Is there a special technique that anyone can recommend for painting inner and outer edges of a cutout (say, from a jigsaw or something).

I've thrown together an example in Tinkercad:

enter image description here

I'm planning on having 2 colors, the blue on top and orange along the text. My actual design will be exposing inner and outer edges of text.

I've done this before with masking tape, spray paint, and a helluva lot of patience (and usually end up doing it about 4 times before I'm happy with it). I feel like there's gotta be a better way, an ancient woodworking secret that I have yet to be taught, oh masters of wood.

Even if I went the tape / spray paint route, which would be a better part to do first? The orange or the blue? Does it matter?

Any tips?

Thanks :)

EDIT: in case it matters, this is about an 16" long sign, about 8" tall. Several kinda sharp corners on the lettering. Wood is a 3/4" board (I think alder?).

EDIT: One (probably important) detail I forgot to mention is the edge will be routed. The bevel will be blue.

  • "I feel like there's gotta be a better way, an ancient woodworking secret that I have yet to be taught, oh masters of wood." Yes, it's called a brush ;-)
    – Graphus
    Dec 11, 2017 at 7:12
  • 2
    There are several approaches you could take here, some of which involve masking and some not (and one that uses the material itself as a mask so it almost feels like cheating) but the main thing is just how neat does it need to be? Perfect or "good enough to view from 20 feet"? If it needs to look flawless without a single bleb then masking or careful brush painting are probably your only options.
    – Graphus
    Dec 11, 2017 at 7:13
  • Thanks, well as far as the entire world (minus me) is concerned "good enough" is ok. I get totally obsessive/compulsive about this kind of stuff though (which is why I'll end up masking it and painting it 4 times to get it right and ultimately taking a week or more to get a line straight). So I guess the answer is: both :) Dec 11, 2017 at 22:47
  • @Graphus Is the brush only recommended on the outer facing edges? Or would you recommend using that to get into the tight corners of the inner edges as well? Dec 11, 2017 at 22:49
  • If you wanted to paint the front face first followed by the edges the edges could (and some would argue should) be done by brush. That isn't actually the route I'd recommend, but if you do the edges second brushes are totally the way to go.
    – Graphus
    Dec 12, 2017 at 6:52

1 Answer 1


Here's the first thing I would try.

  1. Paint the top (the blue color, in your example). Let that dry.
  2. Put blue painter's tape over the blue paint.
  3. Cut the lettering.
  4. Without removing the painter's tape, paint the sides of the lettering (the orange color, in your example). Let that dry.
  5. Remove the masking tape.

There are several potential downsides to this technique. Whenever you cut through painter's tape, a residue will gum up the blade you're using to cut. Depending on how much you're cutting, this can make the blade dull faster, or at least cut like a duller blade. You might have to stop one or more times to clean the blade.

Also, depending on the quality of your blade in the first place, the tape might be getting ripped up instead of making a clean cut. With a sharp blade that produces clean cuts in wood on its own (i.e., no splintering or tear out), this shouldn't be an issue. In fact, using painter's tape over the area being cut is a common technique to prevent tear out of veneers on veneered plywood.

  • Thank you for your answer, this is great info. One important tidbit I forgot to mention (which may prevent this solution from working for me) is that there will be a routed edge. The bevel itself will be blue Dec 11, 2017 at 22:56
  • Which edge will be routed? The edges of the letters, or the edge around the outside, as shown in your picture? Dec 12, 2017 at 14:28

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