Rockler’s Signmaker’s Interlock Templates provide a kit of letters that allow you to rout through the template and into the stock below. The letters assemble like a jig saw puzzle and are then taped to your work. When I first saw this demonstrated I was amazed by the simplicity of the system and wondered if it worked, or was too good to be true. Let’s check it out.
Getting started is dirt simple. Grab the router letter templates you need out of the kit and start snapping them together to spell the word. Rockler’s router letter templates provide a very unique lettering function called kerning. Kerning allows letters, where appropriate, to nest into each other. Here’s an example: PA versus P A. In the first case notice how the leg of the A tucks under the loop in the P. When kerning is used the lettering is much less blocky, and lots more attractive.
How do you figure out this kerning business? Easy peezy. Go to the Sign Making Wizard on the Rockler web site and type in your word. It’ll provide a road map, similar to the print out shown in the photo, of how to set up your sign using the kerning spacers included with the kit.
Rout the First Pass
Using a plunge router equipped with a guide bushing (bushing included with the kit) rout the first pass. Yes, the masking tape held the router letter templates in place just fine.
Rout the Second Pass
Following the kerning instructions, swap router letter templates where needed and rout the second pass. Even if you’re not kerning you’ll probably have to make more than one pass. Any letter or number with a “hole,” O, P, D, 6, 8…. is done in two passes.
Rout the Third Pass
The lower sign was kerned, the upper sign was not. You can, obviously, skip the kerning if you’re okay with how the sign will look without it.
I really like the two-pass letters this kit provides, like this R. On some sign making kits, letters with a loop are made with a single template by leaving the loop open someplace. The result can be letters that you have to look at a little in order to figure out what they are. These templates provide a much more professional appearance.
I like this kit a lot. It’s easy to use and I love the look kerning provides. Masking tape worked fine to hold the letters in place, even on the rough cedar used for the sign shown here.
Because of the ease of fastening the templates (no clamps involved) the sign templates can be positioned anywhere on any piece, even smack in the middle of a large panel. Something you couldn’t do with templates that require clamps to hold them in place.
A short trip to the Rockler web site to take advantage of their Sign Making Wizard is worth it. It provides the precise info you need in the shop to make sure the sign making goes great, and looks great. The instructions resulting from the Wizard are very easy to follow. Unfortunately The Wizard is limited to 20 characters. I’d like to see Rockler expand this.
You’ve got to do this work with a plunge router. Even better, a plunge router with dust collection. You’re going to make a lot of sawdust.
As of this writing the kits are available in 2-1/4” and 3-1/8”. That’s the actual letter size, not the template size. Capital letters only. Letters interlock for horizontal signs only, not vertical. There are a total of 99 letters, numbers and symbols in each kit. Check the web site (below) for a detailed list of included characters. You can get individual templates in case you need more of a particular letter, or manage to cut into one.
Rockler’s Signmaker’s Template-State Park Font
2-1/4” #48356 $49.99
3-3/8” #43820 $79.99
Never to old to learn?
Are interlocking vertical letters available? How about cursive letter kits
Hi Joe. I’m not aware that they are, but you’re probably best to contact Rockler with this question.
Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America
Have both sizes of the “State Park” templates plus the “Comic Sans” kits. They work great, just have to take it slow and have dust collection handy. It does require several passes sometimes. To use the Wizard for longer signs simply make two or more entries.