Intro: Creating Wooden Name Signs
This is going to be instructions on how to make a wooden baby name sign! In the next few weeks my aunt is due to have my new baby girl cousin whose name will be Grace. So with my family tradition my mom and I made a wooden name sign to hang on the door with a ribbon. We've made these for not only all the new babies in the family but also teachers, friends, and coworkers.
These instructions will also include pictures of the sign made for her older brother Casey since we realized he didn't have one yet and it was easier to make them both at the same time. This also requires some techniques like changing the blade and inserting the blade into small drilled holes, if you do not know how to use these techniques you can follow the links for basic instructions on how to do those things. These instructions also assume you have some prior experience with a scroll saw so you should understand how fast or slow to work without burning the wood or breaking the blade, if you do not have prior experience please follow one of the links (not mine) for some pieces that might be easier. Please always be careful when using power tools. Tree Spirit, Coat rack, Egg holder, the Egg holder can give you an introduction to cutting a piece out without cutting from the outside of the wood.
Please read every step all the way through before starting it. This way you know what you need to do and reduce your chance of injury or error.
Step 1: Gathering Your Materials
- Scroll saw: Ours is a DeWalt 20 inch saw (DW 788) and is a few years old. It includes a light blower for removing sawdust from the top of the piece.
- Blades: We used a #2 blade for the inside pieces and a #5 for the outside.
- Drill: DeWalt (14.4v XRP) Drill bit: Small enough to fit into whatever size spot you need to cut out we used a 1/16".
- Thick chunk of wood for backboard of drilling, or wooden work bench.
- Safety glasses
- Sand paper: 220 grit
- Spray Glue: Multipurpose Adhesive (3M Super 77)
- Cardboard Paper Pencil Ruler
- Piece of wood: For Casey we used a 10 1/4" X 2" X 1/2" piece of poplar (poplar is recommended because it is inexpensive and light weight). For Grace we used a much thinner and larger piece of poplar.
- Paint Ribbon
- Wood varnish
- Table lamp
Step 2: Designing Your Sign!
Open up a word document, set it to landscape, and type out the name you're going to cut out, Casey or Grace for this. You're going to want to put them in all capitals. Now one of my favorite parts, Pick a font! For Casey we used Goudy Stout font size 110. Grace is Cooper Black also 110. However you can use other fonts so long as they are large types. I would not recommend fonts like Blackadder ITC or Curls MT unless you are very experienced and know the piece is going to be handled with care by its owner.
If the name is longer than 11 inches it will wrap around and that is fine. Just make sure that the total length of the piece is no longer than the distance between the blade and neck of your scroll saw. If it is longer than cutting the piece out becomes very difficult.
Print out your decision.
Then decide whether you want them underlined in some form, or not. Both of these are underlined but if you don't want to do an underline you're going to have to go to advanced font options (little square with an arrow in the bottom left corner of font on word). Then you can decrease the spacing until all the letters touch a significant enough amount. We usually underline though because it adds security to the sign and is easier to read.
For an underline like Casey you get to use your ruler and simply draw a straight line underneath the name overlapping the bottoms of the letters slightly. Then draw a line parallel to the first however far down you want the underline.
For an underline like Grace draw two puffy clouds underneath, after the gluing step, making sure to overlap the bottom of each letter at least a little bit so they're secure.
Step 3: Applying the Name to the Wood
You're going to need your:
- Spray glue
- Printed out name
- Wood piece
First, you want to cut out a rectangle around your name, this way there's a lot less extra paper to deal with and you can make all of the paper onto the wood so you don't have flaps hanging off.
Second, put the paper with the name face down onto your cardboard, this helps prevent getting spray glue onto your lovely table or work bench. Now with your fingers out of the way lightly spray the glue onto the back of the paper. Follow the instructions on the can for the best results.
Let the glue dry slightly so that the paper will be easier to remove later.
Once the glue is slightly tacky you can apply the paper to the wood. This is easiest on a flat surface and if you have a flat underline I recommend lining that up with the straight edge of the wood and folding any excess paper over neatly. If the piece of wood is a lot larger than the piece you want to cut out the paper should go closer to an edge to help reduce waste and make cutting the piece out easier. If you want to do clouds glue the paper down towards the top so you have room to draw them in.
