Inventables Community Forum

Painting engraved letters?

Does any one have a good way to paint engraved letters for a clean look ? Here is what I have been doing so far …
1.make my carve
2.spray the entire piece with about 2-3 coats of semi gloss polyurethane
3.let polyurethane dry
4.paint letting with one shot sign paint
5.let paint dry
6.sand the surface

This does an ok job but not perfect sometimes I can still see a bit of pint bleed on the edge of the carve . Also when staining after sanding I get some weird ugly looking splotches/spots the stain just doesn’t have a nice consistent look as to staining a piece without ever spraying polyurethane on it. Even though I try to sand all the poly off

For bare of stained wood that I carve letters in, I use Phil’s method with shellac, then a good oil paint. Before the paint drys wipe away with a rag with mineral spirits on it, then wipe again with a dry rag. After it dries go back over and wipe again to get any small details you missed

For wood that is painted before I carve, I use oramask 813. Best masking film I’ve used. No need to sand, just peel the film off then clear coat. Oramask leaves no sticky residue behind.

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As for staining, I stain bare wood. Use an old rag or shop towel to wipe the surface for an even coat with no spots.

Thanks! Shellac works better than polyurethane?

The trick is to use Shellac and then wipe the paint off the surface before it dries.


I’d stain first then coat with Shellac/Poly and then paint the letters wiping off the paint before it dries as others have suggested.

Thanks. I have tried that method and it seems to work best.

Awesome will do thanks Phil!

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For what it’s worth, I just tried the masking that Inventables sells. I put over new, but cured paint, and used a roller to press it on good. It was a worthless exercise. I may try some other masking in the future, but I can’t recommend this one.

I have been a professional engraver for years with mini CNC type xyz axis but just for cutting metals. Coloring can be tricky. Check out Johnson Plastics “Engravers Bible”. It’s free online on their site and has many fill and engraving techniques/tricks.
I see what you are doing as popular but you may want to get a syringe and craft paint and try the injection method mentioned. This works well with metals
I hope this helps friend!

Yes you are right, on wood and as described its not practical if you have to fill up a deep large sign.
I’d love to hear what works best. I want to do some local lakes maps.
I think the spray and sand will be great. Do check out the Johnsons
Engravers bible. They cover most materials.
Thanks for your reply to my suggestion
Have a nice weekend

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I do the same with good results. However instead of Poly I use wax free shellac. It penetrates a lot more than poly and you can apply any type of paint onto it. Oil base, water base etc. You do not get bleed thru.

I just tried your technique with spray paint bc I’m impatient and it also works.

Im gonna try the syringe thing for injecting colored resin.

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Small box fan from Walmart, cardboard made in to a funnel, then cheap exhaust drier vent tube make an awesome cheap vent system.

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I live in the great state of California witch has out lawed mineral spirits. Any ideas on what to use instead of mineral spirits?

Yep We don’t even have real lacquer thinner anymore.

Thanks Phil. I looked awhile back and CA didn’t Have anything. They most have started rolling out this new stuff I will give it try.

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That is almost the same as new england, we just have 2, winter and construction.

Come to Kentucky. This spring we had 35° one day, next day 75°, snow, rain, and tornado warning…all in a 24 hour period lol. Then back to freezing temps. That happened 3-4 times