Question: Filling lettering

Marcus Hunt

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Hi guys, just a quick one. I've got an 'urgent' commission for an plaque for the opening of a gym. The plate is going to be A4 and will have a Royal Navy ship's badge about 3" tall with the gym name and the inscription underneath. Obviously these letters are going to be quite a bit bigger than on a gun so I'm going to cut them deeper than normal and was thinking of filling them with paint. I don't know if I can get Rustolium over here but I'll try. What I need to know is the best way of applying it to the lettering; do you use a paintbrush or just rub it into the engraving? Is there an ideal depth of cut for it to sit in and will it stand up to being polished with Brasso or the like?
 

Mike Cirelli

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#2
Marcus
I would apply it lastly to a clean surface. I apply it with cotton swab, then I use my finger wiping it with a clean finger until it's filled and the surrounding area is clean.
 

Tira

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#3
Marcus, I've had more luck wiping it off with phone book or news print type paper than my finger. You may want to try that. Sometimes I put a wood block behind the paper so it doesn't take the paint out of the cuts.
 

KCSteve

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I also rub it on with a Q-Tip.

Like Tira I tend to do the initial wiping with a piece of paper - standard printer paper's been working well for me. I finish up with my thumb as per Sam's advice.

I've been thinking about getting one of those small plastic squeegees to see if it would work for the wiping.

For your application you might want to consider stippling the lettering so that it will be 'naturally' darker. That should handle any concerns over the effects of cleaning over time.
 

fegarex

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Marcus,
You mentioned that it may be polished with Brasso or something so I can assume the plate is brass. Will you be doing any final polishing of the plate yourself?
If so to both questions I would suggest using a chemical to blacken the letters. It will hold up better than paint. I'm afraid just about anything can get removed with Brasso including the chemical black but I would think it would give you better results.
 

Marcus Hunt

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Okay, I'm getting a little confused (doesn't take much does it? :p) Is the paint supposed to fill the lettering virtually flush with the surface? You often see brass plates over here outside dentists' and lawyers offices and their lettering is black. My father seems to think in the old days pitch was used but I can't be bothered with that plus I don't have the time.

Rex, the chemical way won't fill the lettering will it? So what stuff do you recommend? Will brass polish affect the paint when its dry? I wouldn't have thought so but as I say, I've no experience in this field.

Roger, I like your suggestion very much. It's just a case of tracking it down over here. Have you used it before? Can you or anyone else say what the results are like? This is a very important plaque as it's going into one very 'special house' over here. I persuaded the guy in charge to go with hand engraving over machine or laser so it's got to be right!
 

fegarex

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Marcus,
The chemical black doesn't fill at all, just blackens. Most of the paints won't "fill" either.
Roger may have what you are looking for. Another option might be some expoxy paint but it still doesn't really fill. As usual, your father may know best! I think that something like regular paint just wouldn't hold up well enough.
 

Christopher Malouf

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#9
Hi guys,

Ceramit, Color-It and any epoxy type resin will eventually crack and fall out of the lettering .... particularly if the sign is going to be exposed to the elements. The old stuff did anyway .... don't know if the stuff out there now is better. Also, you'd have to undercut the cuts like an inlay so when the stuff cures it holds fast.

Black paint works pretty well in lettering but doesn't last on something that is periodically cleaned or exposed to the elements. I often have to re-apply it.

Lastly, Rex is talking about an antiquing or patina solution like "antique bronze" etc. I've used this on lettering for boat bells and it works great. It isn't an "artificial" coloring as it is a permanent part of the finish and the cuts stay dark.

http://www.riogrande.com/MemberArea/ProductPage.aspx?assetname=331043&page=GRID&category|category_root|118=Finishing+Equipment+and+Supplies&category|cat_118|280=Decorative+Finishes&first_answer=1

Hope the link works ....

Chris
 
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#10
Hi Marcus

The machine engravers down here fill their wall plaques with gloss water based house paint. Clean it thouraghley first to get any grease/oil out. Fill with paint using a small brush and wipe off excess. You may have to do it a couple of times to build it up. Leave to dry for 24 hours so it keys in properley.

Yes, it will wear out with contstant polishing but so will anything you use. The brasso will also have an effect of filling the cavities.

If you don't like the idea of water based paint then you can use enamel/oil based house paint.

