How to Carve a Wooden Sign with a Dremel

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You all know how much I love my DIY woodworking projects.  One project I’d always wanted to try?  Making an engraved wooden sign!  Want to know how to make a sign using a Dremel?   Keep on reading!

How to Make a Sign with a Dremel

If you’ve never engraved a wooden sign before, it can be kind of intimidating.  I’m gonna break this down step-by-step so that you can follow along.  I promise this is a super beginner-friendly project that anyone can do.  

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First thing you’ll need?  Your materials!

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

For this project, you’re going to want to gather the following supplies, which are linked with affiliate links:

  • A Dremel rotary tool: I used a Dremel 100, which had the perfect amount of power for this job!
  • Engraving tips: Dremel tips are affordable, which is awesome for trying out different kinds of projects.  I purchased a cool little pack of carving and engraving tips online, which was super cost-efficient.
  • A sign template: I created this template (using the steps shown below), but you could easily find a premade template you like and print it for free online.  Or make one yourself!  Keep on reading to learn how!
  • Fine grit sanding paper: I used 150 grit.
  • Finishing stain or paint: To finish this sign, I decided to stain it.  For a while, I’d debated painting it blue and white, but in the end, I wanted it to have a more rustic and muted look.  How you finish the sign is totally up to you!  I used Minwax Provincial stain.  My fave!

wood sign carving dremel

 

Step 2:  Create Your Template

To create the template to make my engraved wooden sign, I first found a vintage monogram vector I liked.  This vector file came from freepik.com, a site that has a lot of awesome design elements and graphic resources.   

Update for 2021: Y’all, I’ve since launched a free resource of design files you can use right here.  Creating these design files was seriously how I stayed sane in 2020, so have fun!  Enjoy!

I downloaded the monogram, then opened the file up in PowerPoint.  

Yes, PowerPoint!  You could easily do this step with a more robust graphic design software (like Adobe Illustrator), but I find that PowerPoint gets the job done super quickly.  

First, you’ll want to set the dimensions of your sign so that when you print your template it fits well.  My sign was 10 inches by 7 inches.  You can set the dimensions on the design tab by clicking “Page setup.”  Easy!

For my template, I used two different monograms, including the “M” monogram and the bottom swirly bit of the “D” monogram.  I copied the image so that it was duplicated, then cropped the images so I had just the parts I wanted.  

Then, under the picture format tab, I set black as a transparent color and changed the rest of the colors to grey so that I could see the template more easily.  I added a text box with the family name, then printed it!  Seriously simple.  In about 10 minutes, I had the perfect template for my custom engraved wooden sign.

wood carving dremel

Engraved Wooden Sign

Engraved Wooden Sign

Engraved Wooden Sign

Step 3: Affix Your Template

Alright, in this step I’m going to tell you what NOT to do!  (Hint: don’t do what I did.)  

I put the template on my wooden sign, then traced the image pressing down hard so that I left a visible dent in the wood.  Coincidentally, this technique is perfect for other woodworking projects, like painting signs or wood burning.  

…And, hey, in the end, this technique worked okay for this project.  I ended up outlining in pencil a few places were the little indentations in the wood were a little harder to see.

But after I spent an hour tracing my outline onto the wooden sign, I discovered a much easier way.  

I could have printed my template, sprayed hairspray on the back, stuck it onto my wooden sign, and carved through the template.  Then, once I finished making the engraved wooden sign, I could have wiped away any of the template still stuck to the wood.  

Um, how much easier does that sound?  Yeah, live and learn.

dremel wood carving

 

Step 4: Crack Out Your Dremel and Start Carving!

Here’s where the fun part begins!  Firing up the Dremel!  I first used a very fine engraving tip to outline the template.  About five minutes into the project, I’m not going to lie, I started wondering why exactly I picked such a complicated monogram to use.  

I mean, *look* at all those little frills and flourishes!

After I traced the design with a smaller engraving tip, I switched to a larger tip to begin carving.  I found that larger engraving tips are much easier to use.  The larger tip glides more smoothly across the wood grain, and it’s much easier to carve with a consistent depth.

Want some beginner-friendly pointers?

  •  Go slowly when carving your engraved wooden sign.  If you rush, you end up making funny little divets in the wood.  And, guys, funny divets are not cute. Go slow, take your time, and enjoy the process!
  • Experiment with different tips, trying larger and smaller engraving and carving tips to get the effect you want.
  • Use a light hand… and when I say light, I mean very light hand!  The last thing you want is to push down too hard and end up with an indelible mark in your wood.
  • Choose an easy template to begin with.  The one I used?  Beautiful!  But easy?  Um… not so much.  (Although I LOVE how the project turned out!)
  • Play with the carving tips to smooth out lumps and bumps caused by the engraving tips.
  • When in doubt, walk away and come back to your project.  This ended up taking me two days, about six hours total across both days.  If I tried to fit the entire project into one day, I think I would have grown impatient with the process.

dremel wood carving

 

dremel wood carving

 

Step 5: Sand and Stain …and Enjoy!

Once I’d finished carving my engraved wooden sign, I used a fine sanding paper to smooth away any of the rough edges from my Dremel carving tool.  I gave the piece a light sanding, focusing on the edges of the carving that needed a little smoothing.

After that, I finished the sign with my favorite stain: Minwax provincial!  

Okay, let’s be honest, my husband did this part since I’m way too pregnant to be using traditional stains.  And while I’ve played with other pregnancy-safe stains and have enjoyed using them (like coffee!), I wanted to finish this piece with Minwax provincial.  I LOVE how it turned out!  Do you?

dremel wood carving

dremel wood carving

dremel wood carving

dremel wood carving

dremel wood carving

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Also, if you have any other ideas for wood carving projects, be sure to leave a comment below or pop a note on Instagram.  I am officially hooked on wood carving!  And if you’re loving this post, be sure to share it with your peeps.

Lots of love, from my house to yours,

Cynthia

Have you ever wanted to get into woodworking or wood carving? Using a dremel is such a beginner friendly way to try it out! Follow this fun, beginner friendly step by step DIY tutorial to learn all about how to use a Dremel to carve a wood sign. In this project, we'll show you how to carve a sign with a monogram and last name. Enjoy!

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4 thoughts on “How to Carve a Wooden Sign with a Dremel”

  1. Pingback: Berita : Cara Mengukir Kayu dengan Alat Ukir Dremel

  2. Michelle Silveira

    I LOVED the way ur wood carved monogram sign came out. I would love to do one myself but with my youngest sons name to display with all the pictures and momentos that I treasure most since that is all I have to look at every day. I lost my son 4 yrs ago just a month and a half of him turning 18. It is a the worst thing that a parent could go through and has left such a huge hole in mine and my families heart and lives. People keep saying it will get easier as time goes by but those are coming from people that haven’t had to experience or go through such devastation. It’s been almost 4 yrs coming up on 12/13 and still think he is going to come walking through my door yelling out ” hey mom where are you”. Well what I wanted to ask you was before I started rambling on (and I apologize for that) was is there a better type of wood that works better for wood carving and engraving than others and if so what wood would you recommend ?
    Thank You so much
    Michelle Silveira

  3. Pingback: Wood Carving Ideas With Dremel - The Woodwork Zone

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