How to Make Large Wood Letters Using a Router

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Cut out large letters with a hand router.
Cut out large letters with a hand router. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

To make accurate reproductions of letters using a router, you must first make templates. Routers can be used freehand to cut letters, but without templates letters will look irregular and you run the risk of kickback. By making templates you can produce letters to exacting dimensions, over and over. Hang the templates on the wall and use them anytime you want to route out letters for a sign or anywhere you need to place wording.

Things You'll Need

  • Hardboard, 1/4-by-48-by-96 inches
  • 3/8-inch drill bit
  • Cordless drill
  • Jigsaw
  • File
  • 1/32-inch drill bit
  • 3/4-inch plywood
  • 3/4-inch brads
  • Hammer
  • 3/8-inch cutter bit
  • Router
  • 1/4-inch router bushing
  • 1/4-inch screws
  • Phillips screwdriver

Draw out the letters on the sheet of hardboard. Drill a 3/8-inch hole through each letter with a cordless drill. Insert the blade of a jigsaw through each letter. Cut out the letter and discard it; you will be using the opening that the letters came from as the template.

File and smooth the inside perimeter of the letters. Cut the individual letters from the sheet of hardboard with the jigsaw, leaving at least 2 inches on all sides. Using a 1/32-inch drill bit and cordless drill, drill one hole through the top of the template and one through the bottom.

Lay one of the templates down on a piece of 3/4-inch plywood. Insert a 3/4-inch brad into each hole. Tap the brads down with a hammer, securing the template to the plywood.

Insert a 3/8-inch cutter bit into the router. Place a 1/4-inch bushing into the router base. Use a Phillips screwdriver and two 1/4-inch screws to secure the bushing to the base. The bit should extend out the bottom of the bushing 3/4 inch.

Grab the router with both hands. Position it directly above the template. Pull the trigger to turn on the router. Lower the cutter bit into the template, allowing the bit to burrow down into the plywood. When the router base is flat against the template, begin sliding the router along the inside perimeter of the template. The bushing will guide the cutter as it cuts the letter out. When the letter comes loose, lift the router out and release the trigger.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the router is hard to push, try making several passes when cutting the letters out. Start out shallow, and then cut deeper to make the router easier to handle.
  • Wear safety glasses. Keep both hands on the router at all times to avoid kickback.
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