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Signing Your Work

Joined
Mar 18, 2014
Messages
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Location
Apex, NC
I am looking for suggestions on methods to use for signing the bottom of bowls other that the use of branding irons. I am assuming that different methods or inks are used for different bowl finishes and perhaps different species of wood (color)
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
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Location
Brandon, MS
I prefer a woodburner. There are many ways to changeup the look.
Paintpens are available in many colors. I prefer silver on dark woods
Engravers can be used and left as is or use waxes or markers to color in.
Sharpies are popular with a good number in my chapter of AAW.
Have one in my chapter who made his own brand from a nail head.
Hispeed carvers (dental) can also be used, or any other carving tool can be used to make a mark or logo.
This may only touch the tip of the issue. Hope this gives you some ideas.
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2011
Messages
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Location
Joplin, Missouri
There are two archival black ink pens that I use to sign my bowls & HF. Pigma Micron or Faber Castell. I've tried several different pens but have found these to be the best. I put it on the bare wood let it dry for a couple of hours and then dip the turning in my oil blend. These two pens are the only ones, including Sharpie, that don't run due to the oil dip.
HTH
Steve
 
Joined
Jun 10, 2004
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Location
Ames, Iowa (about 25 miles north of Des Moines)
Website
rwallace.public.iastate.edu
Like Steve, I also use the black Sakura Pigma Micron archival pens; the #05 (0.45 mm) is my favorite size.

It writes well on dry shellac (my sanding sealer of choice), on most unfinished wood surfaces, or even directly on lacquer. The pens write well, and it is easy to produce a true signature on the piece, as well as printing or doing calligraphy for recording other information as needed. Once the ink is fully dry (minimum of 1-2 hours), the dried ink stands up to sprayed lacquer, and the lines remain sharp and crisp. (I have not tried it against brushed or wiped-on lacquer finishes.) I like to "capture" the signature under a lacquer finish for most of my pieces.

I find this pen works much better than the "permanent" Sharpies, which tend to bleed into the wood fibers quite a bit. (One of our university archivists told me that the ink used in Sharpie pens is NOT archival.)

I get my Pigma pens from our local Hobby Lobby (also available at Michael's Art supply), and routinely use the 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby when I need new pens. They are a high quality and affordable way to sign turned items.

For dark woods (e.g. blackwood, ziricote, bocote, wenge, walnut, etc.) where a black line would not be readable, I do what Cindy Drozda does (learned this from her), and use a vibrating stylus engraver to write on the piece, and then fill-in the lines with a gold-colored wax filler stick (similar to Rub-n-Buff, in stick form). In some cases I dye the underside of the foot black, and then fill-in the engraved writing lines with the gold lacquer/wax stick (that I got from Cindy). It looks great, is easy to read, and shows off your signature and other information very well (one of my turning friends said the dyed foot with gold writing "looks classy").

I have tried woodburning my signature, wood species, date, etc., and at least for me, pyrographed signatures look far more amateurish than does the crisp dark black lines of the Pigma pen. Give it a try!

See: http://www.sakuraofamerica.com/Pen-Archival

and http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Sakura%2030581

Turn safely!

Rob
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2012
Messages
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Location
Tampa, FL
I started signing my work with a Dremel engraving tool (about $25). I do this AFTER finish has been applied. Once engraved, I wipe on a contrasting color of Rub-N-Buff then, before it dries, wipe off surface color and apply then wipe with Ren Wax. The solvents in the Ren Wax get rid of any remaining color wher it is not wanted. The color stays in the engraved portion, but comes completely off the rest. The finish helps prevent the not engraved wood from absorbing the color.

I have tried using my pyrography pen, but perhaps I am a spaz, or have the wrong tip. I think that the ball tip would work best, but I don't have one. Anyway, I went back to engraving, as I feel I have more control and can get a smaller and better appearance than with burning.
 
