Inventables Community Forum

Large Signs - Sourcing the Wood?

Apologies, I feel like I should be able to figure this one out, but not having a lot of luck.
I’ve made several small wood projects with my X-Carve, and it’s been great. I’ve been approached by some family friends to create some large-ish signs, for businesses that they’re starting. No sweat, I put together some nice graphics in Illustrator, chopped them into 30"x30" pieces that I can put together…but I’m having trouble sourcing the wood for this.

I’d like to use cedar, I think it will stand up in the outdoors better than cheap pine. But I haven’t a clue where to find 30x30 inch boards of cedar, or of any wood, locally. No luck at my local Lowes and HD. I see large wood signs all around me, that appear to be contiguous pieces; where are people getting the raw material?

Thanks for any suggestions, I’m sure the solution is right in front of me! :slight_smile:

I doubt you will find any 30 inch pieces of wood as a single panel. That would be a very big tree. What you probably want to look for is 4X8 foot sheets of plywood or glue panels up. You can use 1X8 to 1X12 and glue them along the side grain of the panel. For that large a sheet you probably want to alternate end grain patterns or you will likely get some significant warping.

You will want to let the wood you buy sit in your shop for a few weeks to months to make sure it is dry. Otherwise you will likely get more significant warping.

Good luck. Hope you figure this out and get the panels done. If so, please post them so we can see the results of your handywork.

Hi Ray I own a portable sawmill business and sell cedar… most common wood I mill. I would try a local sawmiller, I am sure they can help you out.

Thanks for the quick responses, yeah, it occurred to me that tree size has to limit things, somewhere. I have considered plywood…would birch ply work well for sign work? I’ve used it for door monograms, and while the final result was pretty good, it does want to chip on me more than solid wood.

I’ll see if there are some local sawmills with some options. The process of gluing panels up sounds more time-consuming than I have to spend on this project. My local Lowes had some pre-glued panels that I may go have a 2nd look at, to see if they are suitable.

You can use spiral DOWNCUT bits to avoid chipping the top veneer. Works very well. And yes you can us birch, oak, maple etc. Lowes should have birch and oak for sure. My Home Depot has maple also.

Gluing up panels isn’t too hard. I did it for the first time in my life just recently. I watched all sorts of videos and tutorials and thought it was gonna be terrible and come out warped. It was a ton easier than I thought it would be. I didn’t have nice pipe clamps or a jointer and it still turned out really well. I guess I was lucky that the boards I bought from lowes had edges that didn’t need jointed in order to get a good fit.

This video is excellent, thanks for sharing. I learned a bunch…

@RayNeel

Where do you live? I find that location often dictates the type of lumber that is readily available.

I am in the same spot as Ray, I live in SW FL and there are not many lumbermills in these parts. I am looking to do one of the chairs, but Id rather use a solid cherry or like material and need a couple 30x30 slabs. I am worried if I glue a few together that the week spot would be in a seam. I just don’t like the look of the plywood. any suggestions?

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for starters , you will a bunch of bar clamps and plenty of glue . in 24 hours you will have glued up piece of your desired size.

The glue joint will hold more then the rest of the wood if it is done right.

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As others have mentioned, lumber does not come in that size because trees are not that big typically. Also the larger a single piece is, guaranteed its going to be more expensive i.e; slabs. You can achieve the dimensions you want and save money by joining boards together. You’re going to want to google search for “Hardwood dealer near me.” They are all across the country. In fact im going to my local hardwood dealer tomorrow, Macbeth Hardwoods to pick up 60 feet of 8/4 alder which I will cut to length, join one side, plain to final thickness, and glue together using bar clamps making 15 guitar body blanks which I will then use my xcarve to cut out.

Also some one said they were concerned about a glue join being a weak spot. Thats not the case. A proper glue join is absolutely stronger than the wood itself. If a glue join fails, that is because it was poorly joined, operator error!

also I just realized this thread is 5 years old lol…

I googled hardwood dealer in florida and found http://www.alva-hardwoods.com/ which seems to be in the SW of the state. Also like i said in my other reply, a glue join is stronger than the wood itself.

Thanks for your time! I’ll check out Alva.

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Just a thought - I’ve done some signs 30 x 48" for outdoors and if you can get some HDU board 1" thick - it comes in 4 by 8 sheets. Cuts like butter and won’t warp or crack like wood, it is a bit pricy I think I paid $200 for a sheet, but was way worth it!