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5 Finishing

Painting the letters is more of a 'painting job' than carving. Painting the letters is just like painting the outside of a house or fence. Incised, painted letters are tucked back from the elements and will last considerably longer than a simple face of paint.

At the end of the video you'll see a shot of the sign in situ. Although our camera couldn't quite resolve the image, we could actually see the sign from over a mile away!


| 01 February 2019 17:24

Thank you so much! I will find some scrap pieces today and test it out! The business owner is a family friend so going to re oil it won’t be a problem at all down the line.

| 01 February 2019 16:57

Sienna - It might be a good idea to set yourself up with a series of experiments. They don't have to be elaborate, just samples of wood with bits of carved letters to test out your various options, thus building up your own 'body of knowledge'.
I am not so sure you need to stain the wood. I have see many signs in Maine that were carved and gilded with the gilded letters themselves and then outlined with a black line, which really made them pop. I'd suggest you try carving the letters; sealing the wood with polyurethane; gilding the letters; outlining the letters with a thin line of black enamel paint and see what that looks like.
Another option might be to carve, seal and gild the letters, add your outline and then finish the wood with linseed oil rather than varnish.
No surface finish, such as a varnish will last forever and will need refreshing over the years but it might be easier to re-oil?
Best of luck!

| 01 February 2019 16:24

Hi there!
I am going to be starting a large outdoor sign for a Jiu jitsu dojo in the area. I have my design in photoshop ready to go. I was going to use white oak, and my favorite combo of black lettering and some gold leaf in the small designs and symbols. The last carving I did the gold leaf didn’t show up very well with the color of oak, so I was thinking of staining it a bit darker so it pops. An embarrassing confession, up to this point I have been filling in my letters with sharpie!!! I know, it’s terrible but it’s worked beautifully if I spray poly first, as long as I don’t make a single error. I am ready to be a regular person and do the painting of letters, but I Am not sure the steps I should take. Since the letters are coated with polyurethane before the paint, when should I stain the wood itself? If I do it before painting, the sanding of any error will take off the stain, and if I do it after, I will run the risk of getting stain in the letters. (Which may be not to big a deal for the black but the gold it will show)
Do you have any suggestions?

| 27 October 2016 11:02

William - I remove the paper to make sure I've carved the surface edges of the letters truly. The paper, thin as it is, has lines which you have to cut through. When you take the paper off and shine a good cross light you see the real thing...
But you are right, it does seem a pity not to have the paper masking the surface. I try to be as accurate as possible to reduce the light after-sanding to a minimum.

| 24 October 2016 21:46

Why not just keep the paper down when you paint the letters? That would keep paint off the background and prevent the need for sanding which can affect the sharpness of the letters.

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