Making a Great Trail Sign

Here’s the magic, folks:

  1. Start with 9/8 rough white oak lumber.  Trim it to width.  I like to make several signs of the same width on a plank and cut them into separate signs later.
  2. Plane the back of the sign so it’s flat, but leave the front rough.  If there’s cupping on the board, I’ll plane the convex side (leaving the concave face to become the sign front).
  3. Mark the sign blank ends and the sign middle on one edge of the plank.  Mark the end of one sign, then 1/8″ further along to account for your cutoff saw blade kerf, mark the beginning of the next, and so on.
  4. Mount the board onto the CNC router table with the sign’s center oriented and positioned properly, ensure suitable clamping or vacuum hold down to prevent your work being lifted during milling.
  5. Run the job, routing the cut features and marking where to drill the mounting holes.
  6. Paint the carved sign and let the paint dry completely.  I use flat, no-sheen paint and for simple, unadorned trail signs with either 1/8″ or 5/32″ letter strokes, Rust-Oleum’s primer paint seems to work the best by far.
  7. Now plane the painted front of the sign, scraping away the rough original surface and the unwanted paint, leaving a smooth face with cleanly painted carved features.  Remove as little wood as possible.
  8. Finishing to 1″ thick makes for a good trail sign
  9. Round the corners of the sign with 1/2″ radius, round the edges of the sign with 1/8″ radius, sand all faces and edges.
  10. Drill 3/8″ mounting bolt holes with an auger bit.  The sign will be mounted with 1/4″ stainless bolts and washers, leaving room for movement through the seasons and years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *