Structure is critical in our work. Structure comes in many forms starting with the substrates we choose. In our shop I like to use 30 or 40 lb Precision board exclusively while most shops stick with the less expensive 15-20lb HDU. The numbers refer to the pounds per cubic foot. The higher the number the denser and tougher the product is. I want to sleep good at night and knowing I have used the best possible product for our projects means they will be a LOT sturdier and withstand a lot more abuse down the road.
The small sign we are building now is a good example of our sturdy construction methods. When it came time to build the town crier's arm I first welded up a sturdy armature from 5/8" steel rod. This was epoxied deep into the 30 lb Precision Board. I know that no matter what this guy's arm is going to remain intact.
Once the steel rods were epoxied into place I did the sculpting of the hand and arm, knowing it will stay in place no matter what.
There is also some steel mesh embedded into his hat giving it a lot more strength like steel inside a concrete deck. Overkill? Perhaps, but if it never fails then it has done it's job.
I'll be sleeping well at night knowing the signs I build won't fail due to poor material and shortcuts in their construction. Most of my customers and those who see it will never know. Hopefully they will be concentrating on the pretty face. :)