The sign needed words. Words need letters. Making letters accurately is hard… especially when you don’t realised you’re using broken tools. Things didn’t go well.
In part 1 you were able to read how my mom wanted a backyard sign for our dog and how we mocked up an example image for me to work from, and in part 2 you were able to read how I made the base shape of the sign from old pallet wood.
The next step was to make the words that were meant to go on the sign – “Bindy’s Place”. I started by opening Inkscape and writing the text with a font we both liked. We didn’t like how some of the letters were a bit hard to read, though, so I converted the text into a series of paths so I could tweak each letter individually to keep most of the flair of the font, but make it a little bit easier to read.
The idea I had was to actually make the letters out of thin wood, and then glue that onto the sign. I’d bought a very affordable 66cm x 122cm sheet of weather-resistant treated wood and planned to use my scroll saw to cut out the individual letters.
At the time, I didn’t know that my scroll saw was busted.
Unaware of the problems I’d soon face, I pushed forward.
I printed the text onto an A4 sheet of paper, and took the better part of an entire afternoon to cut out all of the paper letters by hand. This turned out to be really difficult for me for a few reasons. As many of you know, I have issues with my joints, and my back. So sitting bent down for hours trying to keep holding my discount-brand x-acto was quite painful.
I then had a stencil that allowed me to transfer the letters onto the wood. I taped the paper stencil onto an appropriately-sized piece of a wood sheet, and traced the letters as accurately as I could with a pencil.
Pretty cool! With that I was able to begin cutting out individual letters on my scroll saw. The first results were pretty rough, but I was encouraged by the idea that I could use my multitool to help tweak the rough edges and get a smooth, neat result:
Of course, that’s when I realised that the reason all of these were so rough wasn’t just that I was new at this (which was part of the reason, but not the entire reason)… but my scroll saw was, in fact, kaput. I was still within the warranty period for the scroll saw, so as much as I hated to lose it… I packed it back up and shipped it back. I got my money back soon after.
I didn’t really know what to do about this project at that point. It took a while for me to be willing to change my original plans, and it was hard for me to do that. I’d already spent a lot of time on it, though, and I wasn’t willing to give up on the project just because one thing went wrong.
If you’ve followed along with my past posts, you’ll already know what I did instead: using the refund from the faulty scroll saw, and a donation by my dad, I bought an automated cutter, specifically a Silhouete Cameo 3. If you’re not familiar with these things, I suggest you read that post to get an overview of the device.
So here’s how the plan changed at this point: instead of cutting out the letters out of a wood sheet using a scroll saw, I would create a vinyl stencil using my new Silhouette Cameo 3, and paint the letters on instead.
Luckily, the Silhouette Studio software is pretty easy to use. I couldn’t import the Inkscape vector directly into Silhouette Studio with my free version of the software (it requires the paid, professional version) but it’s incredibly easy to work around that. I was able to export a copy of my “Bindy’s Place” text from Inkscape as a regular high-resolution image, which I then imported into Silhouette Studio, and used the built-in trace function to turn the imported image back into a path.
I was then able to let the Silhouette Cameo cut the entire font into a vinyl sheet. It took about 3 minutes to do what previously took me an entire afternoon – and with none of the pain…
Well, almost none. I stil had to do the weeding. The Silhouette Cameo can do the cutting, but since it’s vinyl on an adhesive backing, the letters won’t disappear by themselves. It’s a bit of a finicky task, but it was still much faster and easier, and infinitely more precise, than doing the cutting by hand.
Here’s the result with all the letters removed:
With this, I finally had the letters done. Now they just had to be painted on… which was also an adventure in learning (how not to do things). Stay tuned for that catastrophe. 🙂