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Thread: Composite Wood?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Charlotte, Vermont
    Posts
    12

    Default Composite Wood?

    I'm starting sign carving as a part of my business. I recently saw a company stating they use a "waterproof wood composite that won't absorb water and will not rot." So I'm wondering other than teak, fir and mahogany what this material might be, where you are buying it and what your experience is with its performance. Am I correct in assuming that it also might dull our cutting bits less slowly?

    Thanks.
    Rich Ahrens
    Building Character
    Charlotte, Vermont

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by richahrens View Post
    I'm starting sign carving as a part of my business. I recently saw a company stating they use a "waterproof wood composite that won't absorb water and will not rot." So I'm wondering other than teak, fir and mahogany what this material might be, where you are buying it and what your experience is with its performance. Am I correct in assuming that it also might dull our cutting bits less slowly?

    Thanks.
    Maybe Color-Core HDPE? Pricey but good stuff.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    379

    Default

    Take a look at HDU and PVC materials. They can be used for dimensional signs. Both materials carve great and when treated properly will last a very long time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Elgin Illinois
    Posts
    655

    Default

    Rich, based on your description, I would guess you may be looking at something like Miratec.
    https://www.miratectrim.com/miratec-...EALw_wcB#sizes
    From what I see, it's maximum available width is 16 inches.

    I once tried some for trim, without CNC machining it. Because it seemed like inherently flimsy material (being shredded fibers and glue), I never tested it out for CNC machining.

    Chuck
    Chuck Keysor (circa 1956)
    PRT Alpha 60" x 144" (circa 2004)
    Columbo 5HP spindle
    Aspire 9.0, Rhino 5

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Garland Tx
    Posts
    2,175

    Default

    http://www.extira.com/

    http://www.talkshopbot.com/forum/sho...ghlight=extira


    I can’t recommend this product for long term signage… our experience is a couple of years at best!

    SG

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Charlotte, Vermont
    Posts
    12

    Default

    Interesting. Thanks for the replies. I'm kind of a purist but favor a wood composite by far over PVC if given a choice. I'd expect PVC to be flimsy but there are likely lots of products out there I've never encountered. I see extira is made by Jeld Wen and many of their products are at my local lumber yard. I'll ask if they can get it. With a ten year warranty it must be a decent candidate. I've never heard of HDU. I was hoping there was a simple "go to" as an industry standard!
    Rich Ahrens
    Building Character
    Charlotte, Vermont

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Garland Tx
    Posts
    2,175

    Default

    Rich…

    A little history may be in order…
    There was a time when the go-to material for outdoor signage was Red wood… it was a fantastic material, and still is if your customer is willing to pay!

    In an effort to be competitive and to use materials available locally, many other woods were tried… western cedar works for some applications, white oak if you maintain the finish regularly and even some exotics available in limited quantities and areas can have their use!

    It seemed like the sign makers prayers were answered when HDU came along! High Density Urethane foam became available in sizes that didn’t require glue-ups, was light weight and easy to handle and machined well! The perfect sign material… until the first hail storm!

    PVC has been around awhile… its reputation was nearly ruined by attempts to make it lighter and less expensive… the foamed PVC’s like Sintra© and others work well for interior, well supported lettering, but not at all for dimensional letters. Its interior is open cell and a completely different texture from the surface skin. Colors fade with UV exposure and it’s available in very limited thicknesses.

    Some of us have rediscovered solid type 1 mechanical grade PVC. It’s consistent in density, UV stable and readily available at plastic supply houses and sign supply dealers. It’s expensive. My tendency, lately, has been to mechanically fasten 3D PVC letters to a western cedar background. Others will fabricate the entire sign from PVC. It only comes in white or black but paints well with any paint intended for plastics. PVC solvent welds well, but plumbers glues aren’t ideal for this application… some like a PVC glue made by Gorilla.

    I’m sure my limited experience has caused me to omit some history and I welcome input by others!

    SG

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Pro Signs, Coal CIty IL
    Posts
    267

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    Here's an example of HDU. Just finished painting it yesterday. I'm trying to get away from HDU, but this particular customer insisted on HDU as it is going right next to another HDU sign and he was set on keeping the same material. This one is also 106" wide, again to match the other sign, so I had to join a piece on the end. My CNC is 48x96. I spliced it at the logo on the left. Unless you know what you're looking for and look real close, it isn't noticeable, especially in the area where it will be installed.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Blaine Mn
    Posts
    298

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    This is a 4x10 foot sign I made a couple years ago- last year we had a nasty hail storm and you see the damage done- the sign was done using Duma HDU [Corafoam], except for the letter 'C' which was another brand I wanted to use up. The sign was built on an aluminum tube backbone and then a sheet of Composite alum/plastic, the white was 1" PVC. The hail pounded out the windows on the West side [where the sign is] and did 3 million dollars in my homeowners association alone. They are still fixing storm damage here. It is 12' up, too far for an oldphart, so I have not looked really closely but if it was not for the 'C' I would just repaint it.
    Just for reference. Gene

    DSC00981.jpg

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Charlotte, Vermont
    Posts
    12

    Default

    Thanks, for this info everyone! I need to learn this stuff from veteran builders like yourselves.

    Being in New England, my intention is to make "traditional" carved signs but wood is indeed dearly priced. I was at Chatham Carved Sign on Cape Cod last week and was shocked at the prices they get for small, house numbers which I can easily make already on my ShopBot Buddy. They are the ones who say they use the composite I referenced above so it seemed to a neophyte that I should research and use the same.

    Please keep the info coming. This week I got some One Shot paint to use on my first pieces. The above specs they prime twice and put on three coats.
    Rich Ahrens
    Building Character
    Charlotte, Vermont

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