how I tried to share on how I got to the final way of making a fairly decient inscribe lettering on an arc. Using the Milescraft plastic letter patterns, & then in the second step of using their rigid framing ?

how does one transfer a photo from a computer to the post here. I tried but,,,,, (*&^$%#$#@) !!!!
 

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Yes I did John. Might even give that a try down the road.

And on the pics, first you must click on "New Reply", not quick reply. Then click on the "Manage attachments". Then click on one of the "Browse" buttons and find the pick you want on your computer. Then click on "upload". You won't see the picture on your post, but the file name will show up above the "Manage Attachments" button. Then type what you want to say, and hit reply. It should show up then. Should!
 

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John880 I was referring to this tool. I use the fine blade. If you use quick dry spray you'll only need to wait an hour.
 

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