Wooden signs are used everywhere, especially in home décor. Many families like to hang the first letter of their last name, or their full last name, up on the wall as the centerpiece to a photo gallery wall.
While these wooden signs can be expensive to purchase online, they can be made right at home right the right tools.
So, what are the best machines that cut wood letters? The best machines that cut wood letters are a CNC router, compact router, scroll saw, band saw, jig saw, laser cutter, and the Cricut Explore.
When it comes to woodworking, there are a lot of options to get the job done. In this article, we’ll explore all your options for cutting wood letters, including the best qualities to look for in a wood cutting machine and a list of recommended products.
Types Of Machines For Wood Cutting
There are several different types of machines that can be used for wood cutting, so it’s best to explore how each one differs before choosing the right one for you.
For routers, we recommend either a CNC router or a compact router. The CNC router is the better choice here, simply because it’s run by a computer. CNC stands for computer numerical control.
There’s no worry about human shakiness or mistakes when a computer is guiding the cuts. You can simply program in the design and allow the machine to take care of everything for you.
However, if you’re looking for a cheaper router option, then a compact router can do a great job, too. Compact routers or palm routers are often already used and lying around a woodworker’s space. The easy access makes compact routers an easier option.
With a compact router, though, your hand is guiding the movement. Your own steadiness will determine how smoothly the router cuts through the wood, and whether or not you have some shaky edges.
Even if you do end up with some shaky edges, you can always smooth them out with another pass or with some sand paper. If you value precision, choose the CNC router. If you value the cost-effectiveness of your choice, go with the compact router.
In the world of saws, you have a few more options: scroll saw, band saw, and jig saw. The scroll saw is the one we recommend the most if you want to go for a saw over a router or other machine.
Scroll saws are designed to make small, precise cuts. They come with a tiny blade intended to get the tiniest details into the wood.
You’ll still have to move the wood yourself to get the design cut into the wood, but as long as you move slowly and carefully as you always would when working with a power tool, you’ll do great.
The next option is a band saw. This works similarly to a scroll saw, but is a bigger machine with a slightly bigger blade. It has a similar set-up with a small workspace to lay your wood on and move the wood around to cut it into the blade.
A band saw is a little too big and heavy duty for a small wood letter, but if you already have one at home and you’re not looking to shop for another power tool right now, it’ll do great.
For both scroll saws and band saws, one thing to consider is their inability to cut in the middle of wood.
They’ll do great for cutting out the general area of lettering, but if you have a letter that has an empty space in the middle like an “O,” you’ll need to use another tool like a router to finish the job.
With a scroll saw, you can try and cut the middles of the letters out by taking out the blade, laying your wood down, and placing it back, but this can become tedious over time.
The final saw option is the jig saw. While this isn’t our top recommendation, it can do in a pinch if it’s all you have in your garage or woodworking shed.
A jig saw will require a much steadier hand as you guide it around the wood. Rather than moving the wood around the blade like the scroll saw and band saw, you’ll need to move the jig saw around the wood.
This can lead to some possible rough cuts just like the compact router above, but it’s still an option for those who don’t mind their wood letters a little rough around the edges. You can always clean it up at the end with the right sandpaper and a good finish.
Another option if you don’t want to worry about a saw or router is to use a laser cutter. A laser cutter cuts the wood using heat from a laser, rather than using a sharp blade to slice through the wood.
One upside to the laser cutter is that it’s also a laser engraver, so you can cut out a wood letter and then engrave a design on the front of it.
A downside is that the wood will have a little burnt or scorched look. Especially if you’re working with lighter wood, you’ll see some darkness around the edges.
The discoloration of the wood isn’t a deal breaker if you plan to stain the wood anyway, but it’s something to consider when choosing the best machine for the job.
Our final recommendation for the best machine to cut wood letters is a Cricut Explore. Cricut machines are often associated with vinyl decals that are applied to cups, shirts, bags, and more.
However, Cricut is a versatile company, with different machines for different jobs. The Cricut Explore is their craft cutting machine, designed to cut over 100 different materials.
The most commonly used materials with the Cricut Explore are paper, vinyl, cardstock, and cork, but you can also use wood. If you plan to cut wood with a Cricut Explore, we recommend using very thin pieces of wood.
