Making signs

One of the cool things about a CNC machine is the ease at which you can produce really good looking signs out of pretty much any material. One of my ‘commissions’ was to make a sign for a guy in Scotland who contacted me on Instagram. He had seen I’d made a house sign and asked whether I could make one to hang above his hot tub. I wasn’t intending to charge him other than the postage so in order to keep costs down I used some old pallet wood I’d reclaimed. The results came out pretty well and he loved it.

Another request came closer to hand, when Tina mentioned that one of her colleagues at work asked whether I could make two bedroom door signs for her young daughters. My usual process is to firstly go and do a Google images search to get some inspiration on what the signs could look like but in this case I went straight into designing using the Vectrix VCarve software.

But having checked with Tina, we didn’t feel they were ‘girly’ enough, so went back to Google and found a sign I thought could work. A quick design in the CNC software and I then got to work cutting the signs and the accompanying butterflies and flowers.

In the end I added some rope for hangers and gave both a coat of varnish. And the girls absolutely loved them, even to the point that the younger one Evelyn just kept walking around carrying it like a handbag not wanting it to be hung on her door.

Another request came from a difference work colleague of Tina’s, this time asking for a sign to give to her friend who had recently got engaged. Again I knocked up a mock-up, which was accepted and soon the CNC had produced the sign. Again they loved it.

One of the reasons for buying a CNC was the fact that the output is so exact, crisp and clean and so far it’s proving that way.

I’m happy just making these as for me the enjoyment is the creation and reward of seeing something produced that looks good and the recipient is pleased with. Perhaps one day when I’ve retired I can set up my own business selling these for profit but I’m really not sure I’d get the same pleasure in making them as I do at the moment.

Making Stuff Part 3

Having got to grips with making wooden things again, I started to look around for some gifts I could make for my family and friends using some of the small off cuts of timber I had accumulated over the months.

IMG_1809Following on from the success of the key holder that I engraved I decided to have a go at making some wooden signs, which I could personalise depending on the recipient. The idea actually came from my sister-in-law who had seen a wooden sign of our favourite holiday place, Kalkan and suggested I could make her one too.

I had already bought a hand-router, and worked out that if I printed out the words I needed and stuck them to a wooden blank I could then trace through, leaving a neat finish. Painting the letters black made the them stand out and I was pleased with the final once I’d finished the sign with a coat of wax. IMG_1793

I refined the process and was soon coming up with ideas for other members of my family and even made a couple for secret Santa gifts for people at work. To finished them off I drilled some holes and threaded a piece of hemp rope which could be used to hang them from a wall.

 

I even knocked one up for Matt & Chloe’s tortoise.

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Whilst making signs was fun, it was quite fine woodworking and so I got to think about a bigger project to challenge me. 20 years ago, one of the projects I enjoyed making was a pine coffee table, a simple design but very sturdy and still in use today in Tina’s sewing room. As I had some larger planks and long lengths of oak I decided I would attempt to make another table; this time a little more refined and fancier features. I researched online and got some ideas that I could adapt.

IMG_1776Firstly I cut down two wide planks, planed and then glued them up, using biscuit joints and clamps to keep them level. I then got to work on the legs and skirts. I had liked the look of tapered legs so wanted to incorporate these in my design but wasn’t quite sure how to achieve it. After watching a few YouTube videos, I stumbled on a technique using a table saw and soon had four legs shaped in exactly the style I wanted. IMG_1778

Once the top was dry and cut to the final size, I then used a 45 degree router bit to edge it. After lots and lots of sanding and a coat of wax finish the table was complete and too be honest I was rather chuffed with the outcome, especially as it was something I’d designed from scratch.

With Christmas now looming fast and colder temperatures in the workshop, any thoughts of new projects were few and far between but knowing I had some time off over the festive period I was determined to utilise one of my new tools, namely an Erbauer plunge saw that I’d purchased from Screwfix. Cutting large sheets was always a challenge on my table saw and having some ideas on projects using MDF and plywood, I decided a dedicated circular saw would be a good tool to have.

My next blog will cover how I turned some large sheets of MDF into a shoe rack for our under-stairs cupboard.