Carving Letters in Wood With Router

(Last Updated On: January 7, 2021)
Routing letters and words on wood.

Wooden numbers and letters can be cut for making wooden crafts; you can create a home sign from a plain piece of wood. You can add a personal touch to a boring wood or chest box by carving letters or design into it. A plunge router enables you to be a master of carving- the fact that you can cut letters and numbers from the edge of a wood material. All you need is a piece of clamp that can help you secure the template as you work on the routs. 

More and more woodworkers across the world find wood routers amazing. It has a multitude of benefits when it comes to working projects associated with wood. Having a wood router in place, no wood project is impossible. 

In detail, wood routers let woodworkers (like you) make beautiful designs and cut wood with ease. In the market today, you can find more than 20 unique router bits. These routers come in various sizes too. Therefore, no wood project is impossible with this abundance of router choices available. So, if you want to create smaller designs like that of tiny pieces of letters and numbers, you need a smaller router. I must say that it is far easier to route designs for whatever purposes if you have appropriate accessories and router bits at hand. 

2 Major Ways of Letter and Number Carving

  • Freehand
  • Templates

How To Router Letters Freehand

Step 1: Have Your Workpiece Marked

To make sure that the letters and numbers are uniformly cut, trace the design with a pencil. You’ll end up with uneven cuts if you undervalue this process. Once you have traced the letters and numbers into your wood piece, it becomes easier for you to space them up. This way, uniform-sized designs are attained. 

Let’s talk about the ideal spacing of characters, folks. Do you know what is the ideal spacing? The answer is 10mm. This is ⅜ inches approximately. However, it depends on the woodworker’s preference and the lettering size. At this point, your challenge is to ascertain that all the characters are not just evenly-sized by also aligned. That being said, grab a guide across the work piece’s bottom. 

Step 2: Set up Your Router 

First, set the guide bush into the base of the base plate or to the router base. Next, fix the cutter into the router’s collet. Then, change the cutter’s height. This allows you to match the thickness of the design that you look forward to rout. It is recommended to use a router at 2-3mm. Or 1/16 to 3/32 inches depth. This is advisable for most lettering or routing applications.

Choosing the right size for a router is not a joke. Bear in mind that no single kind of router can work an excellent job on all routing projects. As an old saying goes, “No one size fits all”. There is always a specific type of router for every letter routing project. Therefore, decide the size of your design before starting anything. As a woodworker, you must know your preference as to the design and size. 

Step 3: Position the Router Properly & Start Routing

Before you begin routing, it is important to make sure that the guide bush perfectly fits into the first hole you look forward to routing or cutting. So, position the router on the guide. Right after doing such, go ahead and turn the router on. This time, you are more than ready to plunge the aforementioned cutting tool into the wood’s surface. To do so, hit the plunge lock. At this point, turn the router around every character’s side in a clockwise direction. This ascertains that the routing guide always touches the template’s inside edge. 

Step 4: Give the Character A Seamless Finish

When you have routed your design, you may turn off the router. This time, pour a little patience as you wait for the bit to completely stop. Before releasing the plunge locking button, take off the routing tool from the wood material. 

Step 5: Clean the Routed Characters

As you can see, routing letters or numbers can pile up dust around your work area. The routed letters and numbers have dusts on them too. So, get rid of these dusts by using a clean piece of cloth. Make sure that all the routed characters are free from any trace of projectile and dust that are accrued from routing. 

Step 6: Finishing

Right after checking that you have completed routing your desired design, turn the router off and set it aside. Now, lose its clamps a little and take out the template and guide batten. This is to expose your masterpiece. 


How To Route Letters & Numbers With Templates

Step 1: Select A Template To Be Used 

The secret to a successful woodworking project is the accuracy of your selection for a cutter and guide bush size. The router’s size must perfectly suit the template that you plan to use for your project. If you want to go for the simplest option, purchase a bush pack or cutter that works best for your chosen template. In detail, grab an 8-mm: bush pack or a 5/26-inch straight letter and number cutter. Never forget to get a 13 mm.-template guide bush too. The latter routing piece or accessory perfectly works with a standard set of templates (letters and numbers). 

Step 2: Clamp The Template

Do you have your clamps ready as of the moment? All you need to do is fasten your chosen routing template to the router. At this point, you need to determine where to position the routing clamps. See to it that the clamps have no way to impede the router’s path during letter routing. 

Step 3 – Set & Adjust The template.

As you use your chosen cutting template, you should butt it up flawlessly against the routing guide batten. Simply hold up the clamps in place. Then, glide it smoothly along with the succeeding characters. Keep an eye on the pencil markings at all times. Lastly, adjust the tightness of these clamps. If it needs to be re-tightened, please do so. This time, switch the router on and cut ceaselessly. 


Additional Tips 

All Letters Should Follow The Same Process 

Are you planning to create more numbers or letters using a plunge router? No problem. All you need to do is get your workpiece ready. Adjust the tightness of the clamp right before routing a new character (a number or a letter). Once a character is routed, take the clamp off the workpiece and position the succeeding character below the routing tool. Let me say it again, folks. Adjust the clamps before routing. 

Remember the Routing Direction

Rout around the letter or character in a clockwise direction. There are circumstances when you need to get down to large routing tasks. In this case, taking regular breaks helps. See to it that the routing guide bush is not loosened. It affects its routing performance, I tell you. Also, you must blow off the waste materials like dusts in between characters. Use a soft brush or a hand-held blower to get rid of any routing debris. Don’t let the latter misshape the routing template. You won’t like the project’s output if you fail to. 

Few Preventive Measures

On a final note, routing is a process that needs no hurry. This can be detrimental to the quality of your routing. When routing, make it a habit to put on protective gear. Grab your protective boots and safety goggles ready to protect yourself from getting harmed. Focus on the temperature of the plunge router that you are holding. Don’t let it get too hot as you rout. 

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