Thursday, March 7, 2013


When I talk to my clients to give them an update on a sign, I always say, "Progress update: Your sign is carved and is moving onto cutting and sanding!"  

Cutting simply means that I need to cut a board, where I've put more than one sign on it to carve, which is often the case.  So, I'll hit the scroll saw first to make each sign it's individual sign.

The Lorax sign, that I'm following through on these "how it's made" posts, was on its own board, so no cutting necessary.  

Which, gets us to sanding.

First things first, sand down the sides which can be frightfully uneven.  I use a belt sander to do this.

This makes the sides really nice and well sanded, and removes any inconsistencies.  I round the corners, because this is my personal preference.  Depending on the sign, I may run all edges (front and back) over the end of the belt sander, giving it a more rounded look overall.  

Then, it's to my workbench.  I'll take a coarse-grained sandpaper, and hand-sand over all the lettering, just to start getting all the little bits of curled wood off.

I reach for my handy-dandy dremel, which I couldn't live without, and sand each and every letter.

I sand with the tip down, to sand the flat part of the letter, then I turn the tip on it's side, going around, each and every letter to even them out.  

Yes, it's time consuming.

But, look how much better the top row looks from the others!

When the lettering is done, I change bits in my dremel, and make these little divots on the edges of both sides of the board.  I think without them, the piece is a bit flat.  This gives it a little something.  And, I think of it as my signature, of sorts.  

....Which sort of makes me think of serial killers that leave their mark, but that's not really what I intended.

That's the baby monitor in the background.  When the baby sleeps, mama works!

After all fine-tuned sanding is done with the dremel, I take a fine-grained piece of sandpaper and hand-sand the sides, back, and front of the whole piece.  I feel like this gives it a really nice finish, overall, smoothing it all together.

And, then, wha-lah!

Much better.  

I honestly should have carved this one at a higher depth, because of the smaller wording, but it seems to have worked out in the end.  So, that's all that matters.

Total time so far, about 2 1/2 hours.

Next step is stain or paint, or a combination of the two.  Decisions, decisions.

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