Different signs can have different requirements.
When we choose a material for an outdoor sign several factors have to
be taken into consideration. If the sign will have natural finished
areas the grain and color will be factors weatherability and rot resistance
will also be a factor. At Signsalive.net our first choices for wood
are generally central American and African hardwoods.
Mahogany and Teak
These species of hardwood are very rot
resistant have a beautiful grain and are very good to machine and carve.
Central American and African hardwoods have a very dense and consistent
grain hold a finish well and are resistant to checking as well as most
insects. An exception to this would be Teakwood. While teakwood is a
very tough wood and resist rot better than any other, the wood is very
oily and has difficulty holding a Clear finish. Teakwood also has a
tendency to turn gray very quickly without a finish. Mahogany on the
other hand holds clear finishes well, machines well has great weatherability
and is excellent for vee carving and cnc relief sculpture and carving.
OAK and Walnut
Oak is a very good wood to use in signs
but one has to very careful to finish the end grain very carefully as
the wood has a very bad tendency to check at the end grain on plank
ends. Oak is best painted unless used indoors. Walnut is a very nice
sign wood which has a very rich and tight grain. Walnut holds a finish
well and tends to be a very stable wood, its is a wood you see a lot
in unsticks and fine furniture. Walnut machines very well and is an
excellent wood for vee carving and cnc relief sculpture. Walnut and
Oak can hold fasteners very well
Pinewood and Red Cedar
Pinewood can be used in signs but it should
be treated for rot and be finished with paint very carefully. Bugs and
organisms like pinewood and consider it a very good food so you have
to be careful how you use it. Pine has a very loose and soft grain which
has a tendency to splinter and pull out so its usefulness as a carving
and machining wood is limited. Pinewood also has pockets of resin and
saps which can make machining difficult and inconsistent. The savings
grace of pine is that it is very cheap and plentiful. Other shortcomings
of pine are its limited ability to hold fasteners. Red Cedar is a good
sign wood and is well suited for sandblasted signs. Cedar however is
an extremely soft wood and is not suited for high stress loads. Cedars
grain tends to be soft and stringy and great care must be taken when
carving it. The rot and insect resistance of Cedar is very good however.
Cedar has a nice color and appearance and will hold a finish well.