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Best Sign Material for detail

PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2019 12:53 am
by slsmallcraft
I'm working on a 30" round sign. I've imported the bitmap design into Vcarve and created the vectors. I haven't cleaned up the vectors yet, but did a first pass. I used the pocketing toolpath to raise the letters and the barrel. The barrel is pretty intricate so I'm assuming a small engraving bit. What is the best wood substrate to use for this type of work? Can MDF even be made to work? I've got to color the letters and the barrel so I'm assuming I'll paint the surface where the color is needed (brown barrel) and the pocketing toolpath will take of the rest. Comments and suggestions appreciated. I've attached the preview file.

Re: Best Sign Material for detail

PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2019 7:20 am
by FixitMike
Indoor or outdoor? As far as I know, there is no wood that will withstand the long term effects of wind, sun , and rain. For outdoor, I would suggest High Density Urethane Foam, 32 pound or heavier.

Re: Best Sign Material for detail

PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2019 11:54 am
by slsmallcraft
Thanks Mike-it's indoor.

Re: Best Sign Material for detail

PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2019 1:58 pm
by Leo
No matter what "wood" you use, you will have some distortion like warping or bowing or "something". Personally, I do not like to use wood for this sort of thing, especially if it is totally painted.

Actually MDF is a decent choice because it is more stable BUT it is rittled with "fuzzies". It also chips and breaks off small details with small cross sections. After a decent coat or 3 of a good primer the fuzzies can be sanded away - lots of labor of love.

The BEST material is HDU (brand name sign foam or equivalent) It is VERY easy to machine, takes details VERY well and paints VERY well. There will be NO fuzzies to sand off. HDU is impervious to weather. HDU when painted will not crack, peal, bubble or rust. I just got a sign back from a customer to be repainted a different color and looks like I just finished painting it. The sign is 4 years old. I pressure washed it and not even a speck of paint came off the sign. The down side is how to get it - and the cost, as it is very expensive. I set up a commercial account at a local sign shop and buy it from them. Sometimes the local sign shop has damaged sheets at discounted prices. I always look for that.

Other things are Corian, PVC (can get AZEK at Home Depot) and sheet insulation foam. All things have their up and downs, For TINY stuff Corian is the absolutely best.

Re: Best Sign Material for detail

PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2019 12:48 am
by slsmallcraft
thanks guys...I'm looking for HDU and associated primers, etc.

Re: Best Sign Material for detail

PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2019 11:57 am
by Leo
I use Jay Cook's sign primer on all my signs including HDU.

Re: Best Sign Material for detail

PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 2:45 am
by slsmallcraft
Thanks Jay, I got it done in MDF. I'll look at other options as you mentioned. I was hoping there would be a good choice in between MDF and HDU for an indoor sign.

Re: Best Sign Material for detail

PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 11:29 am
by Adrian
I use solid surface material (corian) for 90% of my signs as HDU of sign quality is expensive and hard to get in the UK. Works great indoors and out plus holds the smallest detail with out chipping out like MDF tends to. Most signs I do are simple information signs so I stick down some vinyl masking, cut the design and then spray the whole thing black. Peel off the masking and it's perfect. I have one at the end of the lane pointing to my house that has been outside with no maintenance at all for nearly 15 years and still looks new. Probably last a lifetime indoors.

Re: Best Sign Material for detail

PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:32 pm
by Ollie
Hi

Just a quick idea for future reference, Tulipwood is pretty good for taking a crisp moulding and has been used for such by joiners for years, it also takes paint well and is very cheap.
Its called tulipwood because its from the `tulip` poplar.

Also Limewood has always been used for detailed carvings .

Ollie