It is hard to believe that it was almost ten years ago I witnessed a CNC router in action for the very first time. I was fascinated and simply had to have one! Although I had been in the creative end of the three dimensional sign business for most of my life I didn't really know what I would do with one of these machines - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Along with the CNC router I discovered the wonderful material called Precision Board and the glues, primers and other companion products they offer. Since then we have gone through many tons of the material using it in most signs and projects we tackle. This journal will chronicle our many adventures both past, present and future. I'll talk from the perspective of someone who pushes these products to the creative limit on a daily basis. I'll be adding to the stories two or three times each week. -dan

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One layer at a time...

I started the doctor's sign file late in the afternoon yesterday. At quitting time I went into the house to make supper, then mowed the lawn and had a leisurely evening. I checked the machine once in a while to make sure all was right, the last time just before I signed off for the night. When I came into the shop this morning the sign was done... and it looked great!
I pulled it off the router and cut six more layers of Precision board which I would laminate up to form a sign more than seven inches thick. The three middle layers would be wrapped around the welded steel frame. I used the cut Precision Board as a jig to hold the 3" x 3" square tubing in place as I tacked it up. A piece of 1" square tubing with a 5/8" nut was welded up on top. An eye bolt would thread in this to be used for transport and lifting the sign into place. Once everything was tacked I pulled the frame out and welded everything nice and secure.
I then laminated up three layers of the cut Precision Board and slid it over the welded frame. It fit perfectly. I used PB Bond-240 glue for long lasting and secure joints. I added the other four layers (including the front) one at a time - gluing and screwing each panel into place. I could handle the task by myself without strain. It took about an hour to finish the job.
I used multiple layers of 1" thick 30 lb Precision Board because I had a lot of that in stock. Once I'm done the laminations won't show. In the past I've made the signs hollow, but I've found the extra labor outweighs any savings in materials. I've also had some troubles with de-lamination because the joints are so small in relation to the size of the sign.
I have found building a sign over a heavy welded steel frame serves a number of purposes which add up for me. The sign is mounted securely and is very stable while I work on it. I can work on and paint all sides of the sign without difficulty or delay. With the removable eye bolt on the top of the sign I can lift the sign up and then back my trailer under it to load it. The eye bolt also served as a top tie down point without any risk of damage to the sign. The sign will be mounted to a simple concrete footing/slab. My customer does this work. This means the sign installs in minutes with only four holes to drill and four anchor bolts to set. Leveling is easily accomplished. Best of all the sturdy framework is hidden inside the sign, meaning I don't even have to paint it. The sign has no chance of ever warping either.
In the next days I'll weld up the bottom framework for the rock work and begin adding the finishing touches to the sign.
Stay tuned...