What’s The Best Method for Engraving Text on a House Sign?

best written on a sign

With House Signs, most people will decide on their preference for look, feel and cost of the product. Much of this depends on the material types including combination materials; usually stone, wood, metal, plastic (acrylic) and even glass, and the type of engraving equipment used to etch the name or number onto the surface of the material.

The Most Popular Text Engraving Methods

Typically, the most common types of surface engraving methods are laser, milling, sandblasting and hand carving. Each one uses distinct techniques or engraving machinery to produce a custom designed sign.

Text Engraved House Signs using Sandblasting Technology

illustration of sandblasting

One of the most popular methods is Sandblasted engraved text, which can produce highly decorative lettering or design with a smooth finish on materials such as slate, sandstone, marble or Yorkshire stone.

The sandblasting process uses a stencil of the design which is place onto the material to be etched, then, rather than using a type of cutting tool or rotary drill to carve into the stone, the sandblaster fires a mix of highly pressurised air and grains of sand through an airbrush, controlled by hand.

This creates an abrasion onto the smooth surface of the plaque or sign and engraves the design through the stencil. This method is a skilled job completed by hand, often used for other types of engraving such as trophies, memorial plaques and headstones.

Once the surface of the stone or slate has been blasted, the etched lettering can then be filled with epoxy or paint to create a great looking contrast and also add some colour to the sign. This works especially well for logo’s or pictorial additions to the sign.

Text Engraved House Signs using Hands and Manual Tools

illustration of a hand with text hand engraved

One of the most frequent and traditional type of house sign seen, up until more modern methods of etching onto stone were mad popular, was a hand carved wooden sign and hand engraved text.

Although these have been common, they do not wear as well as something like a sandblasted sign, which is far more durable. Typically, a hand carved sign or plaque will be etched or carved using tools such as chisels or rotary cutters, knives or drill bits to mark the shapes into the wood.

Power tools are sometimes used for tougher materials although most wooden signs are made using hand tools. Wooden carving signs are very common, and are usually created by a woodcarver using a stencil or a freehand with a woodcarving knife.

A lathe is often used where the wood is spun fast and detail can be etched into the sign by making a groove with specialist sharpened tools. Which method of custom engraving that your house sign will have will be determined by all of these factors of production.

Metal engraving or stone engraving will require sandblasting, cnc milling or a laser to create the lettering, whilst a wooden sign can be created using hand carving tools.

Popular wood choices in the UK for hand-crafted house signs tend to be: Accoya, Balau, Chestnut, Douglas Fir, English Cherry, English Oak, Idigbo, Iroko, Opepe, Sapele and Sycamore.

Text Engraved House Signs using CNC Technology

man using a manual mill

A milling machine is another common way of engraving text, CNC engraved text is also great for engraving clipart images.

The CNC mill is a vertical machining centre which is held stationary on a machine bed and the design is milled using hard wearing tungsten or diamond tipped drill bits to carve out the house name or number onto the stone. Accurate designs are made due to the multiple axis that the milling machine uses, these can be 3, 4 or even 5 axis pieces of milling equipment.

The spindle houses the drill which then takes its instruction via the cnc control panel, this control panel uses an alphanumeric G-code to know where to move the drill and etches out the design onto the material which is attached to the milling table. Once the G-codes are programmed into the mill machine, the tungsten carbide cutter can then drill out the chosen engraving.

Text Engraved House Signs using Laser Technology

illustration of precise laser engraving

Laser engraved text is a more modern method of creating a good looking house sign, using a pulsed light laser beam to give engrave text that is fine and accurate.

Laser engraving allows virtually any design to be engraved onto different materials. Laser engraving is very similar to printing, once the design has been created in a graphics program, it is possible to decorate the surface with that design in perfect detail.

A Co2 laser heats up the surface to create the design, with differing levels of heat meaning that colour gradient effects can be achieved. Other than using co2, a fiber laser can also achieve similar details results, whilst a CNC laser can create so much heat that it can melt through metal surfaces using highly pressured nitrogen.

Each of these types of laser are used on hard stone surfaces which will create a very long lasting and durable house sign. Many people like an image on their sign these days which is where the laser based engraving equipment is exceptional.