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Sandblasted signs - How they are made by Sign Design and Fabrication Sign Design and Fabrication Logo

Custom Sandblasted Signs - How They Are Made

There are many steps taken in the fabrication of custom sandblasted signs. Once you have completed the design process and approved the layout, the fabrication begins. Here is how it is done.

Step One >

Constructing The Sign Blank

A "Sign Blank" is the basic shape of a sign before the sandblasting process.

Wooden Signs are made from clear grade lumber. The lumber is treated under extreme conditions to prevent warping and checking. Only a few select boards make it through the intense kiln conditions.

HDU Sign Foam Signs are fabricated from open celled high density urethane (HDU). HDU SignFoam III is extremely versatile. For projects that require a wood texture, we offer a simulated wood grain that is predictable and realistic. Keep in mind that many textures and finishes can be reproduced in SignFoam III.

cnc router table cutting sandblasted sign blank

We use one of our several cnc router tables to perfectly
cut each sandblasted sign blank.

Step Two >

Masking The Sign Blank

The dimensional effect in sandblasted signs is created by blasting a sign blank covered by a rubber mask. A rubber mask is cut from the digital design. The sections of the sign which are to be sandblasted are removed from the mask, protecting the raised areas and exposing the areas to be sandblasted.

sign foam sign blanks with rubber sandblast stencil applied

An example of two HDU sandblasted signs with the
protective sandblast stencils applied, ready to go in the blast booth.

Step Three >

The Sandblasting Process

Sandblasting is an art form of its own. Cool, dry air is collected in a tank of sand at extreme pressure. The air and sand mixture is then forced through a ceramic nozzle, stripping away everything in its path.

The rubber mask protects areas of the sign blank by not permitting exposure to the blast mixture, which simply bounces off. The exposed areas are eaten away, leaving beautiful natural patterns in wood, and sand textured surfaces in foam. After sandblasting the sign blank, it is cleaned and prepared for the priming and finishing processes.

wooden sandblasted sign after blasting with blast mask still applied

A typical example of a cedar sandblasted sign after blasting
with the sandblast stencil still on.

Step Four >

Priming The Sign Blank

Blasted sign blanks are primed according to their application. All sign applications have different finishing requirements. To ensure years of use, each of our products is treated accordingly. Raw sandblasted signs are rough and require several coats of primer to create a proper seal. Each layer is applied thin, allowed to dry, and sanded smooth. This process builds up a layer of primer that creates a strong barrier against weather elements.

Keep in mind that not all signs need to be primed. Natural wooden signs are beautiful and rich in detail. We offer a variety of natural finishes and stains.

signfoam sandblasted sign after sign priming

A multiple level sandblasted sign in Sign Foam
after our triple automotive primer coat application.

Step Five >

Finishing The Sandblasted Sign

Proper signage is an investment that should last. We realize the finishing stage is crucial in producing a sign that is maintenance free and will endure years of use. In addition to commercial grade enamels, we also have a wide variety of stains and clear coats.

hand-painted sandblasted sign trout

A sandblasted trout farm in high density urethane with
hand-painted rainbow trout.