This is how I made a small hand carved wood sign from katsura (Japanese Judas tree wood).
Katsura is a popular wood used for relief carving in Japan.
(Click on the [i] at the top left of photos to see an enlarged version.)

Materials used
- One 11 x 22 cm piece of Japanese Judas wood (2 cm thick)
Cedar, cypress, and bass wood are also good for carving. Make sure you select wood that has no knots.

Tools used
- Handheld jig saw
- Router (Dremel tool with router attachment in this case)
- Assorted chisels
- Sandpaper (180, 400, 800 grit)
- Black enamel paint ("1 Shot" is best, but any exterior type will do)
- Clear varnish
- Small brush for varnish

Step 1: Design the layout of the sign

The next step was to design the sign layout on the computer. I use CorelDraw, but any graphics program, or word processor such as MS Word for example will do. Make sure you leave enough white space between the lettering and the edge of the sign.
Cursive or script fonts can be harder to carve, and I happen to like Copperplate which was used on this sign. Fonts with serifs (the little "feet") can be hard to carve, but the serifs in the Copperplate are quite small. The size of this sign is 11 x 22 cm.

Before transferring the design, I first prepared the surface of the wood by sanding, starting with 180, 400, then finishing with 800 grit for a smooth finish. Wrap the sandpaper around a small block of wood, or use a small electric sander for an even finish.
This sign looks great! Keep up the good work.
What kind of router attachment did you use with the dremel? Thanks!
I have an older Dremel tool, and the router attachment I use is no longer made. The newer models use a plunger router attachment: <br>http://www.dremeleurope.com/dremelocs-uk/product/2799/484/trio%E2%84%A2-accessories/dremel%C2%AE-trio%E2%84%A2-router-bit-set;jsessionid=A742326E340C2816D40EE3363823A44B.s032-dremel <br> <br>The router bit I used on the border is similar to the 2nd bit on this page: <br>http://www.dremel.com/en-us/Accessories/Pages/ProductDetail.aspx?pid=TR770
Nice job with the lettering! I like the idea of using the outline of the letters when you print them out, much better than solid letters - I know!<br><br>One thing I like about doing this sort of sign carving is that if you make a mistake painting the letters, you can always take a block plane set for a very light cut and remove the extra paint. I also like the finish the plane leaves on the surface, almost glass smooth!<br><br>Thanks again for the excellent instructable!
I made one of these the other day, before I read your ible. Really wish I had found it before, you have some good stuff in here.
Beautiful work!
You must have the patience of a saint. Very nice carving job, especially by hand.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a freelance translator living in Japan. I like to create furniture and signs etc. using reclaimed wood. See my blog for photos of ... More »
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