Joined
Aug 6, 2009
Messages
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Location
Lummi Island, WA
I use the dremel engraver, too. Try to make my mark as small as possible. I replaced the tip with with an old HSS drill bit of the same size sharpened to a long point. Works great. I engrave after the finish, but don't fill with color...just name and species with a year and sequence #.
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
Messages
34
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1
Location
Prosper, Texas
I have tried engraving and using an archival pen. Currently I am using pyro. It does indeed take some practice, and I am far from good at it - although I am improving. I am using very VERY low heat. Additionally, I am using magnification.
 

Bill Boehme

Administrator
Staff member
Beta Tester
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
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Dalworthington Gardens, TX
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pbase.com
Some other pyro tips:
  • Most of the better pyro systems have tips designed for writing. I use Detail Master
  • Always use low temperature as Glen said
  • Use very light touch or the tip will dig down into softer early wood
  • Keep the pen perpendicular to the wood -- if you hold it at an angle like you would hold a normal pen it will be much harder to get good results
  • Get a few boards and practice -- after a few hundred signatures, you will start to get the hang of it
  • Before you sign an actual piece practice on a scrap of the same kind of wood a few times
  • Wood with a uniform grain is best and wood that has a strong difference in hardness between early and late wood will be very difficult

I don't do pyro signatures often because recovering from a mistake can be difficult. I usually do what Rob does and sometime something similar to what Jeff does except that I use stain instead of Rub 'n Buff.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 25, 2004
Messages
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Location
Annandale, New Jersey
I use a Turbo-Carver with a needle point. At 400K rpm it just floats through the wood surface. First time I used it the family complained that the dentist was making house calls.:D
 
Joined
Mar 17, 2013
Messages
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Location
Roseland, LA
the pens

I plan to use the pens. A warning, I accidentally purchased a very fine tipped one. Two issues, the lines are too fine to read and more importantly the tiny point falls into the grain of the wood making it impossible to write cleanly on a finish that is inside the wood. Going to a bigger pen and practicing some. If I'm still not happy I'll go to plan "B", get someone with a far finer hand than mine to sign my work for me!

I'll probably get around to trying burning someday but that will be when and if I buy a decent burner to work on projects. The proper tip is key I believe. I'm horrible with the tip that comes with toy burners or a soldering iron.

Hu
 

john lucas

AAW Forum Expert
Joined
Apr 26, 2004
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Location
Cookeville TN USA
I use either pyro, Dremel Engraver or achival pens. I use the dremel engraver mostly. It and the Pyro take practice. Use a very light touch with either one. don't force it to burn or cut. Just sort of glide over the surface.
 

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Joined
Apr 25, 2006
Messages
115
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45
Location
Coos Bay, OR
turquoise

I engrave my initials with my turbocrater and fill the engraving with turquoise and use diamond sanding pads to make it perfectly smooth
 
Joined
Mar 18, 2014
Messages
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1
Location
Apex, NC
Sakura Pigma Micron archival pens

I have purchased the Sakura Pigma Micron archival pens and will give them a try. Thanks to all for suggestions
 

John Van Domelen

Retired Forum Admin
Joined
Mar 19, 2007
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Location
Houston, TX
Amazon has a three pack of the Sakura pens - ordered a set to try

[•Contains 3 pens: #01 (0.25 millimeter), #03 (0.35 millimeter), and #05 (0.45 millimeter)] for 6.92 - have Amazon Prime, so shipping is free and am thinking it would cost me in gas the difference that I would save schlepping over to Michael's. :)
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2004
Messages
71
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3
Signing

Hi guys:

I've been following with interest this thread on methods of signing one's work. Currently I sign my pieces with a fine tipped woodburning pen and do quite well in fine grain hardwoods. Where I have difficulty is with open grain woods such as oak or walnut. The pen tip wants to "follow the grain" and is difficult to control. How well do the archival pens that you speak of do on open grain? Have you found any solutions (sealing, etc.) for getting good signing results on open or coarse grain?

