I’m making signs with my handheld router, and I plan to paint the recessed numbers. How can I speed up the time-consuming process of painting each character individually with a small brush?

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Q:

I'm making signs with my handheld router, and I plan to paint the recessed numbers and letters but leave the top bare with a clear finish. How can I speed up the time-consuming process of painting each character individually with a small brush?
—Fred Johnson, Couer d'Alene, Idaho

A:

If you have a surface planer, drum sander, or even a portable sander, Fred, then you have a simple, quick method within your grasp. First, spray-paint the characters, as shown below, preferably a color that will contrast with the finished wood tone. Be sure to spray from several angles to coat the sidewalls—it might take several coats.

When the paint has fully dried, plane or sand the sign to remove only enough material to reveal clean wood, as shown at bottom. Take light passes (164 " or less) to avoid tearing out the grain, especially around the characters.