How to Sandblast Wood Signs


Sandblasted wooden signs are one of a kind. They stand out among the cookie cutter vinyl and manufactured signs because they project a rustic, country attitude, and are visually attractive. Most sign makers produce raised letter signs by sandblasting. But if you do the reverse with inset routed letters, you can get a sign that looks like it has been floating around in the ocean for years. These kinds of signs can be found along the coast highways, but you can make one in your garage, and still get that attractive, worn wood look.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 fir sign with 1/2 inch deep routed lettering
  • 1 sandblaster capable of 85 psi
  • 1 bag 30 grit silica sand 100 lbs
  • 1 protective helmet, pair of gloves and coveralls
  • 1 respirator certified for sandblasting
  • 2 sawhorses
  • 1 hand router
  • 1 router bit, diameter matching sign lettering
  • Lay the sign face down up on two sawhorses outside or in an extremely well ventilated area. Put on all the protective gear, including the respirator. Load sand into the sandblaster.

  • Turn on the sandblaster, set the regulator at 80 psi and test the capability on the back of the sign. Start by holding the nozzle of the wand of the sandblaster at about 12 inches from the sign moving it closer, getting the distance established as you sweep across the sign, watching as the sand eats away at the surface. The idea is to remove the soft grain leaving the carbon layers of the wood standing. The carbon layers look like amber-colored ridges that are standing up. Sweep across the entire back of the sign until you get the feel of the equipment and know the proper distance of the wand from the sign's surface.

  • Turn the sign over. Begin by sweeping the wand around the perimeter of the sign, moving in toward the letters, letting the sand blast away the soft grain to a depth of approximately 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch. Move the wand quickly between the letters, removing soft grain without removing to much definition of the letters. Go between all the letters, and then move the wand back a few inches and blend, knocking the high points off as you sweep the wand across the entire sign. When finished, the sign should resemble driftwood.

  • Examine the sign. If some of the letters have lost definition, set the router depth to approximately half an inch, turn on the router and re-establish the line of the letter freehand with the letter matching bit.

Tips & Warnings

  • The sign can be sprayed with clear urethane or the letters can be painted first, then sprayed with urethane.
  • Never breathe silica sand. Always wear respirators. Never point the wand of a sandblaster at unprotected skin.

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  • Photo Credit old weathered "cabins" sign along a lonely highway image by David Smith from
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