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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Good Morning, I hope your day is going well.

What method would you suggest for someone who occassionally needs to engrave a name in a box lid. A few of the projects I would like to try are jewelry boxes for family members. I have read quite a bit about carving, burning, CNC etc. I would describe myself as a person that can not draw a stick figure. I am the least artsy person on earth so any free hand type engraving/carving would be a disaster. I am not opposed to spending a few hundred dollars (even 500) on something I will re-use occasionally. I have a 1617 router which seems to big for the task I have in mind, I also have a router table. I also have drimmels which would be more in line with my thinking. The boxes are jewlery boxes and the sizes are what you might expect and the letters anywhere from 1/2" to 4 or 5". I am computer savvy and open to a small cnc that doesnt cost me a kidney. I am not inexperienced with burning and not sure it would fit my needs/skill. Is there some kind of alphabet kit for routers/drimmels or guides for hand engraving for poeple that stink at drawing? Maybe a small, quality,reliable CNC.

What is your suggestion for getting letters and names into wood for the home woodworker that has no art skills, is a little shaky, and arthritic.

Thanks for your suggestion.

Donny
 

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Donny...I would stick with the Dremel and their accessories. For example, you could freehand with the wand or use the Dremel like a router with its plunge router attachment (335). They also have a base attachment which is fixed and smaller. It is height/depth adjustable. These attachments will make freehand much easier as they steady the Dremel tool.

As for the template you could do something as simple as using your computer fonts, print something (name, message, image, etc) then use carbon paper to transfer it to the workpiece (box, sign, etc). Then use one of Dremel's router base attachments to steady for freehand.

Dremel's bits will make it easy also...v-bits, ball bits, straight bits, etc... depending on the effect you might want.

Then just stay within the lines...:grin:
 
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Oliver (Prof. Henry)
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Have you considered investing in a palm router like the Dewalt 611? It is easy to use for freehand carving. You can print out your text and design from your PC, affix the printout to your stock, and carve through the paper following the design. You can also use Barb's wintergreen oil technique to transfer the printed design to your wood. Here's a very short video showing me carving through a paper pattern to make a sign. All of these signs were carved freehand with this method.

 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I am probably a little afraid to do any free hand as such a new woodworker. Would there be any type of kit where letters/guides are fastened together like the old newspaper printing days?
 

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How hard is it to route when you cant see the bit ??

If you're asking about the Dremel bases, there is a window in the base for visibility...see this quick video...
 

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Maybe something like a desktop laser ? I just recently bought an Ortur Laser Master 2. It was under $250 delivered and I have just started to use it for engraving and etching of items. Just another thought for you Donny.
 

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FreeHand Routing

How hard is it to route when you can't see the bit ??
Donny, good to see you here !!
there are literally dozens and dozens of good (and bad) video tutorials on YouTube.
a few techniques that make it "easier" is the larger than normal plexiglass baseplates and a small LED light to illuminate the engraving area (for those of us that are visually impaired).
I started out with white sticky shelf paper with the lettering and graphics either traced on with carbon paper or drawn freehand with a Magic Marker (from a template).
the key to any new adventure is practice, practice and practice some more.
many good tips mentioned above - just try something that is within your skill sets.
it is not expensive to get started at the entry level for hand-routing.
as for the Pyrography, Laser and the Dremel direction, it just depends on your budget.
looking forward to seeing some of your practice boards.

John

I have been visiting my local pawn shops lately and one item on my shopping list is an inexpensive DeWalt trim router. I want to cut the side out of it like in the below photo just so I can see the bit doing its thing.

router mod.png

.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks everyone, @Flipsaw , @John Smith_,

My ability to follow a line with a spinning tool is kind of what I question of myself. The laser is interesting, might have to look at some kind of engravers tool.

Thanks again, I will keep looking.


Donny

P.S. John good to here from you, hope your doing well.
 

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You can also get a rubber stamp made at an office supply. Since ink is alcohol base... you can't finish with shellac or it will bleed. Otherwise ink stamps work rather well to sign your work.
 

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I use a small shop made panto-graph and a trim router.
Two weeks ago I picked up a pantograph at WoodCraft, 2 weeks later I'm still not sure why, but there it is down in my shop >:)>:)

Appears to be fairly well made (Milescraft) and rigid enough. I"ve watched a few video's and can't say I"m overly impressed with the end results. Not bad, but not fantastic either...I do however have a few ideas on how to improve upon the end results. If I ever get around to it, and they pan out,,, I"ll be sure to create a thread....stay tuned,
 

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I was intending on buying one of these

https://m.kmstools.com/index.php?ma...23000000_23040000_23040200&products_id=109916

Until I read a few threads on Here about free hand routing. I personally, although none of my art is going to be hanging on the wall of a museum!(read/ terrible but I try, haha) I'm going to personally be going to try free hand before buying the jig.

