Thursday, September 27, 2012

Routing a Sign - Part 3 - Finishing the sign

I've finished the horizontal and vertical portions of the letters and now move on to the straight angled parts.  This would include both sides of the V, as well as the A and the leg of the R. These are basically done the same way, by clamping a scrap piece of wood at the offset distance away from the letter being routed.  I had to brace underneath my scrap piece to clamp it securely.

The router then rides again along the side of the clamped piece.

Now... the hard part!  For the remaining curved parts of the letters, such as the top of the R's, the B, the bottom of the U and the C and of course the very curvy "&".  You really need to hold tight on the router and try to keep within the drawn lines.  As I said in Part 2, it's not perfect and it helps to practise a bit first!  Here are the finished letters:

First I take off the support wood underneath and trim the wood to size.  I then give the board a good sanding which can help remove some of the fine bits you sometimes get around the edge of the routed out letters.  It also removes any pencil or carbon markings and any small scratches that the router may make while moving across the wood.

I fill the letters with black craft paint, using a fine brush, carefully. Some people spray their whole board and then either sand or plane off the black on the flat parts.  I have not had success trying this, perhaps I need a different paint for that?

I did a second coat of black in the letters and checked for places where it wasn't solid enough.  With wood grain, the paint can sometimes soak in in places and leave small gaps in other places.

Once the black paint has dried, I use an exterior wood finish that soaks into the wood.  I used "Deftoil" by Deft which is supposed to "Protect Exterior Woods from the Harmful Effects of Rain and Sun."  This product is brushed on liberally and then left for 30 minutes to penetrate into the wood.  You then apply a second coat and wipe after another 20 minutes.

Here's the finished sign:

Please ask if you have any questions, this is meant to help others try out routing a sign so let me know if you make one.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Routing a Sign - Part 2 - Routing the Horizontal and Vertical Parts

>>>   You can find Part 1 here on how to set up the design   <<<

I have three routers, but for this job I'm using my small trim router. This router has a small square see-through base that is good for smaller signs. It takes bits with a 1/4" shank and I'm using my 3/8" round nose bit which I will leave protruding just less than 1/8" inch out of the base.  Because the letters need to be quite close together to fit on this sign, the groove from the bit can't be too wide or the letters will end up touching each other.  (I tried out the bit first on some scrap wood to see how it would look)

In addition to the router, the other thing I need is some clamps and a long straight piece of wood plus a 90 degree jig.  I make this jig crudely out of scraps and just screw it together. It will be used for the vertical parts of the lettering. The most important things with this are that the wood edges are straight and the jig forms a perfect 90 degrees:

Before routing I need to find out what the offset is from the edge of my router base to the center of the groove that it makes with the bit.  Your router is most likely not the same as mine which was about 2 3/8".  This measurement is needed because I am going to clamp a board down to ride the router base against, to keep the horizontal parts perfectly horizontal.

When I clamp a piece of scrap wood horizontally across the board, it needs to be clamped the same distance from the middle of the letter part I'm working on, as I determined the offset to be.  For example here below, to route the TOP of the E, the board is clamped this distance away from the middle of the top of the E (again for me it was 2 3/8")

I carefully lower the router into the wood and then ride the base along the boards edge, pushing my router against it firmly (to the left and against the board) and away from me.  If you let the router wander to the right, your letter will not be straight. If necessary, you can also clamp another board to the right of the base and then it has no chance to go off track.

I watch from low down (with eye protection) to see where to stop and start.  I then do all the horizontal letter parts that are at the top, so the E's the small part of the R's and the small part of the B.

I then move my clamped board so that it is the offset distance away from the horizontal middle parts of any letters.  In my case, again the E's the R's, and the B.  I move it again for the horizontal part of the A which sits lower than the E's. And I move the board to the top and clamp it there to do the lower horizontal letter parts, the L, the E's, the B.

Once the horizontal parts are complete I use my 90 degree jig to line up the vertical letter parts. I put a small groove in the jig where the bit will cut when the router is riding against the vertical portion of the jig.   Again, the offset is the same, but this jig can hook onto the bottom of the board (I still clamp it to keep it secure).  You can see where I drew a faint line from the middle of the L and then lined up the groove from the bit. I found this easier than measuring each time, since the jig has to be moved for each letter.

Here you can see the cut made with the router for the vertical part of the L.  I move the jig along to do the rest of the letters: E's, R's, I, B and U.

Although this is quite precise, it is not perfect... but this isn't a CNC router, it's hand done!

Tomorrow I'll finish the remaining parts of the letters, see Part 3 for that.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Routing a Sign - Part 1 - Setting up the design

I make a lot of hand painted signs, but now and then I do a routed sign.  They take much longer to complete, but they are just as creative and fun.

Someone who saw me at a craft show contacted me to make her a routed sign, so I photographed the process.

The finished sign looks like this:

Now I'll explain how the process goes

Valerie wanted a basic sign to hang outside that was 18" long.  I chose cedar because of it's ability to last outdoors and I cut a piece of 1" thick cedar from a deck board.  I left it a few inches longer than the finished sign would be to allow me to have extra room for routing (you'll see this later)

I chose to use a basic, straight font without serifs.  This font is Calibri and I blew up the size on my computer so that the letters would fit on the 18" board and then printed it out on my printer.

