How to Create a Wooden Sign with Metal Flake Inlay.

How to Create a Wooden Sign with a Metal Flake Inlay!

First you need a pattern.  There are many ways to do this, but this is our way.

A vinyl stencil is cut and then applied to the wood.

Ink was then applied and the stencil was removed.




The sign is first carved with a 60 Degree Router Bit at a depth of aproximately 3/16 of an inch to outline the desired area. 

This can be done inset as shown, or outset if desired.


60° V Groove Solid Carbide Router Bit

Pictured is a 60 Degree Router Bit which is available at

Make A Wood Sign

Dave and Eric are Great people to deal with.

Then the remaining wood is removed using a "Spiral Up Cut" Router Bit to the same depth of 3/16.

It is best to leave a fairly smooth bottom.  It doesn't need to be perfect, but a textured grove didn't work all that well.



Spiral Up Cut Router Bit

Pictured is a Spiral Up Cut Router Bit also available at

Make A Wood Sign


Black ink is then applied to the sign.  The ink is allowed to dry and then sanded off on the face of the sign.

You will want to allow this ink to dry throughly before applying the clear.

Note:  The clear will wipe the ink off if you are not careful.


Side shot showing the depth of the carved areas of the sign.

The Applicator Plunger and mixing cup with automotive clear and metal flake mixture. 

This is only about 1 ounce of clear with a few grams of metal flake mixed in.

Please note:  Mixing cups need to be safe for solvents and free from waxes which could cause fish eyes.

Note:  The outlet hole in the plunger has been enlarged to allow easier dispensing and to minimize clogging of the metal flake.

Automotive Clear and metal flake mixture.
The clear and metal flake mixture is poured into the plunger end and the plunger installed.  You will have air in the applicator as shown.

You will then want to have the applicator inverted and force the air out.

I did this over a garbage can to avoide spillage.

The applicators can be cleaned, but I don't recommend it.  The seal seemed to swell from the solvents.

As you are using this, periodically shake to keep the metal flake suspended.

Also as you use it air seems to build inside.  It is best to purge the air out during use.  If the air builds up, you may get a splurge of material.  This can be wiped off and sanded so don't get too upset but purging the air out will help keep this from happening.

The clear and metal flake mixture applied.  I keep the nozzle from the applicator very tight in the carved area slowly pushing the material in and filling the void.  I also will tip the sign from side to side to allow the clear mixture fo flow into voids.  When drying you want to dry on a very flat and level surface.

Note:  Do not rush dry times.  I will recommend at least overnight, but consult the manufacturer of your clear.  Dry times will be greatly increase due to the thickness that we are applying the clear.

A layer of clear only applied over the first layer to smooth things out.  When the clear of the first step dries you will find it quite rough.

Any spillage can be sanded off, but I did wipe most excess off to eliminate extensive sanding. 

You want to keep the clear below the level of the face of the sign after the clear dries.  It will shrink considerably though.

The finished product.

The sign was sanded and then a coat of automotive clear applied.

This was allowed to dry, sanded with 800 grit and re-cleared.

The metal flake on this sign is "Kaleidoscope" which is silver with many other colors mixed in for a very cool effect.

Notes on this procedure:

If you sand into any metal flake you will remove the color.  This should not be an issue unless the flake is higher than the face of the sign.

Please use personal safety protection equipment.  Paint mask, gloves etc with proper ventilation.

Before you say that automotive clear is too expensive, less than 3 ounces was used for each sign, so less than $3.00 in clear cost per sign.

(I will be trying some Helms in the near future and will let you know how well this works)

Probably about 3-5 grams of metal flake per sign?  This will vary by sign size and design.  The metal flake will go a long way though.

See below for a alternative method of application.

Note for your protection

Do NOT open flake inside the house as your better half will string you up due to the mess!


The white on this sign was applied by first putting down clear coat and then "shaking the metal flake on with a metal flake shaker jar.  I do see a bit of a difference in how it looks but this method can also be used.

You will have more of a mess (loose flake) using this method.

The red metal flake on this sign is 0.025 in size, the white is 0.015.

As seen, two or more colors can be accomplished.

The first color must be let dry and masked off.  Then the second flake color can be applied.  it is best to have the first color masked securely incase of spillage.

Colors are white and red.

Metal Flake Shaker Jar.
Here are some other signs using different colors.
0.015 Peacock metal flake

0.015 Peacock metal flake.

The fishing pole and line are pretty fine, but flake was able to be applied in those areas.

0.015 Red Metal Flake.

For people outside the snow belt, this is the logo used on the classic Scorpion Snowmobile and this is the correct red flake used on their legendary Scorpion Stinger!

0.015 Red for the Pontiac Judge.

Vintage Paint has the metal flake, applicator plungers and metal flake shakers available.

We will be updating this page as seen fit with some future upgrades as more methods are developed.

Please see Dave and Eric Rhoten for any of your sign carving needs.


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