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Forum topic by Dj1225 posted 12-14-2017 02:29 AM 1033 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Dj1225's profile


75 posts in 2992 days

12-14-2017 02:29 AM

Hi All,

Last year I built a large dining table for a client. Now they have asked me to build a picnic table for their daughters wedding. The bride wants to have a table that all the guest can leave messages and sign.

Building the table is no problem, but how do I accomplish keeping the notes and signatures from fading away.

I was thinking of building out of a wood like fur, telling everyone to us markers to sign, and then after the wedding going back and finishing with some type of durable top coat.

I have no clue if the table will be outdoors, on a porch or whatever.

Any ideas on how to keep the notes and signatures from fading away.


finishing, outdoor furniture

-- Dave

17 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4420 days

#1 posted 12-14-2017 02:42 AM

I don’t think there is any way to preserve
the writing on wood if it is left outdoors.

Even if a clear finish lasts several years
outside, eventually it will blister and peal.

If kept indoors out of direct sunlight the
writing could remain legible for decades.

Another idea is to wrap the table top in
canvas or white naughahide, collect the
signatures and remove the wrapping for

View Shamb3's profile


41 posts in 953 days

#2 posted 12-14-2017 02:48 AM

My buddy had us all wood burn our names into the top of his bar.

View Gilley23's profile


489 posts in 1154 days

#3 posted 12-14-2017 02:54 AM

Would it be possible to do like Loren said with the canvas, then take a picture of it and have the picture put onto the wood? Then finish over the picture. That way they’ll have the original canvas forever and when the table needs to be refinished down the road you’ll have a picture perfect (HAHAHA!) canvas ready to go again. Might be able to do it on something clear so you’ll still see the wood underneath.

View Gilley23's profile


489 posts in 1154 days

#4 posted 12-14-2017 02:57 AM


View bigJohninvegas's profile


773 posts in 2234 days

#5 posted 12-14-2017 03:16 AM

for out door use, a Marine epoxy coating like what would be on a bar top.
will leave it with that thick wet look. And like Loren said. With exposure to direct sunlight It won’t last forever.

-- John

View bilyo's profile


1112 posts in 1874 days

#6 posted 12-14-2017 10:19 PM

Making it out of cypress would be better than fir.

I agree with Loren; kept outdoors, it is not likely to last. However, if that is what is wanted, the best way might be to apply a coat of exterior paint base (no color added) and then use fine felt tip pens that have India ink in them (at craft or hobby stores). Or, use paint filled markers (also at craft or hobby store). Then add a second coat of the paint base. Since the exterior paint base has UV protectors, the whole system has a better chance of lasting longer (but not forever).

I also like what Shamb3 said. Signing with a fine tip wood burning tool would be almost permanent. Maybe using a Dremel with a fine dentist drill type bit would do something similar (kind of like using an electric engraving tool). My only concerns here would be safety. You might have people inexperienced in using such tools who could get burned or cut. Perhaps this could be done with some close supervision.

I wonder if the guests could sign with soft pencil or marker and then, after the wedding, you could go over the signature with a burner or dremel? Hmm. I don’t know. Is that a form of forgery? Would that take away the personal touch?

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5289 posts in 4732 days

#7 posted 12-14-2017 10:35 PM

Fur will not last. Fir needs special attention, and repeated refinishing.
In my not so humble opinion, a photo of a cover would be the treasure.

-- [email protected]

View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 1363 days

#8 posted 12-14-2017 10:58 PM

Will work, but instead of markers leave a pocket knife. People who already forgot what to di with it already have children who will remind them. You do however have to come afterwards and route out all indicent words.

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2767 days

#9 posted 12-14-2017 11:17 PM

Make the top with an inset (recessed) area. In there you could place a canvas covered thin headboard. The guests sign it in permanent marker or paint pen. It could be displayed in the table under a piece of glass, or hung on the wall indoors as a painting.

Either way the glass becomes the table surface.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View wood2woodknot's profile


108 posts in 2745 days

#10 posted 12-15-2017 01:24 AM

Bbasiaga makes good sense. Price of tempered glass might be a problem though if it’s a big table top.

-- ajh

View Dj1225's profile


75 posts in 2992 days

#11 posted 12-15-2017 01:33 AM

After many discussions. We are going to make a nice outdoor picnic table, provide felt tip pens for the guest to sign, put a coat or two of finish over the project and call it a day.

I have explained that the amount of time the inscriptions will last will largely be determined by the amount of time left in the elements. Everyone seems to be OK with this.

Thanks for all the creative advice and ideas.


-- Dave

View a1Jim's profile


118065 posts in 4349 days

#12 posted 12-15-2017 03:32 AM

I think I would make a cap that goes over the top of the table ,kinda like an upside down tray , Have the people sign it and then it could be removed and hung on a wall inside their home.


View BurlyBob's profile


7600 posts in 3037 days

#13 posted 12-15-2017 03:36 AM

I like Jim’s idea.

View richardchaos's profile


583 posts in 1152 days

#14 posted 12-15-2017 09:28 AM

I wouldn’t worry about all that. About the time the signatures fade they Divorce will be final…

-- β€œIn a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” ― George Orwell

View jonah's profile


2121 posts in 4071 days

#15 posted 12-15-2017 12:48 PM

Tell them that simply putting the table under an overhang or a cover when not in use will make the inscriptions and finish last exponentially longer, since it won’t be under constant UV exposure. UV is what does the damage.

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