Posted on Friday, February 17th, 2017
You can sandblast HDU board and get an interesting pebble texture, or you can blast through a grain simulator like the GrainFraim grain simulator [under Products on their site] and get a woodgrain effect. Here’s a twist on that, which gives you the look of barn wood planks, from Braun Bleamer, Jet Signs, Palmerton, Pennsylvania.
Rather than a woodgrain background with an even texture, Braun creates the look of individual planks that vary in thickness. He heightens the effect by using a base coat plus two additional colors to add shadows and highlights. It goes faster than you think.
Braun tack welds a shield together from 1/8-in. steel that’s the size of the plank he wants to simulate, which was 8 inches here. Then he marks the sandblast stencil borders with a felt-tipped pen in 8-in. increments. Working from the center of the sign, he sandblasts the background, which was cut from a sheet of 1½-in. HDU board, moving the template along as he goes—but overlapping the previous blast by ¼-in. to create a deeper joint between the “planks.” He blasts the sections to varying depths, making sure to create obvious differences between the planks.
Once the planks have been created, he starts over at the beginning and sandblasts each one through the GrainFraim placed over his template. This quickly adds the woodgrain texture because he’s already blasted to the desired depth. He uses different sections of the GrainFraim to vary the grain effect from plank to plank.
After blasting, Braun applies the base coat—in this case a cedar tone acrylic latex paint. Once dry, he again positions the template over each plank and sprays an ivory highlight down the edge of the plank.
Next, he uses a mix of bronze with a little black added to spray a shadow area the length of each plank. Some fell at the edge of a plank; others were more towards the center of a plank.
“It only took about 15 minutes to spray those highlights and shadows,” says Braun, “and you really need this to make the effect work. Photos don’t do it justice.”
Once the background was finished, he removed the masking and painted the letters and borders. Braun mounted the letters, which had been cut from ¾-in. white PVC board. To add even more dimension, the letters that had been masked and blasted on the background were slightly larger than the cutout letters, creating an outline behind the white letters.
You’ll find more details on how this sign came together, including the actual time and material cost, in What’s It Cost to Produce This 5-by-12-ft. Storefront Sign in the January/February 2017 issue of SignCraft, which is also available on our website.