Using a Laser Engraved Signature Template


The process of inlaying your signature into a piece of wood is straight forward, but the steps must be followed precisely to ensure a proper inlay fit. After you have read and become comfortable with the procedures described in these instructions, we strongly recommend that you make several practice cuts on some scrap wood prior to cutting on your actual work piece.

The signature plate and template have been precisely engineered to produce a snug, seamless fit. Alterations to either the template or the plate can result in an ill-fitting inlay.

You will notice that your signature plates have been shipped in sealed plastic bags. Please keep all signature plates in this packaging until ready for installation. Remember the signature plate is a wood product and will expand or contract as surrounding moisture varies. The sealed plastic packaging protects the plate from moisture and reduces the likelihood of expansion and contraction prior to installation. Signature plates are shipped with a protective coating on both front and back. The coating must be carefully removed prior to installation. Prior to removal, the coating may be used as a paint mask if you desire to create darker or lighter contrasts on specific areas of the plate.

Router Set-Up

Signature plate template are designed for use with a 1/8" router bit and 5/16" OD router bushing.

1. Following the instructions supplied by your router manufacturer, install a 1/8" router bit in your router.

2. Place the 5/16" OD bushing in the base plate of the router. Before completely tightening the 5/16" OD bushing, ensure that the router bit is centered in the opening on the bushing. Observe the "gap" from the edge of the bit to the inner wall of the bushing. Make any minor bushing adjustments necessary so the gap between the outside edge of the bit and the inside wall of the bushing is the same around the entire perimeter of the bit.

3. The router depth of cut must be adjusted to match the thickness of the laser engraved signature plate. Using a trial and error process and a piece of scrap wood, vary the depth of cut until the recess depth exactly matches the thickness of the plate being used.

Template Set-Up

1. Before the template can be used it must be solidly fixed and held in position on top of your work piece. The template can be clamped into position on top of your work piece. The template can be clamped into position using C-clamps or F-clamps.

2. An alternative to clamping involves using a high quality, double sided turning tape. If using tape to fix the template into position, be sure the template is firmly seated and will not slip during use.

Routing the Recess

1. Turn the router on and, with the bit in the center of the "template hole" lower the router until the router base is seated flat on top of the template.

2. As you begin routing sure that the router orientation remains the exactly the same throughout the entire routing sequence. For example, place the router label facing forward and make sure it remains facing forward through all routing operations. "Rolling" the router around corners of the template will change the relationship of the bit, bushing, and template and can result in recess inaccuracies.

3. Before removing the template, visually inspect the recess to ensure that all material has been removed from the area. After all material has been cleared, remove the template from the work piece.

Gluing the Signature Plate in Place

1. Test fit the signature plate in the recess you just cut. If the plate fits nicely, it is ready to be glued into place. If the inlay fits, but the fit is tight, don't push the plate all of the way down. You may have trouble removing it. Spread a thin, even coating of woodworking glue (Titebond) ensuring that the entire surface area of the recess is coated. Failure to coat the entire recess area with glue can result in an ill-fitting inlay or may even cause part of the inlay to warp or "buckle." Do not use too much glue or "squeeze out" may occur and ruin the inlay or surrounding wood area.

2. If the inlay did not fit the recess, some final fitting will be required. If the plate is too large, try using a blow dryer on a mild setting to "dry" the plate out.

3. If, after drying, the signature plate still "hangs" on a corner or edge, carefully sand the edge to remove a small amount of material. Proceed slowly, test fitting frequently so you will not remove too much material. Remember, the signature plate and the template are designed to produce a snug fit.

4. If the signature plate fits loosely in the recess, you may achieve a tighter fit by allowing the plate to absorb moisture. Depending on humidity levels, this may be accomplished by either removing the plate from the plastic bag for a period of time, or placing it in a humid environment such as a bathroom. This will allow the plate to swell slightly, producing a tighter fit.

5. Once the signature plate has been glued into place, apply mild clamping pressure to hold the plate flat until dry.