How to Write and Carve Into Wood

By Robert Kingsley

Writing into, or engraving, a board seems like a simple concept, but precisely removing stock to leave behind an intricate pattern, such as lettering, can be difficult. You'll need to ensure that you have the proper tools to complete the job to increase your chances of success. If you take your time, and work from a pattern, you'll very likely be pleased with the outcome of your endeavor.

List of Items Needed

  • Rotary tool
  • Engraving accessory
  • Woodcarving gouges
  • Wood
  • Transfer paper
  1. Decide on a pattern that you want to use and plan it out before you even find wood. Use a word processor to make the job simple. Select a font you like, increase the font size to reflect your targeted sizing and decide on a layout for your lettering. Print the finished product.

  2. Find a soft piece of wood such as pine, cedar or spruce. If you aren't sure what type of wood you have on hand, simply attempt to dig your fingernail into the surface. If you can leave a dent, you have a soft-enough wood for easy engraving. If you can't, keep looking.

  3. Cut the wood to the finished size you want for your project. Route the edges if you like for a decorative touch. Sand the carving surface to ensure you have a clean and defect-free work area.

  4. Place your transfer paper over your board and place your pattern over the paper. Tape both down to ensure they don't move while you trace. Use a pencil to trace around the outer edge of the letters of your template. The transfer paper will print your text on the wood's surface in blue. Discard the transfer paper after you finish.

  5. Clamp your work piece to a table. Use a handheld rotary tool with an engraving accessory to cut out the lettering you transferred to the wood's surface. Work slowly to minimize mistakes. Take shallow cuts and gradually work down to the depth you want. If you don't have a rotary tool on hand, use woodcarving gouges instead. Again, work slowly and carefully to avoid mistakes.

  6. Sand your finished product to remove any blue lines that are left over. Paint or stain the project any way you desire.

Tips and Warnings

  • Use bold fonts on your template to create thicker letters. These will be easier to carve. Avoid fonts with serifs and other embellishments if you are new to carving.
  • Wear protective eye gear when operating power tools.

© Demand Media 2011