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Old 10-26-2011, 09:16 PM
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How to Emboss Lettering into Sheet Metal

When I was restoring my Chevelle I decided to paint it black instead of the original and very common Mulsane blue. Since I brought it back in black, I figured why not name it that and set off to replicate the AC/DC album cover "BACK IN BLACK" on the trunk lid.

Having some experience in the tool and die industry, I was familiar with the technique of using urethane rubber as the female half of a forming die and figured that would work well for my application. With the curved shape of the trunk lid and lack of access behind it, I decided that it would be easier to emboss the letters into a piece of sheet metal and weld that into the trunk lid rather than try to emboss the letters into the lid itself.

The first step was coming up with a pattern that did justice to the logo on the album cover. Luckily, I actually had a copy of the BACK IN BLACK album that I had picked up at a garage sale to use as a guide. I did some searching through the many fonts in Word and found one that was nearly identical to the one used on the album. I typed it out, adjusted the size and spacing to suit, and printed it out.



Next, I needed to duplicate the letters in thin sheet metal to as a male die to press or emboss their shape into another sheet. The easiest way I could think to do it was to glue the paper letters to a piece of sheet metal then saw and file them to shape.



Once the letters were created, I taped them to the back of the sheet metal to be embossed, made a sandwich of hard urethane sheet (90 durometer), the sheet metal to be embossed and the letters in between two thick steel plates and squeezed the whole mess in a hydraulic press. This forced the letters into the piece of sheet metal backed up by the urethane. My 40 ton press couldn't handle doing all of the letters at once so I gradually pressed them in a little at a time, one at a time. The pics below show a trial run of the process on a single letter.











Once the letters were formed, I folded a hem on two of the edges and put the curve and body line of the trunk lid into the sheet with a brake and by bending it over a piece of pipe. Then I laid it on the trunk lid, scribed a line around the outside and cut it out using an abrasive wheel and aviation snips. The piece was then welded in using lots of tack welds to prevent warping. The letters embossed so cleanly that the only filler required was along the weld line.







This technique could be used to emboss literally any shape or logo anywhere on a car. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Have fun!

Tom

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Last edited by Figbash; 10-26-2011 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 10-26-2011, 11:11 PM
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Wow! That's really cool. I think the finished product, although subtle, is really going to set your car apart from the rest of the 70's A-bodies at a car show.
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Old 10-26-2011, 11:37 PM
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awesome thread. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-26-2011, 11:58 PM
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Thanks for sharing, it could open a lot of ideas for the guys here. Cool post. When I went to one of Winfields metal working classes he did something like that with a flame pattern and an English wheel onto aluminum. Your idea would probably be easier to duplicate.
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Old 10-27-2011, 06:22 AM
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EXCELLENT, I wanted to make a tailgate skin for my 54 but it has CHEVROLET embossed in it, now I can do that part too...endless possibilities..
....This ones a keeper....
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Old 10-27-2011, 08:10 AM
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Great tutorial Figbash...except that now I'll be laying awake all night thinking of all the ways to use your process. Would love to see pics when it is in final paint.
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Old 10-27-2011, 08:47 AM
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Thanks guys. Hopefully someone else can apply the technique. I'd love to see the results.

The only pics I currently have in paint was before rubbing it out. I'll try to take one of the finished product and add to the post.

Tom
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Old 10-27-2011, 09:07 AM
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Oh yeah I have a few ideas in my head! I always wanted to make a BUICK tail gate for my truck when I was running a Buick engine, that would have been cool.

Brian
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Old 10-27-2011, 09:52 AM
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For guys who don't weld, I did something similar... but not as obvious... many years ago.

I used paint, and did a negative impression, that looked like the name was "pressed in" the sheetmetal. It was on a black car, and would not work well on lighter colors.

When I was ready for the final clear coats, I simply masked out the car name in tape... shot several coats of clear... then peeled out the letters... and shot the final coat.

It may have slight irregulaities around the edges. I sand and buff everything. If you don't, you may need to sand and buff the lettering a little, if the edges need it.

Having said this... the metalwork is more impressive! You could also reverse the letters to make them go in.
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Old 10-27-2011, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TucsonJay
For guys who don't weld, I did something similar... but not as obvious... many years ago.

I used paint, and did a negative impression, that looked like the name was "pressed in" the sheetmetal. It was on a black car, and would not work well on lighter colors.

When I was ready for the final clear coats, I simply masked out the car name in tape... shot several coats of clear... then peeled out the letters... and shot the final coat.

It may have slight irregulaities around the edges. I sand and buff everything. If you don't, you may need to sand and buff the lettering a little, if the edges need it.

Having said this... the metalwork is more impressive! You could also reverse the letters to make them go in.
That is pretty darn intersting too Jay!

Brian
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Old 10-27-2011, 03:19 PM
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Thanks Brian. I have always tried to think outside the box. It is kind of boring to do the generic custom jobs over and over.

I have come up with several special effects over the years. If I ever have time to write that book, I will share them. :-)

I'm getting ready to do the "assembly boo-boo" touchups on a really nice '40 Ford Deluxe coupe, that is finally together. The lettering on the dash some rhinestones buried in the paint :-)~
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Old 10-27-2011, 06:00 PM
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Here is a photo of the embossed logo after paint. Black is tough to photograph: I didn't notice the tree reflections when I took the photo.

Tom



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Old 10-27-2011, 07:54 PM
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Very cool. I'll bet you get tons of double takes.
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Old 10-27-2011, 09:02 PM
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i found something new to do to my car now its sweet
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Old 10-28-2011, 05:41 AM
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and the letters can be raised or sunk in too...Years ago my Dad put a ford motor in a 68 Datson 2000 and called it a fordson how cool would that be on the trunk....I call my car Metal Illness ,one more thing for my 2 do list...This just may be the the tip of the year.....
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