- VCarve Pro software
- Shopbot CNC router tool
- paint or stain, dark color
- hardwood plank - I like maple, but poplar works well also
- some scrap wood for the jig
Note that access to TechShop or a well stocked Hackerspace makes this project easier. I used the Shopbot and VCarve program at TechShop San Jose.
Step 1: Prepare the sign blank
For my first attempt, I used some Rustoleum stain, "Kona" color, which is a rich dark brown. Leaving the stain on for 10-15 minutes makes for a nice color. For later signs, I used some IKEA black paint I found in their furniture section. See the Outtakes section for why I switched to paint.
Make sure to get the edges as well as the top surface, as the edges will likely be visible. I did not bother to paint the back, as I assumed it would be mounted to a wall.
Step 2: Lay out your sign in VCarve
I wanted the sign to be about 24" wide, and my maple hardwood was about 4.5" wide.
I set up my material in VCarve, then used the text tool to write out my sign text, and chose a font I liked, Times Roman. This typeface has nice serifs, which look good when carved.
I moved over to the path creation section of the program and selected the tool I planned to use, a largish V-Bit. After setting the appropriate feeds and speeds, VCarve created the shopbot toolpath file.