Early craftsmen used hand chisels and gouges to create wooden signs. The process was tedious and a single mistake could wipe out weeks of work. When the power router became popular, the job went faster, but painstaking attention to dimension and detail required the craftsman to design the plan carefully on the wood before cutting. If there was a need for several duplicate signs, then he made a jig, but it was no guarantee the signs would be exact. With the advent of the computer age came CNC routers. The Computer Numerical Control router creates the template. The craftsman can see the final design on the screen. If he likes it, he can make any number of signs, and the sign-making machine does all the work. The laser-cutting sign-making machine allows for a dust-free environment and more intricate designs.
Wood sign-making machines come in a variety of styles. Some connect to your home or office computer. Others have control boxes or hand-held pendants that allow you to get closer to the work and watch as it progresses. The method you use to cut the wood also varies. The laser machine actually vaporizes the wood rather than cutting it. The CNC routers have a programmable arm that directs the router as it carves the sign.
The sign maker creates his design into one of the many CNC programs. You program in not just the shape of the sign and lettering, but also the depth. Intricate pictures cut from wood come from these machines. There are plans that allow you to build your own CNC routers and sign-making machines, or you can purchase one that's complete. Some machines allow you to add your own router. You also can get wood-engraving machines that are complete units with no need for a router
Laser-sign machines operate on the same principal as CNC machines. The difference is the way you remove the wood in the sign-making process. Laser machines turn the wood into a puff of smoke. A constant stream of air blows the smoke away. Since there's no dust, there's no need to wear a mask. The laser machines are more precise and simpler to use, so one man might operate several at the same time.
The home hobbyist who wants a side wood sign-making income should consider the applications and speed necessary before purchasing a machine. The machines vary in price, but high-end models often cost more than $100,000. It takes quite a few signs to offset that amount. There are plans and kits for machines that run about $2,000 to make from start to finish.
Sign-making machines allow quick reproduction of wood signs with minimal expense of precious man hours. Once the program is set, you easily duplicate the wood signs. The multidimensional programs offer a way to create artistic and unique signs and yet, because of the ease of operation and reduction of man hours, keep the price affordable to the consumer without cutting into profits. Wood sign-making machines are a cost effective addition to your business.