Router Forums banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,184 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,645 Posts
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
 

·
Marine Engineer
Doug
Joined
·
4,785 Posts
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!
 

·
Registered
Oliver (Prof. Henry)
Joined
·
2,194 Posts
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: kklowell

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,145 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,184 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,603 Posts
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". :laugh2: :lol:

Try routing routing western cedar that you buy at Home Depot. It's easier to rout.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
675 Posts
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!!!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gaffboat

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,705 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Oliver (Prof. Henry)
Joined
·
2,194 Posts
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 60º v-groove to complete the letters.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,184 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I am waiting for my first sign prep to dry. I will carve my first sign tomorrow. All the suggestions were helpful as well as old Dave's videos. Attached pics show my Trend T4 with the modifications I made for sign carving and my birthday presents. I got the stewmac base for a dremel and solid carbide bits for it from precisionbits.com for my birthday last week. Anyhow I had some plastic water line hose left over from installing the new fridge. I also had a junk airbrush that came with a spray kit. It had a spray valve and the air line fit inside the stew mac base blow hole and also inside the water line. The water pipe was shaped around the router using a heat gun. I put a HDPE base plate on the T4 for smooth movement and to add some drawer knobs for control. Two blocks one with a push toggle are used to clamp my signs while routing. So thanks to all for the tips and encouragement. This was a fun learning curve.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,186 Posts
When free hand routing, I have a strip of 3/4 X 3/4" pine that I attached some sand paper to the bottom side of. As I get to where I want to make a straight line cut I just place this stick against the edge of the router base, and parallel with the straight line that I want to cut, then just slide the router carefully along it until I reach the next turning point, at which time I can either go free hand again or re-position the stick for another straight line at a different angle. The stick should be held against the right side of the router when routing toward you and the sand paper side should always be held down against the surface that you are routing. The faster you run the router, the less side pull it will have. When doing light router carving with a small diameter bit always run the router on it's highest speed. It will be much easier to steer correctly. I usually use my laminate trimmer for this type of work because it runs at a faster speed than even my smallest fixed base router.

Charley
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top