What type of wood should I use?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by woodswitch, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. woodswitch

    woodswitch Member

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    Can anyone please give me suggestions on what type of wood they would use for a carved outdoor sign? I am a woodworker who has been hired to make a farm sign for someone. It is to be hand carved with routered letters. So far, I am torn between fir and cedar. Could use any advice. thanks!
     
  2. Alexanderg

    Alexanderg New Member

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    Many "carved" signs are made from end grain redwood that has been sandblasted rather than routed. Routed signs, by contract, are usually face grain and a big problem is warpage after the sign is made. You don't say how big this sign is, but Western Red Cedar will be easier to carve, considerably lighter, and more weather resistant in the long run. Signs get a lot of exposure, by definition, and painting, staining and regular maintainance of these coatings will be the key to longevity. For small to medium size signs, I would consider planing and edge jointing 2 b y 6 WRC, edge glueing with biscuits and high performance glue, and then carving the sign. Paint will last much longer than varnish and no effort should be spared to coat every nook and cranny. Refinishing every couple of years is a must.
     

  3. CatsPaw

    CatsPaw Who...me?

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    Walnut used to be used for windows because it doesn't rot very easily. Walnut may be expensive where you're at. For me it's cheap as dirt. I got it laying around waiting to be used up for something.
     
  4. Highground

    Highground Well-Known Member

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    You're in Pa. Get some black locust. It will last forever.
     
  5. woodswitch

    woodswitch Member

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    I've never carved into black locust. Anyone else try it?
    This is a 2' x 3' sign, raised letters, raised realistic pig in the center. It's going to have a good bit of detail in it. (big money horse people in this area and I'm looking to start a little side business!) Take all advice I can get!
     
  6. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

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    "Walnut used to be used for windows because it doesn't rot very easily. Walnut may be expensive where you're at. For me it's cheap as dirt. I got it laying around waiting to be used up for something."

    Want to mail me some? :) It's ridiculously expensive here.


    Cypress might be a good sign wood. It certainly holds up well to the elements. I've been reading a bunch about Ipe - a tropical hardwood that is extremely weather resistant. It's expensive, compared to cedar or redwood, but I don't imagine it would be prohibitive if you were just making a 2x3 sign out of it. Cypress is pretty easy to carve, Don't know about Ipe. It's supposed to be pretty dense stuff.
     
  7. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    black locust may last for awhile but your tooling will suffer.
     
  8. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If your choices are between cedar and fir, use the cedar (f it is clear and straight grained) as it will be easier to carve, hold up to weather, and hold paint or stain reasonably well. Fir is splintery for carving. Black locust is difficult to carve and hard on tools.
     
  9. woodswitch

    woodswitch Member

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    thanks, looking like probably cedar....maybe I'll post a picture when I get it done. this has given me the excuse to go buy a plunge router! now got to find a bit of time to get started...
     
  10. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    GO here Woodcentral.com There is a carving section on there. There is a guy named Lee Grindinger. He is among the best in th country and always helpful
     
  11. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Where do you live. I'll be comin that way sooner or later:)
     
  12. woodswitch

    woodswitch Member

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    just checked it out, thanks for the link!! :)