Our Timbers - A Sign Maker Guide To Timber Selection
Each timber we use at The Sign Maker has a unique quality about it. While some timbers are perfect for a traditional sign or memorial, others celebrate a modern use of wooden materials; both have their place in our workshop! You might find yourself wondering how you go about choosing or identifying timber.
This handy blog post should help you navigate our selection of timbers, and enable you to make the right choice (though if you have any doubt - don't hesitate to ask our experienced team for advice).
English Oak is perhaps the most traditional choice of all our timbers. Majestic and utilised for generations, it is hard to compete with English Oak when it comes to reputation. In terms of appearance, pieces of Oak can vary due to the changeable grain, texture, pin knots and burrs that feature.
This heavy and durable hardwood is suitable for a wide variety of signs including house signs, entrance signs and even memorials too. English Oak does require maintenance as water can cause the grain to blacken when it finds its way into the heart of the timber.
Known to be one of the most extraordinary hardwoods that the world has to offer, Sapele has a dazzling quality. The rich red tones give Sapele a mahogany appearance - something to be marvelled at. However, unlike other materials, this exceptional hardwood has less movement within the timber itself, giving it the durability that it is known for. If you're looking for a good value sign, potentially one finished with paint, then Sapele may be the best timber choice for you.
Varying from golden to chocolate brown, there is a lot to love about Iroko - more so than just its distinctive appearance. The density of Iroko is what helps it to stand out against other timbers - making it a great choice for an outdoor sign. This strong and durable hardwood is naturally oily which means that even without maintenance, Iroko keeps a great quality about it. You may find that silver-like tones begin to emerge in the timber, but we think even this can look quite attractive.
Douglas Fir is a Sign Maker favourite and known to us as the durable choice. While this timber is beautiful to look at (deep red and burnt orange tones running through the grain), given that Douglas Fir is a softwood, it still (comparatively) holds up well in most circumstances. Strong, practical and water-resistant, Douglas Fir continues to make a name for itself. If you're looking for a sign that may be exposed to the elements, you may like to consider Douglas Fir as the timber for you.
Cherry timber signs are a little less common, but we are proud to craft with this material. The close grain makes it more resistant to shrinkage and, unlike some signs, the timber improves in appearance with age (the sunlight enhances the colour of the timber beautifully). Cherry wood needs to be maintained to keep it looking its best - but we can advise on oil treatments to help you give your sign the life that it deserves!
The chestnut timber we use for our house signs is all grown locally in the southwest (we're situated in the heart of North Devon, so not all too far from us). Consequently, and as a result of often being grown in coppiced woodlands, Chestnut can be considered a more sustainable choice. for a sign or memorial from The Sign Maker. Chestnut makes for an interesting alternative to Oak. Though similar in appearance, Chestnut is known to be lower in cost and just as durable due to its high tannin content.
Imported from Canada, we often use our red cedar timber for larger business signs as it requires less maintenance than other timbers as is, by nature, thicker. Like chestnut, red cedar's higher tannin content gives these signs a better chance against weathering. You can expect to get many years of use from timber like this. Some choose to oil a red cedar sign for a rich finish, while others prefer allowing it to weather naturally - either way, this is a timber that we find ourselves recommending from time to time.
If you're unsure, please do get in touch with our team for some advice.
While we don't make too many signs using Opepe, stocking this timber gives you access to a timber with many unique qualities; most notably, its distinctive colour. Opepe is a good choice of timber because it is an exceptionally strong, durable and naturally oily material. The interlocked grain produces some interesting patterns in the timber surface. Coarse to the touch due to large pores, the timber is renowned for its practical usage as opposed to sign carpentry, but we still find it makes some fantastic signage.
While Balau would often be used for heavy construction, we have found that this timber can also be crafted into some beautiful signage. Despite some occasional disturbances to the timber in the form of pinholes, the longevity of these signs is not affected, which is why we still back Balau as a timber. Durable, dense and naturally oily with some colour variation, the Balau timber itself is beautiful to work with and may be just what you're after. Rest assured that our carpenters will select a piece of timber that showcases your design.
We have found that Accoya is the perfect timber selection for painted signs. The process of acetylation (a non-toxic process which changes the chemical structure of the timber) makes this high-performance wood more stable and durable, almost eliminating Accoya's ability to absorb water. Therefore Accoya makes for the perfect outdoor signage, and this material holds paint particularly well.
Accoya is also a fantastic choice for those who are looking for a sustainable sign as the timber itself in its infancy is fast growing. We are proud to offer several sustainable timbers in addition to crafting each product at The Sign Maker in line with our sustainable ethos.
Still unsure which timber is right for you? Get In Touch!
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