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Old 04-03-2017, 03:41 PM
NorthernMN NorthernMN is offline
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Default Cedar Sign Finish

I have been making some blanks to test out the CNC when it gets here and wondering what everyone uses for a finish?

I have seen a lot of comments on the sikkens products, so far I have tested the log and siding with mixed results. It takes an extremely long time to dry and not very efficient for making signs.

I have also seen some recommendations for General Finishes Exterior 450 Stain/Clear or the Cabot Australian Oil.

Any suggestions?
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  #2  
Old 04-03-2017, 05:27 PM
T.R.MacMunn T.R.MacMunn is offline
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Well, I make signs for a living and I warranty everything that leaves here. If you paint your signs with good quality 100% acrylic paints, they'll look good for a decade or more.
If you use any of the "natural" finishes, you can expect them to start looking shabby after 3 years or so.
Sikkens Cetol was a warranty nightmare for me. Besides being a female dog to strip off, it was burning the eyes out of my head. I've used a bit of Australian Timber Oil, but only warranty it for 1 year outdoors.. I do 5 years for painted signs.
If someone insists on seeing the grain, I just paint it on.
If it's an indoor sign, I use PPG or Porter Ultra deep base without pigment. You don't need a lot of UV protection indoors
Any finish that won't allow moisture to migrate through it won't last long on cedar. Spar varnish blows too ....

For the record, I like a natural finish as much as the next guy but I don't want signs coming back for refinishing until they're at least 10 to 15 years old
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  #3  
Old 04-04-2017, 08:31 AM
T.R.MacMunn T.R.MacMunn is offline
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Scott .... I "googled" you to see where exactly you are located.... although I'm a bit south of you, I suspect we have a very similar climate.
I don't mean to sound condescending. It's just that the question "how long will it last?" always comes up & the "clear" finishes just don't. The analogy I always use is those new log homes with the nice natural finish on them ..... notice that they don't look new any more after 3 years, 5 at the most?
So, IF you're planning on making signs that will last, you'll have a lot less callbacks using 100% acrylic housepaints. The better brands .... don't cheap out. Few small signs take more than $5 in paint ..........
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Old 04-04-2017, 09:53 AM
NorthernMN NorthernMN is offline
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TR

Funny thing is I googled your location as well as I saw you were looking for blue pine, I was recently picking up some pine in Duluth and they had some spruce that had a far amount of spalting.

I would say you are correct in our climates being similar, too cold in the winter. I understand your comment on no sealer or clear holding up more the 3-5 years. I have found the same thing when looking into the wide world of outdoor finishes. I have seen some of your signs you have posted images of and I will give you a hand, they look great and you do a great job.

To start out I will be focusing on outdoor cabin/RV signs to get familiar with the CNC and then see where it goes from there.
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  #5  
Old 04-04-2017, 10:39 AM
T.R.MacMunn T.R.MacMunn is offline
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Scott, I think you might do really well with Cottage/Cabin/RV signs in your neck of the woods. I don't know if she's still there, but there used to be a girl in Ely who did some nice work.
I'm surrounded by lakes, & I've made a lot of "cottage" signs over the years. It took me a while to get my pricing to where I was the most expensive guy around, but I also offer the best, c/w a warranty. There's more $$$ in commercial signs, but only because it often takes less time to design & complete the sale of a $3000 sign than it does a $300 sign.
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Old 04-04-2017, 12:01 PM
NorthernMN NorthernMN is offline
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The plan is to start small with these cabin signs and also dabble in interior signs as well. See where things go and move from there. At this time it will be a side business to run at nights and weekends, also a good way to sell the wife on getting a CNC.
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  #7  
Old 04-04-2017, 05:32 PM
Art Mann Art Mann is offline
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In my world, cabin signs and RV signs aren't subject to the same environment. Unless the owner is a rare full timer, RV signs are used maybe 30-40 days a year (in my case) and typically in good weather. Cabin signs sit out in the worst of the weather all year long. I use Eastern Red Cedar to make camping signs and they have a life of many, many years finished with nothing more than Spar varnish. On the other hand, clear coated wooden signs don't stay nice but a year or so where I live no matter what finish you put on them.

I have people who only want natural wood signs in a clear finish. I will certainly sell them what they want. I will tell them the limitations and refinish requirements and the rest is their problem.

I also cut signs out of construction grade 3/4 and 1 inch PVC sheets. I prefer Versatex brand. This material will hold up with acrylic paint practically forever. This stuff cuts easy, its durable and holds a sharp edge. That would be a good material to start on because of its ease of use. It is a lot cheaper and more robust than HDU in the small sign application.
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  #8  
Old 04-04-2017, 05:45 PM
T.R.MacMunn T.R.MacMunn is offline
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Good point, Art .... yes, RV signs aren't out in the elements much.
I've never used PVC. I like to sandblast & I like to handcarve appliques, , so I've stuck with cedar & HDU.
I DID do a RV sign a couple of years back, & I DID use a natural finish on it,, but just for the border & back. Pic is attached. They also wanted a heavy steel "step-stake" so it could be mounted anywhere on their campsite.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg FBHarris.jpg (96.5 KB, 67 views)
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  #9  
Old 04-04-2017, 10:46 PM
NorthernMN NorthernMN is offline
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In our area, I bet 85% of the campground business is people that rent the site for the season, ours hasn't moved in 4 years. Some are of our neighbors have been there 15 years. Most of the people with signs never take them down even when leaving for the winter.
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  #10  
Old 04-05-2017, 03:36 AM
T.R.MacMunn T.R.MacMunn is offline
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Scott ... how are they mounting them? If on the side of the trailer, there's a product called "PanelClips", made by Brooklyn Industries in Brooklyn OR. Makes it easy to take them down for the off-season, but still relatively secure .
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