People have been asking about the coloring and technique I use for my lettering. I've attempted the Marsh Ink (endorsed by Old Dave on YouTube) it hasn't worked for me. It doesn't get in the letters well, (maybe mine are too fancy... who knows) and it takes way too long to dry, it's sticky, gumming up my sander, and I don't use a handheld belt sander. Old Dave and Eric made it look SOOO easy! lol
Anyway, I found Rit Dye. I don't have a lot of money, (Oh let's face it... I'm down right poor!) Anyway, I was looking for a way to color my lettering, and voila, there it was. It's cheap, and when done right, no worries on the sanding. (I learned this after many times of having to recut detailed work and lettering because of soaking through, or bleeding, causing me to have to sand that much more.)
1. First, after you've done your cutting, sand off any markings that may be left of your pattern. I start usually with 100; sometimes 120 if the marks are light enough. Blow off any sawdust with air compressor, or clean out lettering your normal way.
2. Check the cuts for depth. My small lines, I sometimes go over again a little deeper or use my dremel to make them deeper.
3. I usually at this point use 180, then 220, and then 3?? (I forget the exact number) if needed, to get a real nice, smooth finish. Doesn't need to be "Polished", but nice and smooth. You can do this by hand, if you want, to help avoid any excess removal of detailed cuts. (If you've only cut large letters, and have no shallow cuts, use the power sander and sand away lol) Blow out any sawdust in the lettering. This sanding will almost act as a "treatment" to the wood, or as a 'wax' for lack of better terminology. The smoother it is, it's like the dye can't get into the wood; it just sits on top. I hope that makes sense.
Before you even start this next portion, be sure (at least for signs; or those that you plan on staining) to use Minwax Wood Conditioner on your sign... all I can say about this product is WOW - the difference it made in how the stain took to the sign was nothing short of astonishing. But that's a topic for another time lol Follow the directions, then proceed from here.
4. Be sure all sawdust is removed, either by brush or air. I use artist brushes for filling in my letters, to make sure I get good coverage, but I've put the Rit Dye in one of those little air brushes (Thinned, a bit, of course) and airbrushed it on as well, although I find I like using my artist brushes. Less clean up (sanding). I also usually use a squared brush (the kind for 'dry brushing' effect) because I have the best control. Paint the letters as though you're painting a picture by number, really. I've slopped it on, but then had lots to take off later, so I've learned to paint it on, without worry, just not as sloppy. ***I'll interject here, that there's no need to thin the Rit Dye. Use it full strength, shaking it well. If you want to add a touch of water, you can, but I rarely do, unless I get a bottle that is particularly gloopy***
, which I've noticed Rit has either been getting lazy with their mix, or what I'm getting at the store is old, or something. Also, I usually just pour it into the cap, or one of those tiny plastic dollar store food containers with a lid when doing a large project. (You know, the ones you see that are so little, you wonder "what the hell would fit in that tiny thing! It won't even hold a potato chip!")
5. The more you put on, the longer to dry.... so don't overuse. I usually let it dry for about 15 minutes, maybe? Sometimes quicker, because I've only gotten a little bit outside the lettering. When you can touch it and it's either barely damp or has that "almost there" feeling, you should be able to sand off the excess from around your lettering. (*Wait... before you go any further, be sure there's no 'pooling' of the dye in your letters. If there is, use a paper towel or something to get out the excess or you're gonna have a huge mess when you blow out your sawdust at the end of this step. Believe me... I know
*) This is where I'll use the 100 or 120 so I can make quick work of it, but I've used up to 220 I think, when I was too lazy to look for a rougher grit. If you've gotten the wood to a real smooth surface, the dye will come right off with no effort at all. Almost as though you took an erasure to a dry erase board. Blow off sawdust and...
Tada coloring done. Go on to your staining, poly, etc.
Hope this has been informational for anyone interested in my technique. I think I covered all the bases (and I turned off the television while I typed this so I didn't start typing the dialogue from the program and get off on some other tangent lol) If you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them.