Sunday, December 15, 2019

Making a House Number Sign

The sign is out, and swinging in the breeze

In my last post, I did some playing around with a new CNC router that I had purchased recently. As I mentioned in that post, I had a very simple but practical project as my first creation with the router - an address sign for my house.

In the rural area that I live in, the post office delivers the mail to a mailbox that you would install at the end of your driveway.

While it is usually pretty easy to figure out which mailbox belongs to which house, the post office has a requirement that you post either your name or your house number on your mailbox.

I suppose this makes sense since while I have had the same postal carrier delivering my mail for a few years now and they are pretty familiar with me and where I live, when it happens that I have someone new delivering the mail, I can see where they may have trouble if the boxes were not marked.

Most people simply run down to the local hardware store and buy some stick-on letters for their mailboxes,, on the other hand, I did want to have something a bit more unique for my mailbox.

In my post about the 3018 CNC router, I designed my sign using some software to convert everything into a g-code program which my router then used to engrave my house number onto a piece of plywood.

While the router did a great job in producing my house number, I still needed to do a wee bit more to make it truly stand out.

Numbers cut out with the router

To start, the numbers of the sign really need to pop out a lot more than it currently does. The easiest way to make the numbers more visible is to paint them with some color (like your basic black) that would make the letters stand out against the neutral background of the plywood. 

To paint the wood I took a small artist's brush and painted in the numbers that were engraved into the wood., When I was painting in the numbers, I didn't really need to be careful, so it was perfectly fine that some of the paint went outside the lines, so some of the areas outside of the numbers also got painted little bit too. 

Painting the numbers

Once I was finished painting the numbers, it didn't really look all that pretty.

It looks a little rough

To clean things up a bit better I took my detail sander with a coarse sanding pad attached and I sanded the top of the plywood around the number until all the excess paint was removed, leaving the engraved numbers looking neat and clearer against the plywood background. 

Sanding off the excess paint

Looks much better

While I could now simply just call the sign good and hang it up, but I did want to add a little extra flair to the sign.

To add that little extra, I decided to make the sign look like a framed picture by taking advantage of some scrap 2X4's that I had laying around.

Not only would making a frame to make my sign look nicer, but the frame will also provide a much more substantial mounting point for the hardware that I would need to hang the sign.

In order to have the sign mount as snugly as possible into the frame, I cut a 3/4 inch wide, 1-inch deep groove along the length of the 2X4's with my router using a 3/4 inch straight bit.

The plan here is to have the plywood fit into the grooves of the plywood frame.

Scrap 2X4

3/4 inch router bit

Adding the groove

2X4 boards with grooves

With the grooves cut into the frame pieces the next step is to build the frame around the plywood sign. 

To start I took one of the 2X4's and made a 45-degree cut along the width of the board such that the groove on the "short" end of the 45-degree angle. 

Ready to build the frame

Cutting the 45 angle angle

I then cut the remaining 2X4's to size by cutting the ends of the boards with 45-degree cuts in the same manner that I made my first cut. 

I cut the boards to length such that the plywood fitted into the slots in the boards and the 45-degree angles on the frame boards met in a nice tight corner.     

Once everything was cut out, I assembled the frame around the sign and secured everything in place with wood glue and 2-inch brad nails.

I clamped everything together and let the glue dry overnight,  

Assembling the frame

Clamping the frame until the glue dried

The next day, with the clamps removed, the sign was complete. 

Sign is built

Before I could put the sign out at the mailbox, I did need to put on a couple coats of spar varnish first. 

Applying varnish

Varnished sign

The final step in the process is to add the hanging hardware to the sign. 

Since this sign does have a bit of weight to it and it does need to survive the elements, the sign will need some fairly robust hardware to hang from. 

For that purpose, I selected a couple of 2 inches long, 3/4 inch diameter eye hooks. 

To determine the location for the eye hooks on the sign I first went out to the mailbox and measured the distance between the mounting points that I will be attaching the sign to. 

From there I subtracted that length from the sign's length and divided that number by 2. 

In order to guarantee that the sign hung in the center, I took that number and measured in from each end of the top of the sign and screwed in the eyebolts in at those locations. 

Get ready to screw in the eye bolts

Measuring the mounting points

Marking the eye bolt positions

Installing eye bolts

Ready to install

Once that was done, I needed to do was just hang the sign. 

All hung up

I am really impressed with how professional a sign looks when you use a CNC router. Since I made this sign I also went ahead and made a For Sale sign for the lawn ornaments that I have out for sale using the exact same techniques. It is certainly giving me the incentive to get more adventurous with my router. 

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