Cheers
Andrew
 

Leonardo

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#11
Hi Marcus,
I can tell you that usually the engravings in the machine engraved plaques are filed with enamel letting the pain drop in the channels and leveling alone.
You also should to fill the engraving with enough paint in a way that it covers the tools marks. In the case that the plaque will be installed outdoors you should check that the paint has incorporated UV filter additives.
I do not know the Ceramit enamel suggested by Roger but it looks like a great option.
Best regards, Leonardo.
 

Martin Strolz

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#12
Marcus,
If you decide on paint, this stuff is very high quality and solvent based.
http://www.humbrol.com/paints/enamel-paints/
You can also use similar paint from Revell. Stir it well and apply it drop by drop with a toothpick in a mechanical pen. That takes a while but gives nice results. Fill the engraving quite high, when the solvent is gone the final level is is much lower. Take precautions that no dust can settle in the paint during drying. Clean the surface when the paint is fully dry.
Martin
 

Kevin P.

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#13
Marcus,
I've read the posts. Here's another thought just to add to the confusion.
I'd try Epoxy 220. It 's a two part epoxy that cures initially in 24 hours and the cure continues to improve beyond that. You would mix a black pigment designed for epoxies into the two part 220.
I think it would be best if you didn't fill the engraving. If the engraving is deep and the filler isn't all the way to the top I think it would be better for the survival of the lettering. It doesn't need to be thick to be effective. If it's deep there's a possibility for cracking if exposed to the weather.
There are infinite possibilities in epoxies. I haven't checked recently but there was a web site "epoxies.com". One company would do a specific formula according to you need. Another possibility just came to mind: Black Max made by loctite, possibily the world's largest producer of industrial epoxies. Industrial material suppliers like 'MSN' carry Loctite products.
It might be worth a call to 'MSN' and see what they suggest.
HTH
Kevin P.
I've been using Epoxy 220 for at least two decades. It has held up very well for me.
 

Kevin P.

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#14
Addendum to my first post.
Marcus if you go the epoxy route, how you use it is critical to your success. I've heard of lots of failures.
Technique is everything when using epoxy.
You must have a impeccably clean metal before you use the epoxy. I use acetone.
Mix it carefully so as to not incorporate air. If you have access to vacuum, it's even better. It will help release air from the mix.

To cure set atop a heat source at a very low temp, making sure your plaque is level. The heat from a 100 watt bulb is too hot.
I mix the two parts plus as little black additive as possible using a clean toothpick (I use it in small quantities)and mixing as if in slow motion to avoid incorporating air. Here's where the vacuum comes in.
Another point, slow curing is best; the Epoxy 220 cure in 24 hours but hardens further with a longer period.
Meticulousness is everything.
If you fill the channel you're asking for trouble; but this is just one person's experience.
Kevin P.
 
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Kevin P.

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#15
Another bit.
When a piece is complete and I've used the epoxy, I put the piece under a bell jar to keep any dust, whatever, from the surface at least 24 hours.
Kevin P..
 
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#16
ok, I'm probably sure this is a dumb question, but I'll ask it anyway: If you are going to fill the letters, why would you cut them deep? Wouldn't that mean that the stuff you are going to use to fill the letters with would have more of a chance to dry unevenly and crack?
diane b
 

Marcus Hunt

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Thanks for all these suggestions, it certainly has got me thinking. Next questions: if I'm cutting these letters for fill with paint will they have to be deeper than if I use the chemical black solution? Also, how deep is deep? If I'm gold inlaying .007"-.010" is deep, but is this deep enough for an inscribed plaque?

I like the sound of the Ceramit enamel but I can't seem to find it in England and because of the time pressure getting it shipped is probably not on. From the sounds of it, it would have to travel surface mail and that takes weeks.

As far as I can tell, this is going to be an interior plaque so hopefully we won't have to worry about the elements.
 
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Arnaud Van Tilburgh

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#18
Marcus, when I stated being a goldsmith without having a shop, I wanted a plaque to put next to my front door, so people would know they could come into my house for jewellery.
It is the sort of plaque also doctors and lawyers have. They where made of brass but you had to polish them otherwise they become black of course.
So the one the professional made for me was made of anodised aluminium. It was engraved by machine and the man told me he always uses black car paint.
Hope this could help you;
arnaud
 

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