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Old 09-09-2014, 04:53 PM   #1
oem4me
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Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Did a quick search on this, and to my surprise I found nothing. Maybe because it's too easy? Or everybody already knows?
In any case, after staring at a blah grill for the year or so since buying my '66 Custom Camper, I finally gave it the front-end detail it has so badly needed. The job was so fast and easy, and came out so well, I feel stupid for not having done it sooner.
Now, normally I would not re-touch an authentically aged survivor part like this, but I'm thinking this grill was re-plated at some point by a previous owner, so no sacrilege there.
I'll try to keep it simple so you can follow along.

This will apply to an bright aluminum grill, but with a basic understanding of various paints and solvents, it should be nearly as easy for a painted grill.

You will need:
A piece of cardboard
Spray paint of choice. - don't use junk. I used Duplicolor acrylic enamel, semi-gloss black
An appropriate solvent for that paint. quicker drying is better. I used Acetone.
An old T-shirt or other nap-less, lint-free rag. NOT terry cloth!
A block of wood 1x3x6 ish. I used a paint stick and a rubber sanding block, but a plain wood block would be just as good, if not better.
A pump or spray bottle
Thats it.

Ok, let's get started.
First, clean the grill. Remove all wax, oil, and traces of old paint. Carb cleaner and a tooth brush works fast for removing paint.
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Next, cut a rough mask for a single letter out of any stiff paper or thin cardboard you find laying around. Tape will make the hole smaller if you cut the hole too big to start.
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Now spray the paint. I did mine one letter at a time for simplicity. Spray light even coats until the whole letter is covered. No runs or heavy pools. If you are struggling at this point, you might want to consider another hobby, or hire the job out. Ha ha, just kidding.
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Let the paint dry a bit.


While the paint is drying, cut the T-shirt into several 1 foot long x 6 inch wide strips. Fold a strip in half (double layer) and tightly wrap it around the wood block, pinching and stretching the material from behind with your hand to maintain a wrinkle free face. This is by far the most critical aspect of this job, as loose material or wrinkles will ruin the result. If you can't hold even tension with your hand, then staple the darn rag on there (backside). In the picture I used a paint stick, but a block would be better.
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Next take a spray bottle with your chosen solvent and wet the face of the rag/block. Immediately get to wiping the excess paint surrounding the letters off the grill, leaving color in the recess. Again, I did one-at-a-time to maintain simplicity and control. When the rag gets loaded with paint, turn to a clean part and reapply. Clean rag and clean solvent = clean results.
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Last edited by oem4me; 09-09-2014 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 09-09-2014, 04:56 PM   #2
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Some may already be happy with the results as-is. I personally thought the letters still looked too fat or heavy, so I went in with a rag and my finger tip to fine-tune. If you can't control your shaking hand, have another drink or skip this step. I suppose one could experiment with more layers of material on your block, creating a spongy effect, which would "reach into" the recesses a little deeper, but you risk blowing the whole thing this way.
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Now stand back and admire that professional looking detailed grill. What was that, like about a half-hour? Sheesh, too easy!
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Before and after
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Last edited by oem4me; 10-22-2016 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 09-09-2014, 05:01 PM   #3
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Very nice!
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Old 09-09-2014, 05:04 PM   #4
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Great Write-up! I'll be trying this trick with my 69 grille when i get my new one. I have seen the difference in price between the painted letters and non painted letters be astronomical!

Good Looking truck, too!
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Old 09-09-2014, 05:13 PM   #5
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Looks good!
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Old 09-09-2014, 05:14 PM   #6
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Looks great and good write up, used this technique on my Nova's grill to give it a "billet" look.
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Old 09-09-2014, 05:15 PM   #7
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Excellent, that grill looks great.

I did this very technique on my sail panels, works great there too.
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Old 09-09-2014, 05:37 PM   #8
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Great Write-up, It turned out great. Now you need to post more pictures of your Truck.
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Old 09-09-2014, 07:27 PM   #9
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Talk about great timming !! Just swaped grills last weekend and need to paint the letters Thanks !!!
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Old 09-09-2014, 07:48 PM   #10
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Great cure for colorless letters and other projects. Thanks for the post
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Old 09-09-2014, 08:46 PM   #11
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

So much better than stickers. Nice work.
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Old 09-09-2014, 09:15 PM   #12
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

darn my grill is painted, what is a good solvent to remove the excess without lifting the main body paint?
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Old 09-09-2014, 09:39 PM   #13
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Thanks fer the right up! Really makes it a piece o cake!!!
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Old 09-09-2014, 10:27 PM   #14
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Dang that's slick!
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Old 09-10-2014, 01:49 AM   #15
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Thanks for the positive feedback, fellas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slepysal View Post
Talk about great timming !! Just swaped grills last weekend and need to paint the letters Thanks !!!
perfect!

Quote:
Originally Posted by steveb64 View Post
Excellent, that grill looks great.

I did this very technique on my sail panels, works great there too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasons65 View Post
Looks great and good write up, used this technique on my Nova's grill to give it a "billet" look.
Yep, for sure not a new trick, but why no posts about it here?


Quote:
Originally Posted by jayoldschool View Post
So much better than stickers. Nice work.
Agreed. Stickers can peel and look tacky (pun). Ha!


Quote:
Originally Posted by pimpston65 View Post
darn my grill is painted, what is a good solvent to remove the excess without lifting the main body paint?
Depends entirely upon what the grill is painted with. If you don't know, some tests are in order. Mineral spirits are about as harmless as it gets for solvents, but still might affect the grill paint if it was done on the cheap. too many variables to say without testing first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathew21 View Post
Great Write-up, It turned out great. Now you need to post more pictures of your Truck.
Some here. http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=609701

Last edited by oem4me; 09-10-2014 at 01:54 AM.
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Old 09-10-2014, 03:27 AM   #16
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

wow looks great!! thumbs up
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Old 09-10-2014, 06:09 AM   #17
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

thks for the reply oem4me.
i used rustoleum auto primer and auto paint on most on the smaller parts. i'll test a small area first. i think if i wipe asap after spraying will help with overspray, so it doesnt fully dry and cause the need for more elbow grease with mineral spirits and all. thks...

Last edited by pimpston65; 09-10-2014 at 06:14 AM.
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Old 09-10-2014, 09:04 AM   #18
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Great write up!!!!
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Old 09-10-2014, 02:11 PM   #19
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Smile Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Nice job and write up, oem4me. And it looks great. And congrats on the ingenious thinking behind the process!

I especially loved those before-and-after pics; really shows the difference.

Another method: I've been using Majik Markers, regular and esp. fine points for this job. The fine points do well on cab sails too, where the lines are so small and narrow. Drawback on my method: needs re-doing about every couple of years;(
Sam

Last edited by luvbowties; 09-10-2014 at 02:16 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 09-10-2014, 02:16 PM   #20
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Thanks for taking the time to share this write up. Great tip!
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Old 09-10-2014, 02:28 PM   #21
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Nice job. Easy too.
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Old 09-10-2014, 06:39 PM   #22
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Thanks for the info Bruh!!
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Old 09-10-2014, 08:59 PM   #23
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

I love easy, thanks LOL
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Old 01-09-2015, 01:10 PM   #24
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Love simple solutions.

This one is too obvious.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 01-09-2015, 03:09 PM   #25
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Re: Painting grill letters ..the easy way!

Awesome post!

Thanks for sharing
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