With a router and a simple jig, you can get the dado's done... and have the router to do other things!
For free-form panels, using a cheap band saw, you can cut pieces of MDF (1/4" stuff) to the desired shapes. Sand nice & smooth the edges. To develop the Patterns you want.
Then, all you have to do is place pattern on the wood (for the sign), draw around it with a pencil, rough cut it out on band saw (about 1/8" or less from the line).
Using double-sided carpet tape, tape the pattern onto your sign work piece.
Place a Flush Trim or Pattern bit into your router... the bit has a bearing that rides against the Pattern... the cutting part of the bit is in perfect alignment with the bearing.
You push the router bit into the wood so the bearing rides on your Pattern and then just move the router around your Pattern keeping the bearing on the pattern. If you slide away from the edge, no problem, just go back and do it again... Simple as all get out.
Now, you have an exact copy of your pattern for the sign!
That should get you started thinking about the process...
Last edited by Joe Lyddon; 06-05-2011 at 04:09 PM.