I'm making a name sign and had a "duh" moment after I started routing the edges.

Is there any way - or perhaps another technique that someone could recommend - to get the routed edge in these tighter areas? Would a chisel be appropriate here? Perhaps a different tool/technique completely?

Along the same lines: how about getting a sharper corner on the edge (see green circles in photo below)?

Btw, I'm using a Dewalt handheld router.

enter image description here

Some PhotoShop magic to illustrate edges a little better

  • 2
    Rout what you can, hand-carve the rest.
    – keshlam
    Aug 1, 2016 at 2:29

2 Answers 2


Is there any way ... to get the routed edge in these tighter areas?

Not with that router bit. The bearing size determines the minimum clearance at an inside corner. You can have a full roundover if there are rounded corners or have sharp corners that the roundover misses, it's an either/or.

Would a chisel be appropriate here?

Yes, chisels and gouges to get into tight spots.

Your chisels must be very sharp for this to work well. Sharper edges are good for all woods but are especially important when working softwoods as the pale earlywood is particularly soft or spongy and is hard to cut cleanly using edged tools (paradoxically a harder wood cuts better, although there is greater resistance).

If you need tips on how to sharpen chisels, see these previous Q&As:
Is there a 'best' way to sharpen an edged tool like a chisel?
How do I sharpen curved tools like gouges?
What criteria would want me to bevel my chisel in a certain way

And some help in determining sharpness:
How can I tell if wood turning (lathe) chisels are sharp?

perhaps another technique

This won't work if you want the letters to overlap as you have here but if it's acceptable to have them just touching there is a trick, and that is to saw out each letter separately and round them over individually, then glue them to a thin backer board to bring the word together with the letters touching.

Rounded over individual letters

Source: Making Wood Signs by Patrick Spielman

  • Wow, thank you for the excellent, detailed answer! This is what I was looking for. I will probably take the chisel approach, but the other thing is pretty interesting too. I may need to get a nice chisel. I got a set of cheap ones, I think from Harbor Freight. I can't imagine they will do much in terms of (good) quality - never actually tried them yet, and I don't think I've used chisels since high school wood shop (~15 years ago). Aug 1, 2016 at 7:17
  • @AdamPlocher, your Harbor Freight chisels may be surprisingly good. Many members of the Reddit woodworking forum have them and report the quality is just fine, but obviously being this cheap they're not all equally good. The main thing is they must be sharpened before first use (as with nearly every chisel made) and then honed or stropped frequently during use to keep the edge as sharp as possible.
    – Graphus
    Aug 2, 2016 at 7:22
  • 1
    I found using cheap chisels such as the ones from Harbor Freight have another advantage, at least initially: I was less scared of messing up the sharpening process when working on cheap tools. They work well enough; the biggest problem is potentially one of cheap steel not holding its edge as long as a higher quality tool might. But when I was new to sharpening, I certainly felt more at ease working on a cheap tool I could easily replace. Aug 2, 2016 at 14:50
  • Generally steel that doesn't hold an edge as well sharpens more quickly, so for edged tools it can be a trade-off of how often you're interrupted versus how long you've interrupted. (Assuming a reasonable alloy to start with.) On cheap chisels in particular, take time to flatten the back of the working area for best sharpening: you want tow flat planes meeting at the edge.
    – keshlam
    Aug 2, 2016 at 18:09
  • @CharlieKilian, longer interval between sharpenings is a big selling point with most cutting tools of higher quality but comparative tests often show the difference is not that large (q.v. the Aldi chisels versus ones that cost five times as much). Edge retention is the thing plugged in the marketing of anything made from high-end or 'exotic' steels, and while the interval here can be very large indeed it comes at two major costs — much more difficulty in sharpening and the steel type can't be made quite as sharp (compared with O1 for example).
    – Graphus
    Aug 3, 2016 at 7:20

If you have a similar bit without a bearing.
(And your letters are created with a computer.)
You might be able to scale them.
And create a template to glue on top.
And route with a collar.

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