Mill the boards: 60 minutes I buy beautiful clear western red cedar in the rough, 2-in. thick and 8-in. wide, net, then mill them to about 1¾-in. thick. A 12-ft. board costs about $150, but it is worth it. I tend to be fussy about my work, even prepping and milling the boards.
Lay up the panel: 20 minutes I coat each edge with Titebond III glue, then clamp the boards together. On a sign this size, I use two bar clamps on the bottom and one on top. This photo shows a different panel about the same size clamped up.
Sandblasting: 30 minutes I sandblast with 40-grit glass beads. It’s pretty aggressive. It cuts fairly deep and gives a nice effect on high density urethane board, too. It’s
Here’s the blasted panel after peeling the stencil off the letter and graphics portion. I like to use a halo blast or pillow blast, blasting deeper around the borders and graphics. It’s such a nice effect and it really adds to the dimension.
Fill and sand: 30 minutes Once I peel off the stencil, I patch any tear-outs and sand the graphics. I’m especially careful to get areas that will be gilded as smooth as possible.
Router-carve and paint the letters: 90 minutes The letters were CNC-carved from PVC board, so they’re fairly rigid. I used two coats of Jay Cooke’s Sign Primer followed by 1 Shot enamel to get a nice surface for gilding.
I did a quick dry fit of the letters just to see how they would look.
Paint the panel: 2 hours I use two coats of primer on the cedar panel, followed by two coats of Benjamin Moore exterior acrylic paint. When I need a very intense color I use Nova Paint.
Gild the letters: 60 minutes I use LeFranc slow size and 23K patent gold leaf. It’s easier than loose gold for me to handle and it looks great. I usually put the size on in the afternoon and let it dry for about 20 hours before I give it the knuckle test to see if it’s ready to gild.
Gild borders: 20 minutes It took about 20 minutes to do the borders and clean up. There’s usually a little bit of stray gold that sticks in the border paint, so I touch that up. The sign was mounted on custom iron brackets that were mounted on the gate.

What’s it cost to produce this 24-by-30-in. sandblasted sign?

The classic look of western red cedar, gold leaf and paint

By Noëlla Cotnam

Posted on Monday, December 16th, 2019

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Western red cedar: $250
(material, shipping, planing and joining)
Sandblast mask: $65
Gold leaf: $85
Paint and misc: $50
Total materials: $450 CDN (About $340 US)

Design and prep file: 3 hours
Lay up, cut panel: 80 minutes
Sandblast panel: 30 minutes
Painting: 2 ½ hours
Router-carve letters: 90 minutes
Gilding: 80 minutes
Total time: about 10 hours

It’s always nice when a customer comes to you because they have seen your work and want one of your signs. This is one of those signs.

Much of my work is custom signs for farms and residences so this is a very typical project for me—a 24-by-30-in. sandblasted western red cedar sign with prismatic carved letters finished with gold leaf.

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