A bespoke house sign is a great addition to your home. In this guide we’ll show you how to achieve a great finish by using your router.
Time to make: 2-3 hours (plus time for lacquer/finish to dry before sanding.)
You will need the following tools to complete the project:
- ¼” Router
- Marking Gauge
- Letter / Number Template
- Guide Bush Adapter
- V ¼” Router Cutter
- Ebonising Lacquer (Or a finish of your choice)
- Exterior Varnish
Top Tip – We recommend using a ¼” router as it’s light and easy to control for small work such as this. If you only have a ½” router, you can still create your sign by using a ¼” cutter.
- Wood for the sign; size and type to your preference
- Small amount of ply or scrap wood for holding the jig
Before you get started
Stability is key when routing details. To avoid putting any fixings or drilling holes into the workbench and sign, we made a holding board and a cam clamp with spare pieces of wood we had.
Choose your method
We’ve detailed two ways you can make your sign; freehand or using a letter template jig. Working freehand demands more more control over the router, which can be more difficult when starting out.
Set up your workbench to hold the sign in place securely, whether you’re using clamps, holding board or something similar. Make sure there is enough room for the router to able to move freely on the sign.
With the router still unplugged, set up your router using a V cutter. Zero the router to the board and then set the depth to 5mm.
Using a marking gauge, draw a guideline for the bottom of your letters to sit on and mark out the centre point.
Lightly write out your text with a pencil on to the sign in the font and design you wish. Don’t forget that your cut is going to be thicker than your pencil line so leave plenty of space for each letter.
Carefully route out each letter following your text template.
Go to the Finishing step.
Using a letter / number template
Set up your workbench to hold the sign in place securely, whether you’re using clamps, holding board or something similar. Make sure there is enough room for router to able to move freely on the sign.
Mark out the centre point and place the template on to the sign where you would like the letters to go, marking the bottom of the template across the sign.
Top Tip – Don’t damage or mark your sign by fixing the template directly into the wood with screws. You can attach two thin lengths of ply to the sign (the same length as the sign), with strong double sided tape to each end, the templates will then sit comfortably between the two pieces of ply.
Working from the centre outwards mark out your letters using the template. Pencil them in to check the placement and make sure the spacing between letters is equal.
When using a template you will need to fit a matching size guide bush to the router as the template. Without plugging in the router yet, setup adding the guide bush and the router bit.
Zero the router to the sign, then set the depth to 5mm. Attach the plunge base if not already; this must be used when using a template.
Clamp an end of the template to the workbench, you can place a block under each clamp for equal pressure on the template.
Check there is enough space for the router to move around the template freely without any obstacles in its way before starting.
Begin routing out each of the letters in turn; you will need to move the stencil into position for each letter.
To colour/stain our letters we used Chestnuts Ebonising Lacquer, this gave a very deep black to the text. You can use exterior waterproof paint and the colour is your preference. Spray the lacquer in a well ventilated area covering the majority of the sign making sure all of the letters are filled in with lacquer and leave to dry.
Once the lacquer is dry, sand down the sign, leaving only the lettering coloured.
Finish by covering all of the sign with an exterior varnish or oil, preferably with UV protection.
Once dry it’s now ready to be displayed!