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  • Writer's pictureSteve Schrecengost

Freehand carving small letters

So, I decided to carve a sign for my shop and to take along to craft shows. The design I chose was to have my business name, logo and a line of small text under my name. I knew this was going to be challenging because the letters were going to be approximately 3/8" (9.5mm). I immediately knew pine was not going to get the job. Pine has a tendency to chip out when carving fine detail. (Don't ask me how I know). Cedar can do the same thing sometimes. I have worked with poplar in the past, like the way it carves and had a small piece leftover from another project.

The key to carving details, after choosing the wood species, is to choose the correct bit. I prefer to use a 30 degree V grove bit for this type of detail. It allows me to carve deep without carving too wide. It provides the right balance between width and depth of cut. The next step is to set the depth of cut for these letters. Experience allows be to get close but I still err to the side of caution. I started out not quite as deep as I needed. No problem. After a quick adjustment, I re-carved the 'test' area and was ready to go.

Carving small letters isn't much different than carving larger letters. The trick is to take your time. A key technique I use on most signs, regardless of size, it to lift the router up as I get into areas that are narrow. This allows me to make letters of various width without adjusting the router. This technique requires a lot of practice to hone.

Well, that's about it. I created a video showing this process. Hope you like it.

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