I taped the paper together, taped it onto the board and put carbon paper under the letters:

Then I traced the outline of the letters with a pencil and the carbon paper transfers that onto the wood quite clearly:

Here are all the letters finished and ready for routing:

For routing, the board has to remain solidly in place otherwise the torque of the router can move the wood.  Often I clamp down the wood to a worktable but usually the clamps are in the way of the router and have to be moved.  This time I screwed a scrap piece of wood to the bottom of the sign.  The screws are in the waste area at each end of the sign (remember I left it long for this reason) and the sign will be trimmed after the routing is finished, removing the screw holes.

After turning the side right side up, I put it on my husband's work table which has an opening that can be adjusted by turning the knobs on the front. (Please don't look too closely at the table, it's not pretty, but it serves a purpose)  The table closes in on the scrap wood I put on the back and this way the sign is firmly on the table without any clamps in the way.

Now we are ready to route out the letters, so tomorrow I will post on setting up the router and starting the routing.  Please see Part 2 for that information.

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DIY showoff

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Shutter Repurposed Into Shelves

This project is a shutter which is turned into a backing for three small shelves and it appeared a week ago as a Guest Post at My Repurposed Life.  Gail, who writes that blog, is the Queen of Repurposing, so it was a pleasure to be able to show my project on her blog.  Thanks again Gail!

I began with a shutter that I bought at a local re-use store.  I'm using a 12" x 30" fixed shutter.  By fixed I mean there is no mechanism to open and close the slats.

This is how it looked before and then after I put a quick sloppy coat of white paint over the whole thing.  I purposely allowed some of the stained wood to show through in parts (I filled the old hinge and handle holes with spackle first):

I decided on three shelves which I made out of 3/4" thick pine, because that was what I had in stock.  I cut them to 11 1/2" long and 4"wide.  Of course you could do anything you wish to fit your own shutter size.

Each shelf will be held up with 1/4" thick pine brackets, so I dadoed (cut a groove in) each shelf underneath where the bracket would go.  I use a router with a 1/4" wide straight bit, which will make the dado the exact thickness of my brackets.

I put the grooves in the shelf so that they would match up with the middle of each side of the shutter.

I planned the size of the brackets by making a template shape out of paper to see how the bracket would fit.

The bracket would look something like this with a jog in the length of the back making it shorter than the full length of the bracket.  This allows you to cut a slot in the shutter for the bracket to fit in with the bottom edge of the bracket covering it.  You don't have to be perfectly accurate in your shutter slot this way. The bracket goes into the shelf as well as the shutter, so when measuring, take this into account.

This length between the arrows is the length of each slot

Using this template, I cut six brackets from 1/4" thick pine.  Then I marked where my slots would go in the shutter to hold the brackets and cut them with my router, again using the 1/4" bit.  (This photo shows the shutter upside down)

The back of each bracket then fits in the slot on the shutter and the top of each bracket fits in the groove in the bottom of the shelf.  They are glued in place and there is no need for nails or screws since they are fitted into each other.

After the glue dried I put a stain on the shelves to make them match the old colour of the shutter and then put some vaseline here and there.  This doesn't allow the top coat of white paint to stick where the vaseline is.  I put a coat of white paint over top, as I did with the shutter.

On the back I screwed in two triangle shaped hangers and on the front at the bottom I put two hooks.

Updated to add:  See the turquoise shutter shelves I made here

I hope this gives some readers ideas to make their own shutter shelf.  I welcome any questions about the making of this or any woodworking project. Everything I make is for sale, this shelf is $80. SOLD

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The North End Loft

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bus Scrolls

This is not an original idea, but I like the look of bus scrolls and the idea that they can be personalized.

I used plywood and painted it black.  I planned the lettering on my computer to get the spacing properly and then printed it on my printer.  Since I'm working on black, I couldn't use the carbon paper I normally use, so I used a grey chalk pencil and scribbled over the back of the letters.  Then I traced the letters and filled them in with white paint by hand. I used a semi-dry brush technique which meant the letters are not all completely solid.

These are all my local communities, which I painted as a sample:

For sale, as are all the things I make, just let me know what cities or towns you would like.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Letter and Number Tiles

I'm sure many of you have seen and even made blocks with letters on them.  This is something a bit different that I came up with.

I made these letters and numbers out of leftover 2 1/2" wide and 3/4" thick wood strapping, that I believe was about 8' long. This type of strapping is used in construction and has slightly curved edges, which gives a nice finish.

Each length of strapping was first grooved on one long edge and then I cut away to leave a tongue on the opposite edge.  Obviously the tongue has to fit the groove! I showed making grooves here in this link

After the long piece is done, I cut it up into pieces that were 2 3/4" long.

You can see here how they fit together.  It's not too tight and not too loose, so they can sit upright on a shelf, but are not so tight that you can't move them around.

Each tile was then painted white and then I hand painted letters and numbers on them.  I used a basic font that I had on my computer and enlarged to the correct size, about 1 7/8" tall.  I printed them out on my printer and used carbon paper between the paper and the wood tile to transfer the outlines of the letters. Then I filled in the letters with black craft paint.

After painting, I used sandpaper to distress the letters and also added a bit of glaze mixed with brown paint. When that dried, I also coated them with a clear coat.

I sell them at my booth for $2 each and they are liked by children the most, although some young women like to buy their name and a heart and their boyfriend's name, or just I ♥ U!

Here's a few samples:

Everything I make is for sale, please contact me if you are interested.  
I also do custom orders of all my products.

With this blog post:

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