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Outdoor wood signs

Discussion in 'Dimensional Signs' started by L Town Graphics, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. L Town Graphics

    L Town Graphics Member

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    For those of you doing routed outdoor signs what type of wood are you using?
     
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  2. Terremoto

    Terremoto Member

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    Western Red Cedar, quarter sawn, 2" x 10" x by whatever length I can find.
     
  3. Mosh

    Mosh Major Contributor

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    +Cedar
     
  4. L Town Graphics

    L Town Graphics Member

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    Do you purchase it locally or do you have it shipped to you?
     
  5. Terremoto

    Terremoto Member

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    We can get it here locally but if you want to "hand pick" it you pretty much have to cross the Continental Divide and head out to the West Coast.
     
  6. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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  7. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Mahogany, preferably Honduras Mahogany.
     
  8. L Town Graphics

    L Town Graphics Member

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  9. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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    I've used em. quality.
     
  10. L Town Graphics

    L Town Graphics Member

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    Thank you for the recommendation!
     
  11. limacchina

    limacchina Member

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    material for outdoor signage

    MDF is the mostly used wood for outdoor dimensional sign making
     
  12. Jackpine

    Jackpine Major Contributor

    Not the best but it is cheap. Cedar or redwood is my choice.
     
  13. SignProPlus-Alex

    SignProPlus-Alex Member

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    If it doesn't have a wood grain then HDU or extira. If costumer want a natural or rustic look then cider or reclaimed wood.
     
  14. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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    extira is crap
     
  15. TammieH

    TammieH Very Active Member

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    MDF will break down eventually, no matter what you do it will absorb moister...unless you live in the desert of course. Another drawback, its extremely heavy.
     
  16. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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    yeah MDF is silly to use for outdoor stuff

    only thing I use it for is sacrificial boards on the router
     
  17. SD&F

    SD&F Very Active Member

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    Ditto we use Western Red Cedar. It work great, just wish I could get some BIG pieces locally.
     
  18. SD&F

    SD&F Very Active Member

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    BTW, if price is an issue....I always go HDU and make it grain frame
     
  19. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Based on the comments and selections of many here... are we talking carved wood as the OP stated or sandblasted signs ??

    I've always found the hard woods much better for carving, while the softer woods like cedar and redwood far superior for blasting.

    As for the Xtira, MDF and others mentioned.... aren't they for beginners ??
     
  20. Terremoto

    Terremoto Member

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    I've hand carved lots of Western Red Cedar signs.

    Your chisels, gouges, and sweeps have to be razor sharp and you have to be cognizant of the grain direction while carving. Western Red Cedar lasts a LONG time. I guess that's why the West Coast Natives used it to carve totem poles.

    Avoid any boards with a face grain or you're going to get "cupping". Edge grain boards only for laminating in to larger panels and you'll have a panel that's good for both carving and sandblasting. No problem running laminated panels through a CNC router either.

    Best practice for carving signs is to coat out your panel right down to the final finish, cut your paintmask letter pattern, line it up and stick it down, then use that as your carving guide. Lay in your gold size, let it tack up and then lay in your leaf. When you remove the paintmask the gold leaf will have a nice crisp edge and nothing more is required.

    Avoid doing it the other way around. That is carving first and painting after. Way too time consuming and less accurate than doing it the right way the first time.

    If you're going to do the carving on a CNC router just cover your coated out sign panel with paintmask and router your letters/design right through the paintmask. If you're just doing a contrasting colour for the carved part of the sign you can do it in a hurry as your paintmask will do what it's supposed to do and keep the paint where it's supposed to be. I usually use a little of the background colour to seal the edge between the paintmask and the sign panel but it's not entirely necessary.

    Western Red Cedar is the right product for a number of reasons.

    • It lasts a long time.
    • It's easy to work with.
    • It looks nice if you clear coat it.
    • It has a beautiful patina if you just leave it to age naturally. (At least I think it does.)
    • It holds OneShot very well if your intent is to cover up the wood.
    • It's considerably lighter than Medex or Extira.
    Carved lots of Mahogany when I lived in Belize and find it's more difficult to work with than Western Red Cedar. Of course they never called it Honduran Mahogany but it's the same thing.


    If you want to carve wood that the Maya used for their carved lintels then get a hold of some chicozapote. That stuff will last 500 years or more without any special treatment. Carved some of zapote when I lived in Belize but it's not the easiest stuff to work with.



    Dan
     
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