Metal sign creation for outdoors.

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Old 06-30-13, 11:42 AM
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Metal sign creation for outdoors.

Hello,
I am trying to create signs for outside. Some will be lit with low watt set ups others will be nailed to walls and dead trees. I am looking for a type of metal that can stand up to the weather and not crumble apart. I have looked at brass but I need it to be 'dull and rustic' looking preferably a dark almost brown color.

Also what would be the best tools to cut the metal inside the sheets. Cutting out letters and sun/moon images, etc. I have a variable speed dremel but it does not work well on the metals I have tried it. The bits and cut off wheels will skip up or when going in the corners grind and go wreck the flat surfaces.

Thank you.
 
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Old 06-30-13, 11:55 AM
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Metal, until it rusts, won't crumble apart. 26 gauge or thicker metal may suit your purpose. However cutting characters is a difficult task as your tool will distort the metal. If you had an air nibbler, you may have better success than a jig saw or dremel. Once you find a way to cut it, using a good metal enamel will help keep it from rusting. You may want to consider aluminum, too, since it doesn't have to be painted, but that defeats your "rustic" look. Face it, "rustic" is derived from rust, so cutting bare metal and allowing it to rust would gain a good patina and will only rust until it is covered and go no further, as rust will cut the air supply off and prevent further rusting.
 
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Old 06-30-13, 12:15 PM
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Never thought of a metal enamel. I wonder if I get copper or brass and scratch the surface with a high grit sandpaper and give it a slight water downed paint will work. never heard of an air nibbler though.
 
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Old 06-30-13, 03:52 PM
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There are several type nibblers, some with opposing triple blades, and some with high speed probes. On this video, start at about 2:45 for an actual demonstration. The preamble is OK, but not what you need at this point. You just need to see how it works. Harbor Freight Air Nibbler Reveiw and Demo - YouTube

If you can afford copper and brass, you won't need to do anything to them at all for them to age out. The copper will turn a green, then bronzish color. Brass will just turn dark. Brass is not ideal for outdoors, but copper is used all the time and ages beautifully.
 
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Old 07-01-13, 01:21 PM
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Brass and copper are easy to work with and can be almost instantly aged to a dark patina with chemicals. An easy to work with material that's somewhat commonly available is copper sheet used for making gutters and flashing. You can cut it with aviation/tin snips and inside shapes like cutting a hole or other shape can be done with a coarse toothed Dremel type machining bit.
 
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