Custom Wooden Signs Made With Shopbot CNC Router





Introduction: Custom Wooden Signs Made With Shopbot CNC Router

About: Trying to learn faster than I forget. It will be cool to make some stuff along the way.
My friend just opened a new toy store. I'm so proud of her! She's just awesome and really great with kids and families.
I wanted to help her out by making some signs for her new shop.

This project was created using the ShopBot Alpha. Its a big CNC router that can turn a huge sheet of material into a work of art... with the right guidance anyway. Most of you will not have access to this tool, but if you do, this is a project that will be easy to make.
I first saw this tool at the Tech Shop and wanted to learn how to use it ASAP!

you will need:
Wood - I used a primed MDF board - it came in 11.25" width
Router bit - 1/2" 90 degree V bit
Chop Saw
Screw Driver
Measuring Tape
ShopBot CNC Router and associated software.

Step 1: Design Your Signs

I used VCarve Pro by Vectric to lay out the sign.
This software was provided by the Tech Shop for the members to use. They have a demo you can download to practice with.

I had found a freeware font that had a train motif that looked fun.

Step 2: Cut Wood

My "toys" sign design was 25" but I knew that I would have to screw the wood to the bed of the router, so I added a couple inches extra. The other signs were a bit longer.

Step 3: Mount Plank to Router Bed

Line up the wood and screw it down so it does not move during the cutting process.
Use a T-square to assure it will be properly aligned on your x and y planes.

Step 4: Check Tool Paths on ShopBot Software

set up your x,y, and z positions in the software and be sure the router is programmed correctly. Run an "air pass" above the material as a test to be sure everything looks right before you cut the wood.

Step 5: Run the Router

If everything looks correct, run it!

Step 6: Remove Sign From Router and Cut Ends Clean

Remove the screws to get your sign off the board.
Cut the ends off the sign to finish it.

Step 7: Enjoy Your New Signs!

I made these signs at the Tech Shop in San Carlos, California.

If you don't have a Tech Shop close by, check to see if there are other collective shops or schools where you can use this equipment.
I was very pleased with how it came out!



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    18 Discussions

    this is such a cool thing, thank you very much for sharing.

    Nice instructable. CNC equipment is easy to design and build for yourself if renting doesn't suit you --providing you have the drive, willingness to learn, willingness to risk failure, the cash,....etc.

    1 reply

    Hi! I have a pet sitting business and need a custom sign with my logo for my farm. I'm in Los Angeles. Would you be interested in making me one for my gate and I can pay you? Thanks! Morgain

    1 reply

    mmcgovern3 You should do a search for cnc carved signs in your area, perhaps Craigslist and there are many listings on ETSY. I myself am retired, have a boutique custom CNC business called Heritage Carving and Woodworking and can be found on Facebook. Good luck because there are hundreds of serious hobbyist who can give you a local solution.

    So whats the point in having this kind of instructable, if very few people have this or access to this kind of machinery. More like someone blowing his own trumpet

    6 replies

    CNC routers can be purchased for *fairly* reasonable prices. For example, the V90 at is only $599. It all depends on how big of a cutting surface you need and how many features you're looking for.

    wow! thanks for sharing that link. Base price was without motors, but $1000 for a tool that could be used to make custom pieces would pay for itself quickly.

    Sorry - forgot to mention that this is just the base kit without motors or a controller. With the basic motors, controller, and and power supply, this device is $889.90. IMO, still within the "hardcore hobbyist" price range.

    Agreed - now someone do the same thing using a $20 plunge router, or making a jig to convert a hand drill to a router, or use a hand chisel and mallet.

    *EVERY* project requires tools which some persons won't have. It may be a $25,000.- router or laser cutter or it may be a screwdriver. The whole idea of Instructables is to show one's work so others may either learn techniques or duplicate the effort. roballoba
    is upfront with us, telling us how to get the use of a major tool like he used but he also showed the design work involved. We can all learn from that, even users such as yourself, who never seem to contribute anything except negative comments.

    This instructable shows what can be done with this equipment. I am sharing an idea and a bit of how to do it. Sure it's specialized equipment and I am excited and privileged to have access to it. If you have no community workspace or shop in your area, you could check with a professional shop or service bureau that would be able to produce your idea for you. Shopbot has a network of owners who are able to work with you.

    This exercise is part of our learning experiences. If we never find out how things can be done then nothing can progress. This project may propel someone into a new business. I found it very interesting and educational. Thank you for taking the time to enlighten a lot of people.

    Looks good and your VERY lucky to have access to such machinery.

    There are far too many instructable recently that require several thousand (if not tens of thousands) of dollars worth of equipment. Sadly puts most of it out of the reach of the normal man in the street.

    I also wonder is someone in Birmingham (UK) has a desktop wallpaper of the golden gate bridge :)

    Shopbots are a wee bit expensive! Nice job though and nice of you to help your friend out.