How To Carve A Timber Sign

  • timber sign in front of a beach house

Create a timber sign for your property as a fun way to stake your claim and liven up your outdoor design. Timber signs looks especially great in properties and décor with a laid-back vibe like beachfront homes and bush shacks.
To make a timber sign use a long piece of weathered 170 x 35mm board to carve a sign by hand or using a power chisel. To finish, weatherproof the newly exposed timber with oil or varnish and hang it at eye level using rope.
TIP Choose hardwood as it gives cleaner edges than softwood.

Creating the letters

Find a font to suit the name and a size to fit the timber then print out and cut the letters.  We used Times New Roman scaled up to 300 point. Older traditional fonts tend to be easier to reproduce as they were created in a time when letters were designed for carving.

TIP For decorative motifs look online for simple line-drawing clip art.

Choosing a name

Don’t know what name to choose? Before the 1930s most houses were christened by the architect, builder or first owners, usually in honour of a holiday destination or a local name.  If you’re stuck, get to thinking about a favourite family holiday or a name you admire.

Step 1 Prepare the templates

Scale up and print the letters and decorative motifs then cut them out using a utility knife.
TIP Use heavyweight paper of about 200gsm to make the templates easier to mark around.

Step 2. Position the letters

Use double-sided tape to position the templates, marking around the letters with a coloured pencil or scoring with a utility knife. Position the decorative motifs, marking around them on the timber using a small V shape chisel.

Step 3. Etch out the letters

Use a V shape chisel to cut along the centre of the letters, making several passes and going deeper each time until the letter is almost cut to width. TIP - Have a sharpening stone handy to hone the chisels regularly

Step 4. Define the edges

Use a flat chisel to work from the outside of the letters into the centre then refine the outline using a narrow chisel. TIP - To cut clean edges, turn the chisel upside down so the bevelled edge faces up.

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