Advice on restoring sign (relief carving on cedar)

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Forum topic by Bobbie54 posted 04-11-2016 12:57 PM 814 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 771 days

04-11-2016 12:57 PM

Some years ago (I think about 35) my dad carved a road sign for our road. He was an avid woodcarver, especially in cedar, and made many items including dugout canoes and totem poles and a few carved doors. He would have liked one of us five daughters to become a carver but no one did.

 photo Sign.jpg

Anyway, the sign appears to have been made from cedar planks held together in a frame to form about a 4×3 sign. They must have been about 1” planks but he did a relief carving on both sides so in some areas the original (as carved) thickness was probably about 1/2”. It was painted soon after finishing and I have no idea if any kind of preservative was used first. Original paint type is also unknown but probably oil-based.
It has since been repainted, most recently about 7 years ago with water-based acrylic craft paint.

It stands out exposed to weather and wind (lots of rain, lots of wind). It was recently graffiti’d so we went up to repaint and discovered rot in the thinner spots as well as a little bit in the uncarved spots- some splitting of the wood, in particular. We went ahead and repainted since we wanted to hide the profanities that had been spray painted on it but are now trying to decide whether there is a good way to save it. The paint is flaking in the damaged spots so we can get down to wood quite easily there. It can’t easily be sanded because the chiseled out areas are rough-chiseled (chisel marks show) but where the rot is there isn’t any way to sand. I think any attempt to just remove the rot will leave holes.

Any suggestions would be welcome.

3 replies so far

View jerryminer's profile


923 posts in 1436 days

#1 posted 04-12-2016 08:27 AM

They make epoxies for repairing rotted wood. I have had good success with this one:

Rot Fix, by System Three

but there are others. The concept is a low-viscosity—like water—epoxy that soaks into the soft wood, then hardens into a solid. If needed, a thicker, putty-like epoxy is applied after, to fill any spots where wood is missing.

The System Three version of the epoxy putty is “SculpWood”. If you buy the “End Rot” kit, it contains both Rot-Fix and SculpWood

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View Bobbie54's profile


2 posts in 771 days

#2 posted 04-12-2016 11:25 PM

That sounds like a possibility, thanks.

View BigDaddyOf5's profile


27 posts in 1532 days

#3 posted 04-13-2016 12:33 AM

Abatron makes a great epoxy based restoration system. I stock their product line at the hardware store I manage. I’ve seen a lot of contractors use it for restoration type work on old wooden moldings, columns and other detailed work. Besides the real loose material, you shouldn’t have to scrape or remove too much of the original material to use this product.

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