Only 2 sizes of letters is quite limiting. But it may serve your needs. It is a option. Haven't used it myself obviously. Couldn't speak to the and results.
 

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Two weeks ago I picked up a pantograph at WoodCraft, 2 weeks later I'm still not sure why, but there it is down in my shop >:)>:)

Appears to be fairly well made (Milescraft) and rigid enough. I"ve watched a few video's and can't say I"m overly impressed with the end results. Not bad, but not fantastic either...I do however have a few ideas on how to improve upon the end results. If I ever get around to it, and they pan out,,, I"ll be sure to create a thread....stay tuned,
I got a Craftsman from Cherryville, several years ago, I never used it, Then I was given one that is shop made according to Mathias Wandel.
I print out a pattern and freehand to follow, or try to, the lines and it cuts well. I found out early on that you don't stop, just keep going even if you miss the line. Another tip is don't try and go over it twice.
The pantograph is adjusttable for 2-1,1-2,1-1,2-3,3-2 X the actual pattern size.
I gave a demo at our woodworkers club meeting, which is included here, you have to go to the bottom of the PDF to see the demonstration. It illustrates the freehand engraving.
Herb
 

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Donny freehand routing letters is like most other tasks, you need to develop the technique. I also agree with using a printer to print out what you want and then gluing it onto the work. I am not artistic and would never get the shape and spacing right otherwise.

I find the easiest way to rout the letters is to stay away from the edges to hog out the waste and then anchor one hand firmly onto the bench or my work and use the other to take a small stroke to cut to the line. Remember to always work left to right so that you aren't climb cutting. A small router is easier and one with a light helps. Like many others on this forum I have a DW611 which has a built in light. I have yet to hear anyone say anything really bad about this tool. It's a handy tool to include in your arsenal. If you get one I suggest getting the kit with fixed and plunge bases. I got mine for $149 Canadian. I think that extra base that Oliver was using is $35.

My preference when gluing patterns down is to use Lee Valley's fish glue. It's water soluble so when your ready to take the pattern back off all you do is spritz it with a spray bottle, wait a minute, then effortlessly peel off the remaining paper. A damp rag cleans the residue off. It sets pretty quickly too. Around 10-15 minutes.
 
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Discussion Starter #17
My biggest desire is the letters be very nice and straight, more machine look than art. I saw some rockler stuff this morning that looked a bit large.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far everyone. It is very much appreciated.
 

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My ability to follow a line with a spinning tool is kind of what I question of myself.
The key to following any line, is having a, sharp bit. When my routing starts going off the "wooden path" I'll call it, then I know it's time to either put that bit away and get the another out that's sharp, or get my bit sharpened. (I try and keep at least two bits of every type on hand.)

I do all my carving free hand, and I use the DeWalt 611. I have two that are corded, and one cordless (soon to be two, I think.)

I've been free-hand routing since 2011. You can use a simple Microsoft Program (I use Publisher) to create your lettering. Save what you create as a .png file. (You do this by clicking on file, then save as, then when the window pops up, you change the file format from Publisher (in this case) to PNG.) From there, you'll insert (you can drag and drop) the png into your creation, and flip it backwards.

I use wintergreen oil to transfer my patterns, so I get the exact same lettering/picture I created, without trying to make sure I have every line, and getting those lines right; be they curved, or straight... to get them transferred rather than trying to follow is easier for me. Someone on here (I think it's our Professor, Oliver) can post my tutorial on using Wintergreen Oil, if he would be so kind.... I can never find it!
 
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Barb...I think this is the thread you mentioned... https://www.routerforums.com/projec...oil-vs-lacquer-thinner-pattern-transfers.html


The key to following any line, is having a, sharp bit. When my routing starts going off the "wooden path" I'll call it, then I know it's time to either put that bit away and get the another out that's sharp, or get my bit sharpened. (I try and keep at least two bits of every type on hand.)

I do all my carving free hand, and I use the DeWalt 611. I have two that are corded, and one cordless (soon to be two, I think.)

I've been free-hand routing since 2011. You can use a simple Microsoft Program (I use Publisher) to create your lettering. Save what you create as a .png file. (You do this by clicking on file, then save as, then when the window pops up, you change the file format from Publisher (in this case) to PNG.) From there, you'll insert (you can drag and drop) the png into your creation, and flip it backwards.

I use wintergreen oil to transfer my patterns, so I get the exact same lettering/picture I created, without trying to make sure I have every line, and getting those lines right; be they curved, or straight... to get them transferred rather than trying to follow is easier for me. Someone on here (I think it's our Professor, Oliver) can post my tutorial on using Wintergreen Oil, if he would be so kind.... I can never find it!
 
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Thanks, Nick. I knew there were a couple versions here, somewhere...

And as of late, I told Ken over the weekend as we were doing that stump; you need to let it set a minute or two before you start rubbing. Something about that oil, it will first loosen it, then turn it tacky, so when you rub it, it's almost like a sticker. It's amazing.
 
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