Thanks, Peter Toch
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2006
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Panning for Montana gold, with Betsy, the mule!
Hi guys:

I've been following with interest this thread on methods of signing one's work. Currently I sign my pieces with a fine tipped woodburning pen and do quite well in fine grain hardwoods. Where I have difficulty is with open grain woods such as oak or walnut. The pen tip wants to "follow the grain" and is difficult to control. How well do the archival pens that you speak of do on open grain? Have you found any solutions (sealing, etc.) for getting good signing results on open or coarse grain?

Thanks, Peter Toch

Peter.......You might experiment with turning up the heat a little bit, and sign with slower more deliberate and flowing strokes. This does seem to improve the overall look of the burned lines with some coarse grained woods. I usually clean up my stylized signature mark with 600g paper afterwards.

I've been using a CSUSA "cub" woodwriter since the 1980's and this one is still going strong. I only use it for this purpose only, and have another woodburning outfit for other applications. I believe the cub writer is still available, but now looks quite a bit different than this early model.

ooc
 

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Joined
Jul 28, 2004
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signing

Peter.......You might experiment with turning up the heat a little bit, and sign with slower more deliberate and flowing strokes. This does seem to improve the overall look of the burned lines with some coarse grained woods. I usually clean up my stylized signature mark with 600g paper afterwards.

I've been using a CSUSA "cub" woodwriter since the 1980's and this one is still going strong. I only use it for this purpose only, and have another woodburning outfit for other applications. I believe the cub writer is still available, but now looks quite a bit different than this early model.

ooc

Hi Odie:

Thanks for your response. I too generally use a Colewood Cub burner for signing (I have other homemade burners for heavier work) and I don't perceive my problem to be with my equipment. It's the open grained woods that give me trouble. Your advice is good on trying a higher temperature and I've experimented with higher and lower temperatures with varying results, again dependent on the grain of the wood. I've also experimented with various tips ranging from very sharp points to rounded balls. The ball type tips are better at not following the grain, but give a very broad line which I don't like for a signature. I guess I'll have to burn up a few more board feet of oak practicing my burning techniques.

Again I put the question out to all of you, has anyone found a good way to neatly sign their work on open grained woods?

Thanks, Peter Toch
 
Joined
May 19, 2004
Messages
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Location
Derry, NH
Peter, I use a woodburning tip to sign all my work. On open grain woods, I look for a wider section of solid wood to write on. I will avoid trying to write across the open grain, because the pen will 'sink' into the open pore section and spread the burn pattern, making it unreadable. That's the only thing that I've found will work on any open grain woods. Of course if you have smaller, tighter rings, you need to be able to write very small :)
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2006
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Panning for Montana gold, with Betsy, the mule!
Peter......I have done a few oak bowls with additional lettering, but couldn't find a photo at the moment. I did find this one using Sassafras wood, which is very similar to oak. As does Donna, I totally understand about the pen sinking into the soft spots and rising with the hard spots in the grain. This makes it very difficult to come up with anything readable.

Too bad I'm not there to show you what I mean, but by increasing the heat and holding the pen in a way that it doesn't sink into the soft spots as much, and plows through the hard spots......it's do-able. There is nothing you can do to change the characteristics of the wood, but the technique can be altered. When doing it this way, it chars the wood more, which requires a clean-up with sandpaper. This is only a technique that is required for this kind of stubborn wood, as you are certainly aware of how well these woodburning pens work on wood that isn't so resistant to good lettering.

The end result is perfectly readable when done right.

ooc

I'm also adding a photo of my stylized signature on an oak bowl, but this one has the grain much more agreeable to the cub pen. The lettering on the sassafras bowl is more appropriate for this discussion......
 

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Joined
Apr 13, 2013
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Ct
I just got a calligraphy pen and tried on white oak. This is the first try with this pen. I believe the result is rather nice except for the heavy spots on the S. I then lowered the temp. I'd rather have brown marks rather then heavy ones.
 

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