How to make signs more readable

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How to make signs more readable

Postby Rubiconlwb » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:24 am

I intend to make some signs once I get familiar with my new CNC router. I have made two so far and although they turned out pretty, they are not very readable. Does anybody have any suggestions for making them more readable. I thought I could one of two things. I could stain or paint the board before cutting the letters so the lighter colored wood would show through. I also thought that I could paint the cutout part so the letters stood out more. It seems to me painting inside the letters could be very tedious and I'm sure there would be some slop-over on the surface that one would have to sand off. Any other suggestions?
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Re: How to make signs more readable

Postby Makingtoothpicks » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:38 am

This topic is an almost eternal discussion. Some or 1 picture would help the pro's
help you. You can use finishing as a search word and find many examples. I am
sure there must be a video tutorial covering this. Look in the picture galleries on
this forum for examples of what others do.

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Re: How to make signs more readable

Postby FixitMike » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:38 am

What I do for signs with paint filled letters. (See some examples on my Facebook album at )
1. Filler and sand as necessary to fill large pores in wood.
2. 1 or 2 coats of clear finish before carving.
3. Carve.
4. 1 coat of clear finish to seal carved areas so paint doesn't bleed.
5. Acrylic paint to fill carved lettering. Wipe off excess with damp cloth.
6. Paint dries. Sand off any more excess.
7.Clear finish to protect paint in carving.
Good judgement comes from experience.
Experience comes from bad judgement.
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Re: How to make signs more readable

Postby mezalick » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:01 am

For what it's worth..
I just thought I would add this bit of information in case anyone is planning on making signs that would be read from some distance.

Duration of Readability.jpg
Letter Visibility Chart.jpg
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Re: How to make signs more readable

Postby martin54 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:20 pm

You haven't said what sort of signs which makes it a little more difficult but I am guessing you are talking mainly about small signs that people put on doors for bedrooms, workshops etc :lol:
I am a sign maker so most of what I do is what is probably classed as commercial signage dealing B2B, lots of rules & regulations that won't be of interest to you & mainly working with cut vinyl & digital print. Very little of what I do actually involves using my CNC machine.

There are lots of different techniques for the sort of thing you are looking to do but most of them centre around the post Mike has made, the important thing is to make sure the wood has been sealed to prevent bleed, doesn't matter what you are using for lettering, paint, stain or any other kind of product that could potentially soak into the wood :lol: :lol:

Lots of posts on finishing on the forum if you do a search, do a bit of experimenting yourself with different techniques to find out which works best for you, its mainly about using a font or fonts that are readable & using contrast between the text/graphic & the background.

Michael, is there not another bit to that Letter Visibility Chart ? The one I have starts at 1" :lol: :lol:
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Re: How to make signs more readable

Postby jerry carney » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:22 pm

I don't make big signs, but I always paint my base color then put contact paper down and v carve my letters. Then color the letters with ou :D t having to be so careful. Works for me. :D :D
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Re: How to make signs more readable

Postby Rubiconlwb » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:16 pm

These are all great suggestions and will give me a good start (I really like the contact paper idea). I will also do more research, both through videos and looking at the forum. My intent is to make small signs since my CNC has a small working table (12" X 24"). I intend to make signs that people will hang on their walls, doors, etc. Thanks again for you suggestions and patience with a newbie such as myself. Have a great weekend!
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Re: How to make signs more readable

Postby rgerding » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:49 pm

I have been using FixitMike’s method for a couple of years with much success. I looked everywhere with the same question that you have before coming across this method. Good luck with your painting.
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