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I need to make a sign that is rain and snow-proof. This will be put in front of my house for a while during winter (it is usually well below -20C here, sometimes even -40C). I don't expect this sign to last very long in this weather so I will most likely be taking care of it every few months when the ground becomes unfrozen.

You can see the general shape in the sketch below. There is a frame which I will make out of 2x4s an you can also see the two glass panes that will be "sandwiching" a paper sign on one side, some black cardboard, and another sign facing the other direction.

What you don't see in the sketch is the glass' frame which is the part that I'm stuck on. I need to make it so that I can change the sign frequently and also make it waterproof.

My question is what can I do design-wise in order to keep water out of the paper sign and at the same time be able to change the sign every now and then?

Consider that I have almost every woodworking tool available to me (no CNC though) and I have to whip this out in 5 days so that it can be ready for Halloween which is when the most people will see it. I can have a "beta" version for that day and go back and tweak it later.

Sign

  • I'm sorry but you're never going to waterproof the edges of the two sheets of glass unless you seal them completely, which means you won't be able to get the paper in and out (unless you cut the seal and then re-do it each time). Water only needs a pinhole to get in, and then capillary action will do the rest. I suppose you could weather-strip the dados in the frame that the glass will reside in, but I don't know how you'd get the glass in and out then. – Graphus Oct 27 '16 at 7:02
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In general you want to make sure that rain and snow have no point of ingress. You always see pictures, adverts and what not tacked onto electric poles or light posts. The usually are just tapped and never last too long. You can even see people using plastic file sheets to cover paper. That works better but moisture still gets in from one end eventually.

If you insist on using just plain paper in the glass try at least make it so the paper in inserted from the bottom. That when it rains , or any other precipitation for that matter that you don't have it sitting in where the paper goes. This will help the overall structure last longer.

Also, I would consider getting a laminater for you paper. A good lamination will stop moisture for much longer than just paper alone. If you are cycling your messages this will help you get more out of them long term.

You could also forgo paper altogether and just do colour printing on plastic transparencies. Not sure about how the inks will hold up though in the weather you are concerned about.

At the end of the day try an make sure there is not place for water to pool and sit. Worst case make some small holes on the bottom where the paper is going to be sitting so that you can get some air flow at least. Likely they will just freeze and become useless but it won't hurt.

  • Matt, I hadn't even thought of laminating the paper! With lamination in place this problem is pretty much solved as long as I do a decent job in the finish. Thanks! – Julian Oct 27 '16 at 2:08
  • +1 on laminating to waterproof the paper, that can be 100% waterproof. But there's a downside to covering the paper with plastic, once pressed between glass you can get this interference pattern (I think it's called a moiré) that could strongly affect legibility. – Graphus Oct 27 '16 at 7:06
  • Moire is a word I need to describe an effect a fluid has between plastic sheets I think now. Good to know. Should be able to mitigate the effect by putting something in the way so it is not completely resting on the glass but I don't think you could completely avoid it – Matt Oct 27 '16 at 10:15
  • @Graphus using anti-Newtonian glass may prevent moiré. – James Youngman Dec 10 '16 at 5:04
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You can put a gap between the paper and the glass (using tacks to attach the paper to the backing board). This will prevent that water will work its way upward using capillary action from a hole in the bottom.

Adding a little awning will also prevent most rain from trying to seep into the top and helps keep the glass clear from snow.

  • Yeah, keeping the ice clear from the glass is going to be a tricky one. I will coat the glass panes with a hydrophobic product I got from a Kickstarter a while ago. I can seal all the wood-glass seams with silicone, but the bottom slot might be hard to seal. I think a thin strip of wood (also sealed with silicone) that I can pry when I need to replace the sign would work. – Julian Oct 27 '16 at 14:05

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