The Cricut isn’t big enough or designed to handle a thick piece of wood, so it’s best to stick with wood about 1/16” thick. This is more for lettering that can be mounted on a backboard of another material, like a plank of wood or a sheet of metal.
The Best Qualities In Machines For Wood Cutting
Now that we’ve explored the machines, let’s review the best qualities that you want to look for in whatever machine you choose.
Whether saw or router, laser cutter or Cricut, you’ll want to ensure that your machine for wood cutting has the following three qualities.
The best machines for cutting wood are highly durable. This means not only that they’re built strong enough to handle the wood, but that they last for a long time.
There are several types of wood out there to work with for woodworking projects, and they all have their own distinct qualities.
One characteristic of wood that varies from tree to tree is the hardness. Some woods are very soft and pliable, while others are very hard and dense.
This means that your machine for cutting wood letters needs to be able to handle whatever type of wood you’re using – whether it’s an easy, sliding cut or one that takes a little more elbow grease.
It should also be built to last. The types of machines on this list are not intended for short-term use. They’re machines that should be maintained and used for years to come.
If your band saw stops working after just a couple months of use, then you likely got a poor quality version from an unreliable company.
When it comes to power tools and machinery like this, we recommend going with a brand that has a good reputation and is used by a large amount of people.
Even though that off-brand jig saw with only 2 reviews may be cheaper, it might cost you more in the long run if it breaks down after just a few uses.
The intention of cutting wood letters is to have clean, legible letters out of wood. This design can lose its pleasing aesthetics pretty quickly if the machine you’re using makes jagged, rough cuts that need hours of sanding to correct.
It’s important to use a machine that will make clean cuts in your wood, such as the tools we recommended on this list. Blades don’t stay sharp forever, so it’s a good idea to routinely monitor the sharpness of your blades.
If you’ve been using the same blade on your scroll saw for a year, it may be time to change it out to something a little sharper for smoother cuts.
Before each project, it can be a good idea to run a test piece of wood through your machine. This can help you gauge whether it’s time to switch out the blade, or you’re still good to go for a few more project.
Another vital quality for your machine for cutting wood letters is precision. A letter isn’t legible unless it’s been cut precisely. If you plan to cut a whole name or phrase, it won’t be legible unless it’s been cut precisely.
Precision in your wood cutting is what sets it apart as being high-quality, handmade wood work. A “Q” can start to look like an “O” if it hasn’t been cut precisely.
Of course, the computer operated tools – CNC router, laser cutter, and Cricut Explore – are going to be your best bet for precision. These are operated electronically, not by your hand. So you can rest assured that each cut will be made with delicate precision.
If you’re going for a hand-operated machine, then a scroll saw will give you the most precision. It has a tiny blade for this exact purpose, and a nice workspace to freely and gently move the wood.
A band saw will do great too, but it’s a little bigger and the blade may be too big for the purpose of precision cutting. The compact router and jig saw will both do just fine, but their precision will rely heavily on how smoothly you move the machine around the wood.
The Best Machines That Cut Wood Letters
With the information about the different types of machines and the best qualities to look for, it’s time to make your choice.
Below are our top recommendations of machines to use to cut wood letters.
|1.||SainSmart Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit||CNC router, good precision, clean cuts, computer controlled|
|2.||Makita RT0701C HP Compact Router||Compact router, can give clean cuts, requires a steady hand for precision|
|3.||WEN 3923 Variable Speed Scroll Saw||Scroll saw, small blade for high precision, clean cuts, provides solid working surface|
|4.||Grizzly Industrial G0803Z - Benchtop Bandsaw||Band saw, small blade for high precision, clean cuts, provides solid working surface|
|5.||DEWALT Jig Saw||Jig saw, can give clean cuts, requires a steady hand for precision|
|6.||xTool D1 Rotary Higher Accuracy Laser Engraver||Laser cutter, works best on thin wood, high precision, clean cuts|
|7.||Cricut Explore Air 2||Cricut Explore, works best on thin wood, high precision, clean cuts|
1. SainSmart Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit
Your first option for tools to cut wood letters is the CNC router.
As we mentioned above, the CNC router has a high level of precision thanks to its computer-operated system. It also makes clean cuts with its sharp blade, saving you time on sanding.
