Introduction: Miniature Road Signs

About: I'm a woodworker who makes fun woodworking projects in my garage and shares them with the world!

Watch my video of this project below to see how I made these, then follow this Instructable to make your own!

When I was a kid, my family would take vacation road trips from Atlanta to Panama City Beach, FL. So, I spent a lot of time in our Ford station wagon looking at road signs. We pass by road signs every day and take no notice, but if you really stop to look, there are many iconic road signs that are simply great works of art. I've come to really appreciate the work that goes into designing and creating a memorable marketing sign. If you want to get real geeky, you can play "Guess That Font" with your graphic artist friends!

For this project, I picked some of my favorite iconic road signs and local landmark signs, and made miniature versions of them using my scroll saw. Each letter, number, and logo element is cut separately from a pine board, sanded, painted, and glued back together to make the miniature sign.

These would make great gifts, conversation starters, and could even be used in model railroad scenes. Enjoy!


3/4" pine board, sandpaper, spray paint, glue, masking tape, clear packing tape, 1/4" dowel rod

Step 1: Find a Template

A quick Google Images search can find you the perfect template. For example, I searched for "Chevron Logo" or "Chevron Sign" to find a template for the Chevron sign. You can copy and paste the image in to Word, then resize it to the size you want to make. Pay attention to the smallest element in the sign to make sure you can cut it out, and if not, enlarge the image until you can. If you use a photo, choose one that is a straight on shot of the sign so it's not skewed. In many cases, you can just print out the image to use as a template.

For some of the ones I made, I pasted the image into Visio, then traced over the elements with shapes and lines to turn it in to black and white line art. This is a great way to simplify a complicated logo/sign and pick only the basic elements that you want to cut if there is too much detail.

It's a good idea to include a color image of the sign on your template to use as a guide for painting the colors.

Step 2: Drill Starter Holes

I used a very small drill bit to drill starter holes for each interior element of the sign. This allows me to insert the scroll saw blade at the starting point for cutting each element. I like to use Olson Reverse 12.5 tpi blades for this type of work. I cut all of the pieces out of a single board like a puzzle. This type of scroll saw project is called "Segmentation".

Step 3: Cut the Pieces

This step requires lots of patience and practice. I suggest starting with a sign that has very large basic shapes and elements. Cutting letters can be difficult. It can also be hard to keep up with the tiny pieces that come out of letters like O, P, B, R, A, etc. As you cut out each piece set it on a tray beside you and keep them in order. I like sticking them to masking tape so they stay together and don't blow away and get lost.

Step 4: Sand the Pieces

Take your time and use sandpaper to round the edges of all of the pieces. Rounded edges will give the sign a cool look with more depth and division between elements. It can also help to obscure any crooked cuts, mistakes, or gaps. I highly recommend the Gator Zip Sanding Sponge and these Detail Sanding Sticks for sanding small parts and crevices.

Step 5: Paint the Pieces

Separate the pieces on a piece of cardboard by paint color. This makes it easy to spray multiple pieces that need to be the same color. To keep small pieces from blowing away when you spray them, lay down a piece of masking tape sticky side up and then tape the ends down to the cardboard. Then you can stick small pieces to the tape so you can paint the front of them without blowing them away.

Step 6: Glue It Back Together

I recommend Aleenes Tacky Glue for gluing the pieces together. It dries fast and clear. Put a few strips of clear packing tape down on a flat surfaces so you can glue the sign together on top of it without it sticking too much.

I put a few small dabs of glue in the opening of a letter or shape, then push the letter or shape into the opening. This prevents glue from getting on the surface of the sign. If you try putting the glue on a letter and push it in, then the glue will scrape on the edge and sit on the surface. If you want to be creative, you can make some pieces of the sign stand proud of the background for a cool 3D effect. I just glued all my flat at the same level.

Let the glue set for a few minutes then slide the sign off the packing tape and set it upside down to dry.

Step 7: Display the Signs

I drilled a 1/4" hole in the bottom of each of the signs. Then I cut a few boards to uses as bases. I laid out the signs to see where I need to drill 1/4" holes into the bases. Then I used sections of a 1/4" dowel rod to stand the signs on the bases. These will look great on a desk, table, mantle, or book shelf. You could even hang a sign on the wall.

Here are pictures of all of the signs I have made so far. Each one brings back good memories of family, friends, and good times.

Thanks for checking out my Instructable for this project. I hope you can use this idea to make some miniature road signs yourself.

Click here to visit The Carmichael Workshop website where you can download free templates for this and other fun projects.

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