Step 4: Drilling the Inside Spots
Please use your safety glasses for this step.
For this step you're going to need:
- your drill
- A drill bit
- Safety glasses
- Backboard for drilling or wooden workbench you don't mind drilling into
- Pencil (optional)
You're going to want to be in your garage or workshop for this, and the next several steps.
Place your backboard on top of a solid flat surface. Then put your piece on top paper side up.
Optional: before you drill you can put little 'X' marks to mark the smaller pieces you need to remove. Like the inside pieces of a capital letter 'A' or the two pieces in a capital 'R' to designate where you want to drill before you do so.
Before you drill make sure to hold down your piece securely so that when you drill into it there's no potentially harmful spinning.
Using a drill bit that is smaller than the pieces you want to cut out, drill straight down near the middle of the pieces you want to remove. (This is where the the 'X' marks can come in handy)
Step 5: Cutting Out the Inside Spots
Please continue to wear your safety glasses for this step. During this step small pieces of wood can/will pop out do not panic this is normal and they can be easily moved out of the way. Keep your hands away from the blade when it is moving! I can't stress that enough. This isn't a tool that will pull you into it but it is sharp and dangerous if not handled safely. If you are injured seek professional care accordingly.
For this step you will need:
- Your scroll saw
- #2 blade
- Safety glasses
- Table lamp (optional)
For this step you also need to know how to release the top of your blade and reattach it correctly. If you do not know how to do that please follow this link X. She uses a different saw than the one in these instructions but the only real difference is her ability to move the arm of the saw the steps are the same. You can see how we do it quickly in the first video but her instructions are more thorough.
First you're going to release the top of your blade, its not going to kill you but please be careful of the sharp points. Then from the bottom of the piece, put the blade through one of the pre-drilled holes. Then re-secure the top part of the blade. The first video will show you how this is done but moves quickly.
Now that you've gotten the blade safely inside the piece you need to cut out you're ready to start your scroll saw.
You are going to want to cut to the nearest edge of the piece if possible, it helps save time, and then work your way around the edge of the inside of the letter. This is easier explained by watching the second video.
Repeat this process until you have removed all the inside pieces.
Step 6: Cutting Out the Rest of the Sign
Please continue to wear your safety glasses and keep your fingers away from the blade.
For this step you're going to want to move to your #5 blade.
Now that all of the inside pieces have been removed you can cut out the rest of your sign. This step is as easy or hard as you decided to make it when you picked your font. Just follow the outline of the letters and underline that you've already determined and it can be really easy.
The first video shows a little technique for if you have a tight corner that's hard to turn around in.
The second video shows the last little bit before being done cutting out the sign.
The third video is much longer and shows almost the complete cutting out of Graces sign. If you skip to 6:55 in the video you can see what happens when the blade breaks.
The fourth video is feeding the blade back in and finishing up.
Step 7: Removing the Paper Template
To peal off the paper template you can just use your fingernails and scrape up on the edge, it should pull up fairly easily. A lot like when you have to remove a band-aid or a sticker from something.
Its easier to pull the paper up from the tops of the letters and then you can pull up one side of the underline and peal the whole thing off at once.
Step 8: Finishing
When sanding please wear safety glasses.
Before you pick your finish you have to sand down any rough edges. We use very fine 220 grit sand paper to get that job done, if there's a tight corner you can't get a full sheet into then you can just tear a strip off and use that. The video at the bottom is how to do this, but its not very hard.
Then you get to pick your finish.
Options include but are probably not limited to:
- Just sanding
- Wood varnish
Casey was just sanded and Grace was painted.
For Grace we wanted to hang it on a door so we added the ribbon. Measure out a piece of ribbon for two little bows on either side. Then measure out a longer piece of ribbon for hanging up from the back. Hot glue the long ribbon to the back of your piece, equal distance from the center and close to the edges will make it more balanced. Then you can glue your bows to the front lined up with the spots where the other ribbon are connected to the back.