This SainSmart Genmitsu CNC router is a great choice for those looking for this type of machine. It has over 1,000 ratings and reviews with an average of 4 stars.
Not only can this machine cut wood, but it can also cut through metal, plastics, PVCs, and other materials. The variety of materials that can run through this machine add versatility to the list of attributes.
If you’re looking for the machine that’s going to give you the most bang for your buck with cutting out wood letters and other intricate designs, then the CNC router is the best choice for you.
2. Makita RT0701C HP Compact Router
Your other router option is the compact router. This Makita compact router is a smaller tool, made for using handheld or with a fixed base that keeps it in one place on a work table.
The nice thing about the Makita compact router is its easy maneuverability. You can move it anywhere you want while using it free, so you can always make sure you get the outside border and any inner empty spaces of the letters.
You can also use this Makita compact router with a fixed-base, if you choose that option. This means that the router stays in place while you maneuver the wood around the blade.
Whether you use it freely or with a fixed-base is up to you.
This Makita compact router also has over 6,000 reviews with an average 5 star rating, so you know you’re getting a good quality machine.
3. WEN 3923 Variable Speed Scroll Saw
We love the WEN scroll saw for multiple reasons.
First of all, it has a variable speed control, so you can choose how fast or slow you want the saw blade to be moving. This can help you maintain more control as you move the wood around the blade while cutting.
It also has easy-access blade changes, so if you want to use a scroll saw on its own, you can quickly remove the blade, position your wood, and replace the blade to cut the middle parts of the letters.
This scroll saw also comes with a flexible work light, so you always have a light shining to help you see what you’re doing.
Although you won’t get the same precision you would with a computer-operated machine, a scroll saw can still give you a high level of precision while also being a versatile new machine in your woodworking studio.
4. Grizzly Industrial G0803Z – Benchtop Bandsaw
If you’re more in the market for the larger-scale band saw, look no further than this 9” Benchtop Bandsaw from Grizzly Industrial.
This band saw is built to last, with a large and sturdy set up. Set it on top of your workbench and glide your wood block around the blade with ease to cut out your wood letters.
The blade is 9 inches long, so you can cut wood as thick or thin as you need.
It also comes with an attached working light on a flexible arm for you to keep a sharp eye on your work, as well as a laser guide to help you make precise lines by hand.
For the price, this band saw is a great deal, and would make a great addition to a woodworker’s tools for making wood letters and other types of special wooden designs.
5. DEWALT Jig Saw
The DEWALT Jig Saw with a top handle is a great choice for those looking to cut wood letters for a lower price tag.
DEWALT is a well-known and trusted brand for power tools, so you know you’ll be getting your money’s worth with this durable machine.
A jig saw can be helpful in nearly any woodworking project, so not only will this come in handy for cutting wood letters, but you’ll also be able to use it for other projects, too.
It comes with a variable speed trigger on the handle, so you can adjust the speed to whatever you feel comfortable with while working.
It also has a 4-position orbital action system for getting precisely the right angle every time.
6. xTool D1 Rotary Higher Accuracy Laser Engraver
The xTool D1 Laser Engraver and Laser Cutter Machine is a good choice for those looking to trade in the blade for a heated laser.
This machine is dual purpose, since not only can you cut out wood letters, but you can even engrave something on the front.
A good project this might be helpful for is the first letter of the last name, with a couple’s first names and wedding date engraved on the front.
You can also do a child’s first initial with their birth date, birth weight, and birth length on the front for a sweet gift for a new mom.
With a combination laser cutter and laser engraver, you have plenty of possibilities. Just don’t forget to factor in staining to hide any unwanted discoloration from the heat.
7. Cricut Explore Air 2
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a fantastic Cricut model, ready to cut through more than 100 different materials.
Since it’s still a Cricut machine, it’s really designed for thinner materials. To cut wood letters, you’ll need to use a thin, soft wood, such as a sheet of 1/16” thick balsa wood.
You can then mount the wood letters on a wooden or metal backing to give your wooden sign a fresh look.
Even though it’s best to use with just a thin sheet of wood, a Cricut is still a great option for cutting wood letters because it has so much versatility for a crafter!