Growing up, my grandparents had a sign on the gate at the end of their driveway that identified their property. This was something I always thought was really cool, and so inspired by that I wanted to make a family sign for my sister & brother-in law for Christmas this year.

Difficulty moderate


Other Tools

  • Miter Saw
    Miter Saw
  • Tape Measure
    Tape Measure
  • Router
  • Guide Bushing Adaptor
    Guide Bushing Adaptor
  • Sander
  • Workbench


Wood Products

  • 1 Oak project board , 3/4" Thick , 36"

Hardware & Supplies

  • 1 Stain
  • 1 Paint
  • 1 Clear coat

Cut List & Parts

  • 1 Sign , 3/4" x 5 1/2" x 24 1/2"


  • Cut lumber to size

    To complete this step, I laid out the signmaking template across my board to see how long the name was, in this case "Alexanders" wound up being 24.5". I marked it off, then cut my 36" project board to length.

  • Rout the letters

    First off, I set up the template. The box shows the template guides attached with blue painter's tape on the top and bottom, but I found my router edge catches on the tape this way. What works better is double sided carpet tape, strategically placed on the first and last guides, and on some of the single-pass letters that I know aren't going to be moving during the routing process.

    Once the templates were secured, I used my router (with guide bushing adaptor) to rout the shapes of the letters in the template. After the first pass, I swapped out the two stage letters and finished the letters.

  • Rout the edge

    To give it a more finished look, I also hit the edges of the board with a decorative roman ogee router bit. It helped the piece look more complete.

  • Sand the piece

    Once the letters were there, I sanded everything to smooth it out. I started with a lower grit sandpaper and worked up to 400 grit to give it a superfine finish.

  • Stain the sign

    I hit this project with a golden mahogany varthane--I liked how it warmed up the piece and made the grain stand out.

  • Paint the piece

    Once the stain dried, my wife did some hand painted elements on the sign, including filling in the letters to make them pop more against the wood.

  • Apply clearcoat

    Finally, I went over the finished product with an acrylic clearcoat to finish off the project and protect the finishes.