Sign cut for a friend with accented cut area

Looking for some advice here…

I’m cutting a design into a mahogany board I built that is 18"x14"x1". To highlight the lettering, I showed my friend some of the signs I did with paint in the letters / figures, but he doesn’t want paint. He wants something that would better compliment the wood. I recommended stain which he thought was a good idea.

What is the best way to treat the board prior to the cut that would prevent the stain from seeping under the non-cut wood? Shellac? Wax? Thinned poly or lacquer?

Since the board is long grain, I’m not sure you could prevent the stain from running under the top treatment… Maybe a gel stain?

After the stain dried, my intent would be to sand the top down, cleaning up all the edges, in prep for finishing with a poly.

Any thoughts?

I build a Tea cabinet out of maple for my wife and I engraved ( VCarve) the doors. She wants natural wood with black letters.
I use minwax wood sealer (that’s what I had on hand) .
I seal the top first, sand it and clean it, use some transfer tape over the area that was gonna get VCarved once was done I apply more wood seater to the VCarved area and Paint it black.

Se pick the nobs!! I would never ever thought about make a smiley face… she did…


Thanks gpagnozzi… Very nice work and I like the smiley face! Excellent idea.

I have some intricate areas in the cut. Do you think the vinyl transfer tape will hold up to that? Do you think you need the piece sealed and the vinyl or were you being extra careful?

I done painted signs with multiple colors using latex, which stands up on the wood well and comes right off with a good sanding, but any stain that gets on the top, would be hard to sand out.

Thanks for your help!


I just picked up some transfer tape and will give that a trial on some test runs… Thanks for the great idea!

My $0.02: If that piece of mahogony is precious, then learn as much as you can on something else.


Agreed! Thanks Jeff.

I would follow Jeff’s suggestion and try it first on something else.

Yes I was been extra careful and somewhat lazy :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: , did not want to redo the doors