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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
so, you want to make some routed wood signs ??
or, perhaps you want to learn "Sign Carving" with a router.

WARNING: _ This tutorial is not for the faint of heart. (some cutting and amputation is required).

a member asked me what would be the best hand-held router for making signs.
well, of course there is no right or wrong answer to that. it comes down to the person's skill level, artistic ability, experience with hand-held power tools, and the list goes on.

here is just ONE example that I chose to make a DIY Sign Carving Router.
I purchased a new Dewalt 611 Trim Router. (other brands may work for you).
even the larger 2-1/4 hp routers can be "modified" to a similar configuration.

this is the new router as received, right out of the box:
as you can see, there is not much room to see what the router bit is doing (and awkward to hold).
this particular router model has two LED lights so you can easily follow the lines.


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and after the modifications are made.

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Dust Removal

And what about the dust?
that is today's project: I am using a piece of 1" PVC pipe profiled to fit
on the back of the router for a shop-vac hose. (more cutting will be required).
if a person actually built this type of modification, they would probably figure
out their own dust control attachment or other means of dust control.
after all the modifications are done, I will make a short video to sum it all up.

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This also addresses the safety issue of the exposed bit right where you would naturally grip the router with your thumbs.

Question for sign makers, wouldn't a plunge base be easier to manage when plunging the bit into the material, or does in work just to tilt the fixed base down to engage the bit?
@OutoftheWoodwork Barb, I would love it if you were to shoot a little cell phone video of you making and carving a simple sign. It would help get me past not knowing how it's done. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
ya'll are missing the point: this is a dedicated set-up for sign carving, nothing else.
that is one of the reasons the two knobs are so far apart from the spinning bit.
yes - there is an inherent risk with the "thumb guard" being removed.
but there are similar risks for every power tool in the shop.
unless you have extraordinarily long thumbs and not much common sense, the risk is minimal.

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Tom: I have never used a plunge router. I have one, but it lives in the router table.
(the legs are frozen up so it no longer acts as a plunger).
years and years of hand-held router work has made me comfortable with the tilting method.
if a person wanted to use the plunge router, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

just got back from my local Thrift Store with the fittings I need to make the shop-vac attachment.
it was a fun Covid Project ~ now, if only I had some signs to make !!

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Barb, I would love it if you were to shoot a little cell phone video of you making and carving a simple sign. It would help get me past not knowing how it's done. Thanks.
No promises, Tom, but I'll see what I can do this weekend. I made a video on my finding with the Wintergreen Oil, but I can't edit it the way I want to with the editor on YouTube, so there it sits.

Yes, I use a plunge. Didn't when I first started; I used a fixed base. But as I got into the craft more, I found it easier to use the plunge, mainly because I can have my sign bit on there, have the router running, and plunge the bit into the lettering to where the bit (most of the time) will go deep enough to fit into the line all the way to the edge.
 
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@John Smith_ Like your base design! Eric Rhoten and his dad have a base I've wanted to try, but never ordered it. I, too, use the DeWalt 611. I have a Makita, and not thrilled with it; especially since the model I got had no lights in it. Talk about not being able to see what you're doing!
 

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Oliver (Prof. Henry)
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I used the Dewalt 611 and a Rhoten base plate when I was hand carving. I found the fixed base router was easier to use than a plunge base, and the wider handles on the base plate gave great control. The Rhoten base plate is only a $25 investment, and worth trying if you want to do some freehand carving.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
okay - here is the completed project.
I will probably cut a piece of 1" aluminum pipe and weld it onto the back to eliminate the PVC thru hull fitting.
I have some thick wall alum. pipe and it will weld good. I don't trust my rusty TIG skills right now to do it myself so I will get my friend at the welding shop to weld it for me.
and will probably modify my 2-1/4hp Dewalt the same way. now that I see how well it works.
then the standard 1" PVC elbow will fit snugly onto that. the shop vac hose fits nice and snug on the 1" PVC pipe out of the elbow.
all in all, it was a fun Covid Project. I think I will call this one a "prototype".

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if anyone wanted to make this connection to any router they have, the 1" hole saw will
cut a nice hole for 1" PVC or Aluminum Pipe to fit in - and attach your shop-vac.

WARNING: KEEP YOUR FINGERS AND THUMBS CLEAR OF MOVING BIT AT ALL TIMES.

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Looks good, John.
 

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Those are some great ideas John. Since it's dedicated to sign carving not much depth of cut would be required so when you mentioned dust control it made me think of 2 base plates with a space between them and sealed around the outsides edges with a hose nipple glued on on the backside. Some of the OEM setups for dust control are similar to that. Most of those type plastics are easy to bend to shape with heat (for the strip that would go around between the two layers of plastic). I've even modified sewer pipe with heat.
 
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