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Old March 20th, 2007, 02:18 PM   #1
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Making wood look like metal

Has anyone tried this? don't big productions make wood sets then colour them to look like metal if need be?

I need to make a prop which would have to appear to be made of metal. I have access to wood working tools and materials but not metal.

any advice?
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Old March 20th, 2007, 02:24 PM   #2
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Sure, we do this all the time when building stage scenery. It all depends on what you're building and how close it will be seen. But as a general principle, it's very important to sand all surfaces thoroughly to level out any wood grain or joints. Then you will probably need to coat any problem spots with some type of wood filler (spackling compound, plastic wood, etc).

Make sure you get a good base coat of paint to seal the wood, it may take several coats. Then paint with a color/technique consistent with what you're trying to imitate. As a general rule, try to avoid shiny surfaces because reflections will highlight any woodgrain or imperfections. A flat surface is idea, if that fits what you're trying to do.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 02:59 PM   #3
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i need to make a postbox, there would be a couple of closeups of it as the postman empties it. i will be shooting in hdv also, if that makes a difference.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 03:21 PM   #4
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Before re-inventing the wheel and going to lots of trouble, you might want to check with any local props rental houses and theatres. That sounds like the kind of thing that someone else might already have...
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Old March 20th, 2007, 03:33 PM   #5
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Tony,

Iím in the US not the UK so things might be different; years ago when I needed a postal box for a theatrical project I just went to the local post office and asked to borrow one.
Times are different now but hey itís worth a shot. If you find a sympathetic post master like I did thereís your postbox.

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Old March 20th, 2007, 04:38 PM   #6
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unfortunately royal mail dont want to be associated with the project so borrowing one isnt an option, i looked into props companies also but they only have royal mail types for rent.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 06:46 PM   #7
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This is way out of my realm of expertise, however, on one of our recent projects, the props guy was using a very thin metal with an adhesive backing. Sort of like the laminates that they use for covering furniture (although those are wood). These are apparently made for refinishing cabinets. They also make protective shelf papers in metal finishes that look surprisingly good.
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Old March 21st, 2007, 09:15 AM   #8
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Hide it.....

Tony:

One idea might be to shoot with an original box but screen the logo with plants, person out walking the dog, person talking to postman, etc. I know in some of your other posts that you are concerned about the Royal Mail Red color but you could apply a bit of subtle color correction to fix that.

Just an idea to get you thinking outside the Royal Mail Box.

Randy
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Old March 21st, 2007, 09:33 AM   #9
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Another option is foamcore or similar material, often used by commercial photo labs as a mounting substrate. If there is a lab nearby they may have sufficient scrap material to build something. Much easier to work than wood, has very smooth paintable surface, lightweight.
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Old March 21st, 2007, 10:10 PM   #10
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Would this postbox have to be the round type, or the rectangular one ?

I guess the rectangular type would be relatively easy to make from plywood. A free standing one could be mounted on a scaffold pole or tent pole, or you could even make one that's mounted in a fake brick wall made from one of those 6x4 panels from B&Q.

To replicate the cast iron, painted many times over the years, paint the bare wood with red oxide primer, then use a couple of coats of red gloss, maybe with a few drops of white mixed in to give it that faded look. Also you could put something into the paint to stop it looking brand new, seeing as they usually look quite rough. Maybe some sand, filler dust or something similar.

If you wanted a round postbox, that's going to be harder, but not impossible. If it was me, I'd be tempted to make one, use it for whatever filming was required, and then sell it on eBay to recover some of the costs. (either that or leave it on a street corner and see if anyone puts letters in it).

Is there a scrap metal dealer anywhere near you ? I've been to yards where they have things like this. They sometimes have phone boxes as well, which seem to sell for high prices, but post boxes might not be too expensive. They're easy enough to restore if you do happen to find one (and have a means of transporting it).
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Last edited by John Westbury; March 21st, 2007 at 10:14 PM. Reason: thought of something else
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 04:59 AM   #11
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rather than making one that looks similar to one of the royal mail ones, i intend to design one so anything goes really.

i am just paranoid that in close ups the grain of the wood might be visible.
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 08:43 AM   #12
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I think if you use enough grain filler you should be fine - that and a lot of coats of a lacquer based paint, if lacquer based paints are still legal where you live. Maybe you could talk to an auto body shop to see what they might be able to spray on for you

If you've ever looked at fine Japanese lacquerware you'll see no grain structure whatsoever. On the other hand, it takes a couple of years of coatings to get there. :< )

Not sure if any of the water based paints will do the trick, but oil based paint might work. Epoxy based paints might also work. But if it's legal, lacquer might be best. And something like MDF has no grain to start with, but the water based stuff might give it a somewhat fuzzy surface

Disclaimer - I've never tried to paint wood as a prop for a video - but I've been a hobby woodworker for quite a few years.
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 08:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Webber View Post
rather than making one that looks similar to one of the royal mail ones, i intend to design one so anything goes really.

i am just paranoid that in close ups the grain of the wood might be visible.
Grain shouldn't be a problem. A few years ago I was unemployed for a few months, so I got bored. I made cardboard models of caravans, lorries etc. I just used brush on red primer, let it dry for a day, then rubbed it down with fine wet and dry paper (1000 - 1200 grade). After two coats of this, it was good to paint, and there were no imperfections visible through the top coat. Just as an example of what can be achieved, on a model Atkinson lorry I made, there was a slight indent in one of the front wing panels, so rather than use conventional filler on such a small scale, I built up the area with pieces of cigarette paper. Stuck them on, one at a time by applying them while the primer was still wet. Once rubbed down and painted, it was impossible to tell where they had been placed. I'm a bit of a perfectionist with things like that, because I occasionally do car body repairs, so I can always tell if something's right or not.
For wood, make sure you allow the primer to dry completely, because when it does, it shrinks, and only then will you be able to rub it down to ensure you get rid of any signs of the grain.
Another tip - try to sandpaper at right angles to the grain of the wood as this will be more effective in ensuring a smooth surface.
Also, boat enamel is sometimes a good paint to use as it's nice and thick, and will cover up lots of surface imperfections. I once saw someone paint a van with this, using a roller (foam type) and considering the lack of preparation he did, it was a very good result.

http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b3...t/000_0832.jpg
http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b3...t/000_0372.jpg
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Old March 27th, 2007, 05:57 PM   #14
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they look pretty good, i shall do a bit of experimenting i think, see what results i come up with.
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Old March 27th, 2007, 07:43 PM   #15
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I don't know if this helps- (this company is in California) but we have used this product. It IS metal. SPRAYABLE.
www.luminore .com
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