Help Request: Finishing

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Forum topic by PNW posted 12-04-2020 05:58 PM 291 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 57 days

12-04-2020 05:58 PM

Hello and Thank You!

After multiple failed wood finishes over the last 4 years I am hoping to do this one right. I am in the process of creating a small botanical garden for a county park and creating plant identification markers for each of the approximately 200 plants. The steps I have taken are:

Make tree cookies and dry them
Dremel out plant names onto the cookies
Paint inside dremel lines in black

Now I will sand off the top and excess paint to clean them up
Finish them with something (this is where I need help)
Attach them to a stake with screws and put in garden next spring

None of the park furniture I have refinished over the last 4 years has lasted how I have wanted it to. These signs would be outside for most of the year exposed to weather and also irrigation. If anyone could give me a head start on what product to look for to make these last since they are so tedious for me to make I would greatly appreciate it. I was planning on having the finish be clear or just a slght tint as long as the words are distinct for park visitors. I have read that some of the coatings are affected by UV light.

It would be no problem for me to pull out the signs and dip them into some type of product every couple of years. It would be too much of a workload to do sanding and refinishing etc for the staff here. Let me know any futher information that might be helpful. Thank you!

The attached picture has not been sanded yet to clean up to clean up the lettering.


4 replies so far

View Robert's profile


4330 posts in 2456 days

#1 posted 12-04-2020 06:23 PM

Anything applicable to a boat. Can’t miss with epoxy

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View LesB's profile


2798 posts in 4419 days

#2 posted 12-04-2020 07:09 PM

I like your idea but to start all finishes are affected by UV light and there is no clear finish will last more than 2 to 4 years when exposed to the elements. You did not indicate you location so local climate can make a big difference.

Completely coating in epoxy may last longer but would be problematic to apply. In many cases just a clear oil type finish might be the best because most others will need to be scraped off and sanded to renew them. My suggestion here would be a clear deck finish. Next would be boiled linseed oil (BLO).

Next, what type of wood are you using and will it stand up and not rot quickly. Cedar would be a good suggestion here. Keeping the bark on may be another problem as the wood cycles from wet to dry with the seasons.

In general I think you may need to think about completely replacing the signs every few years as the best option rather than trying to refinish them.

Hopefully someone may have some better ideas.

-- Les B, Oregon

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2822 posts in 1138 days

#3 posted 12-05-2020 03:33 AM

if the budget would support a financial investment, I would make a prototype
pattern piece and have it reproduced in High Density Urethane (HDU)
the engraved names will always retain their shape and it will NEVER rot.
there is no open grain – so the paint can not wick into the faux wood sign.
all the lettering will remain crisp and easy to read.
a group of volunteers can hand paint them when needed.
this is an example of a street sign I did a few years ago and made hundreds of copies from it.
a wood sign is meticulously hand crafted for the pattern piece. then, a rubber mold is made and
hundreds of copies are made from it.
(just offering an option).


-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6746 posts in 3469 days

#4 posted 12-05-2020 01:18 PM

It was brought out above, but clear finishes that last a long time just aren’t available to us mere mortals. My suggestion would be one of the true marine spar varnishes (not a box store brand) like Epifanes or one of the other quality names. This past summer I used one called McCloskey’s Man O War spar on a redwood glider, and after one summer it has done well. But any of these are oil based, and will some of the amber color. Jst a warning, so far any of the waterborne brands I’ve tried failed miserable, and very quickly. But I have heard good things about General Finishes Exterior 450. I just haven’‘t tried it so no first hand expedience. The oil based spar varnishes will need some maintenance (re coating) every so often, but will probably give you the longest time between renewals.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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