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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey guys I'm new to routers and wood work in general but have had to start making a ton of wooden signs for our local parks at work. I am getting pretty decent at it but sanding the inside the letters is a pain to me.

All I'm doing is taking a 2x12 or 2x8 and cutting the wording for whatever the park name is, then staining the board, then painting the letters white. If I don't sand down the inner walls of the letters and the top edges it's difficult to paint and makes the job twice as long. And it looks bad.

I've actually been using pieces of old belt sander belts to do this but the ones I'm left with aren't working as well. I tried a sanding block, which was quickly mutilated. I was also using a dremel to run inside the letters to smooth them out some prior to sanding but I broke the old bits. My boss hasn't purchased new bits yet.

Any suggestions? Sorry for a long first post/thread.
 

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Need sharp router bits.
 
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That is what I was thinking also. I don't have any problems painting letters in signs I make after just routing them out and only surface sanding the face of the sign. Never inside the letters. Sharp bits will greatly improve things, even just making sure the bits are clean will help. A bit that has caked on pitch from prior use won't cut cleanly no matter how sharp it is. Also, I don't know if you are using treated lumber for this since it is an outdoor sign, but if the wood is treated lumber then there is not much you can do to about smooth cuts anyway until the wood dries out. If you are cutting it just after purchase while it is still wet then it tends to leave a lot of frayed edges and roughness instead of coming out smoothly. This will also increase the level of pitch buildup on a bit as well. One last thing, if it is wet treated wood, then the paint won't last long on it anyway. Gotta let treated wood dry out or it's just gonna be a disaster all the way around, in cutting and finishing, both.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks guys I'm going to try and get some of the sanding sticks. I've never heard of those. Or a sanding mop, which looks very interesting. I'd like to try it as well. I did get some new dremel bits today that I would like to try out.

Thanks a lot for that info Duane I didn't know any of that. The frayed edges inside the letters are what's causing me all the problems sanding and painting.

My next issue to tackle is cutting all the letters at the same depth (and not too deep) with boards that aren't perfectly flat and a table I believe has a bend in it.
 

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Ross
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Don't paint letters by hand

For future reference, it's easier to spray paint over the letters and then just sand off the over spray with an orbital sander. That way the sanding doesn't need to be perfect! Good luck.
 

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Rout the lettering, then spray paint the letters, not worrying about getting it on the surface around them. When it is dry, sand the surface of the sign to remove the paint from all but the letters. Then use a roller with just enough stain to stain the board surface, keeping it out of the letters.

Another way -

Stain and finish the sign blank. Then, cover the entire board surface with packing or blue tape. Rout the lettering. Then spray paint the routed lettering. When it's dry, remove the tape and the sign is complete.

I've done it both ways, but usually prefer the second method. Good carbide bits will leave clean and crisp lettering, requiring no sanding.

I work in a park too, but mostly drive the train that you can see in my avatar and fix the park electrical problems, but have also made signs.

Charley
 

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Use K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). Cheap too. Cut sanding belt into 6" lengths, put a hole in the center. Put it together. Bolt, nut, washers, will work fine. I would want it in a drill rather than a drill press. Should work as well as anything you buy. First photo was supposed to be last.
 

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I agree with several that the fairly wet wood is coating your bits. Get some blade cleaner and soak and scrub them clean. A clean, sharp bit should not require sanding. If the lettering is raised, use a hard roller to roll on paint over the top of the letters, then paint any other raised areas (faster and easier than painting the letters.

Or if it's one color and the letters are not raised, paint the well dried wood, then route the letters, then a few coats of protective finish over the top.

You might get a moisture meter to test the wood for dryness. You don't want more than 5-6 percent moisture. So much green wood is just too wet to work with. Kiln dried wood is more expensive, but cuts and holds up better. The other thing is that new pine grows so fast that the wood between rings is thick and soft. Once it dries, you might have to sand the surface before you make any cuts.

I think a sanding mop could damage the raised edges of your letters, so I'd definitely go for cleanup with some bit cleaner. Trend is what I use. https://www.amazon.com/Trend-CLEAN-...r+bit+cleaner&qid=1566358114&s=gateway&sr=8-2 About $14. It surprised me how much better the blade cut after cleaning. I cut a lot of pine.
 

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Are you using a template and the router has a bushing as your doing the routing?

Btw ,welcome to the forum
 

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Just remember the slowest part of nearly all work is the prep work, and that will always be sanding. I know this due to painting yachts for nearly a dozen years. The painting is the easiest part, and better (clever ways) can be done to make that neat no matter what. Tape is your friend here, as well some have stated, paint the letters first, and outer last (multiple way of doing this, including using Vaseline (etc..) inside the letters (or tape, etc..) and if you do get a tad blue on the inside, you can always touch that up with a artist brush with fast and good results without tape, etc..
 

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Are you using a template and the router has a bushing as your doing the routing?
Btw ,welcome to the forum
Looks like bullnose would do a REAL clean job here, in a template.
If you have to make a lot of these, spend time in making the template the best, so they all will come out the same and clean.
 

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I have used the method of spray painting the letters after routing them and have good luck with it. Just make sure that paint is good and dry before attempting sanding or it will clog your sanding pads and dust will stick inside your lettering.
Paul
 
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