Routing and finishing a sign

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Established Member
17 Sep 2017
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Hi everyone,

I’m about to start work on making a sign out of oak. I have my piece of oak and template printed. Plan is to go round the template with a knife and chisel and then chisel or rout out the letters and numbers. Any advice/views on how you would do this?

I’m then thinking of painting the letters and then sanding it all down, hopefully leaving me with paint just in the routed areas, getting ride of any messy bits.

With regards to treating it afterwards, I’ve got no experience treating something that’s going to live outside. Any advice on this will also be much appreciated.

Many thanks!
You've started right by choosing oak, as it won't need any treatment.
If you choose a suitable typeface and print it out, you can stick that to the wood and cut through it.
You only need ordinary chisels.
I did one a few years ago. I used black cellulose paint in the letters. There's a picture in this thread which has some good advice in.

I did similar with a piece of oak plank (50mm thick) a few years ago. I didn't treat at all, and it aged well, apart from cupping quite badly. I could have perhaps prevented that by placing it somewhere drier, or multiple fixings?

If doing it again I'd definitely add a coat of something to retain the oak look, rather than silver. :D
I tend to rough most of it out with a router when I make signs, then finish with a chisel. I freehand the letters with paint, but don't get it all over the place as it is harder to remove from the edges than you might think.

I tend to coat with polyurethane varnish. Lasts years on oak.
A trick I have used, is to varnish the sign after the letters have been carved. This makes it easier to remove any hairy bits left from the carving. Also tends to stop the paint bleeding into the exposed end grain, and leaves a cleaner line.