Here’s the ivory highlight being sprayed through the same shield used for sandblasting the plank effect.
Sandblast: 1.5 hours We began by blasting 1/8 to ¼ in. into the sign face, using an 8-in.-wide metal shield to simulate wood planks. Then we repeated the process using the Grain-Fraim and the metal shield to add the woodgrain texture.
Mask for blasting: 2 hours We applied high-tack sandblast mask to the HDU then hand cut the letters.
Install letters: 1 hour We mounted the ¾-in. white PVC letters to the sign face, using silicone as an adhesive and screws from the back.
Apply surface finish colors: 3 hours With the spraying out of the way, we went on to paint the letter surfaces and borders. Once dry, the entire sign was sprayed with PPG clear coat.
Once the mask was removed from the borders, the woodgrain effect was complete.
Spray paint: 1 hour We sprayed a cedar color as a base, and followed by spraying black and ivory highlight colors to simulate natural cedar finish.
The darker highlights were also prayed using the shield, and additional dark highlights were sprayed down the center of random planks.

What’s it cost to produce this 5-by-12-ft. storefront sign?

Blasting through a shield creates an interesting plank background

By Braun Bleamer

Posted on Saturday, December 31st, 2016

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5-by-10 panel of 1.5-in.
15-lb. Sign-Foam HDU: $525
Black Beauty abrasive: $40
30-mil sandblast mask: $100
Primer and paint: $75
PPG clear coat: $100
¾-in. CNC-cut PVC letters: $150
Fasteners and hardware: $25
Total materials: $1015

Design and plan: 1 hour
Assemble/cut panel: 2 hours
Mask for blasting: 2 hours
Sandblast: 1.5 hours
Spray paint: 1 hour
Apply finish colors: 3 hours
Spray PPG clear coat:: .5 hours
Install letters: 1 hour
Delivery/installation: 2 hours
Total man hours: 13 hours
This sign was for a small coffee shop at a nearby ski resort. They wanted a 3D sign that would create a warm, appealing look. I knew that cutout letters and an interesting shape would help achieve that, but I also thought that the texture and look of wood would add a lot.

We began by cutting the top left corner off the 5-by-10-ft. sheet of HDU board. We used it as an extension for the right end of the panel to get a little extra length. We bonded it to the main panel with epoxy then sanded the face smooth. We laid out the tree line using an overhead projector, then cut it using a ¼-in. Roto-Zip bit in a hand-held router.

I had planned to make the sign from HDU board and wanted to create the look of a background made of individual textured wood planks. I made a metal shield that was 8-in. wide to use as a template for the boards.

As I blasted, I moved it down the panel, creating one board at a time. I intentionally blasted the boards to slightly different depths. Then I blasted them each a second time, this time with the Grain-Fraim placed over the metal shield to simulate wood grain on each plank.

The blasting technique alone isn’t enough to create a realistic wood look. Spray painting highlights of black and ivory over the cedar brown base helps create a weathered appearance and enhances the texture. It doesn’t add much production time, either.

The plank effect turned out to be a practical way to bring the look and feel of wood to the project without the weight and fabrication time of using rough sawn boards. It made the installation very manageable and kept costs in line. The sign was so effective that they ordered a second sign just like it for the other side of the building.

Braun Bleamer’s shop, Jet Signs Inc., is in Palmerton, Pennsylvania.

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