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Making an outdoor wooden sign

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Forum topic by jcn posted 01-20-2011 10:06 PM 11801 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jcn

37 posts in 2400 days


01-20-2011 10:06 PM

I owe a good friend a big favor, so he has asked me to make for him a wooden sign to hang outside.

It seems like a relatively easy task, which I generally consider an indicator that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I guess my primary concern is that it’s going to be outside in the elements, so I want to avoid the classic problems. Splitting, cupping, warping, etc. It will be hung on a mountain in Eastern TN. So I’ll be fighting snow, rain, humidity, the whole spectrum of weather.

I don’t have all the details yet, but I’m sure it will be roughly rectangluar, not too big. Maybe 24 inches wide. I’m thinking about keeping it easy with some 3/4 red oak from a BORG. Maybe poplar or maple. Probably oak. I don’t know.

Anybody have any pointers or advice?


11 replies so far

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sawblade1

754 posts in 2491 days


#1 posted 01-20-2011 10:12 PM

Make it out of Western red cedar or cypress for durability these wood can’t be beat ( I build my chairs out of it ) check out Adirondack duo Sawblade1 My chairs have been out in the snow, rain, sun and any other weird weather NE Ohio puts out and the wood has held out fine. Just make sure to use everything outdoor rated IE: glue, paint, clear cotes etc.

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path elmerthomas81@neo.rr.com

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jcn

37 posts in 2400 days


#2 posted 01-20-2011 10:15 PM

Thanks!

I actually thought of cedar as soon as I posted this thread. Nice to see someone else suggest it.

pretty sure I can get cedar from my local Woodcraft.

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sawblade1

754 posts in 2491 days


#3 posted 01-20-2011 10:32 PM

Buy it from a local mill You will get better pricing/ Quality

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path elmerthomas81@neo.rr.com

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rogerw

262 posts in 2154 days


#4 posted 01-21-2011 04:31 PM

The only thing I could add to that is if it is not quarter sawed then rip the plank into 1-1/2 to 2 inch strips and flip every other piece end for end to alternate the grain. this will eliminate any cupping that may eventually occur. Be sure to use a weatherproof glue.

-- >> my shop teacher used to say "do the best at everything you make for your mom because you're going to see it for the rest of your life!" <<

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Colin

93 posts in 2275 days


#5 posted 01-21-2011 06:58 PM

It’s amazing how small signs look once they are outside.

If you want it to be visible from the road, there is a formula you can use that tells you how many inches the letters need to increase in size related to how many feet away you are. Can’t remember what the formula is but it is a pretty common formula used by the Department of Transportation so it should be easy to find.

Also, red cedar does not necessarily hold up well in the elements, you need to find old growth. A lot of that stuff is imported from Canada, at least in my area. Alaskan Cedar (nootka cypress) is usually pretty easy to find and it is harder than red cedar and stains real even.

When choosing an outdoor finish, remember on a mountain it will need to be maintained every six months so choose something easy to maintain like sikkens cetol. Paint is the best solution.

-- http://www.columbiawoodscreendoors.com

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jcn

37 posts in 2400 days


#6 posted 01-21-2011 07:10 PM

Hi, thanks for all of the feedback.

This sign doesn’t need to be really big. It’s basically a “please don’t park here, this is my private driveway” sign. My friend has a cabin on the mountain and sometimes people park in his place, leaving him nowhere to park. So the sign will only need to be legible from a few few feet away.

The cabin is done in cedar, so a cedar sign would match aesthetically.

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rogerw

262 posts in 2154 days


#7 posted 01-21-2011 09:17 PM

yeah it’s amazing how big a “rest area” sign is when you see someone standing against it before it is lifted into place.

-- >> my shop teacher used to say "do the best at everything you make for your mom because you're going to see it for the rest of your life!" <<

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doninvegas

334 posts in 2372 days


#8 posted 01-22-2011 01:25 AM

Chalk up another vote for WRC. We make all of our Adirondack furniture and signs out of the stuff. For our signs, if it’s going to be outside we finish them with spar varnish.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

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Colin

93 posts in 2275 days


#9 posted 01-22-2011 02:06 AM

Yeah, spar varnish will last a little longer initially but it is difficult to refinish. It needs to be stripped before refinishing. Your sign is going to need to be refinished regularly if you want it to stay looking new. There’s two ways of looking at it, I would rather use the product that is easier to maintain even though spar varnish will last a little longer.

-- http://www.columbiawoodscreendoors.com

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Pop

427 posts in 3410 days


#10 posted 01-22-2011 03:19 AM

Is this sign to be carved? Or is it just painted?

Pop

-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

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Pimzedd

562 posts in 3268 days


#11 posted 01-22-2011 04:04 AM

Does it have to be wood. Professional sign makers are making carved signs from High Density Urethane. If it is just a flat panel, they use MDO sign board which is a marine grade wood. If this helps, look for a sign supply house such as Graphic Solutions Group in Dallas, TX.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

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