SIGN prototype

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Project by John Smith posted 12-04-2020 05:25 PM 1238 views 2 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Covid Project #27

I wanted to rekindle my skills a little so I picked this project.
it is just a “prototype” for hopefully a larger all wood project in the future.
this one is High Density Urethane (HDU). I chose this material
because it is fairly soft and easy to carve and Bondo quickly covers any issues.
the back is 3/4” by 40” tall and 33” wide. it has a 3/4” skirt glued around the edge
to give the illusion that it is 1.5” thick.
the background is hand textured with hand carving tools. the top and bottom panels
are appliques glued to the main panel. the center ribbon is 1/8” PVC sheet that
was heat formed into shape. then a 3/8” HDU piece was carved with “SIGNS”
and glued to the PVC ribbon to give the illusion it is all one piece.
the bottom name panel is lightly glued to the main panel (in case someone wants
to buy it “as is” and put their name on it).
now – here is the wood part that brings it here:
the thin gold strip around the border is 3/16” wood dowels recessed half way into the panel.
it was all given a special latex primer and regular Valspar latex house paint for the brown.
the gold color is brass/bronze colored SignPainters Lettering Enamel.
I am not really fond of the black paint that was “misted” on the top part so I will be playing around
with different color combos just for something to do.
(my next door neighbor and his wife have the Covid Virus – so I am staying home as much as possible).
so, painting is my hobby – and this will give me something to do indoors.

more photos are in the posts below


-- I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things. --

16 comments so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

3044 posts in 1619 days

#1 posted 12-04-2020 05:26 PM

and this is some of the things I did to make the project come together.

the individual letters were cut out of 1/4” HDU and carved with carving knives to bevel the edges

for the thin gold strip around the outside border, I carved a “V” groove and wrapped a small piece of dowel with sandpaper and formed the groove to accept the 3/16”wooden dowel buried half way and glued in place.

as I noted, this is only a “prototype”. hopefully, I can find some maple
for the main panel and different colored wood for the graphics.
the individual letters will be carved basswood and actual 23k gold leaf.
(this is when a scroll saw comes in handy to cut out the letters).
some Bendable Plywood (Curve-Ply) will be used for the ribbon.
and if luck will have it, I can sell it to a sign shop that wants to improve their image.
thanks for sharing my journey in this Covid Project.

Thank you all for looking – - – any questions, please feel free to holler up.



-- I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things. --

View pottz's profile


25749 posts in 2440 days

#2 posted 12-04-2020 05:59 PM

thats a beautiful sign john,nice work on the carving and all the detail you put into it.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Woodbridge's profile


3755 posts in 3874 days

#3 posted 12-04-2020 07:39 PM

beautiful sign. Do you purchase the HDU in sheets? The background on the sign, the texture and colour gives it a wonderful look of leather.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

3044 posts in 1619 days

#4 posted 12-04-2020 08:21 PM

Peter – this is some HDU I had left over from when I closed my shop a few years ago.
look for a sign supply house in your area if you are interested in it.
I have a fellow colleague in Fergus that had a sign shop there. I don’t know if he gets
his HDU locally there or not.
but yes, I bought it in 4×8’ sheets in different thicknesses.


-- I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things. --

View MrWolfe's profile


1832 posts in 1579 days

#5 posted 12-04-2020 08:33 PM

Wonderful work.
Great to see some of your masterful process.
Excellent post/blog.
Thanks for sharing.

View Oldtool's profile


3505 posts in 3647 days

#6 posted 12-04-2020 09:58 PM

Wow, impressive to say the least. My first thought at first glance was that this was textured leather with gold leaf.

The workmanship is really great, the precise sharp & straight edges of all the layers – letters, and background, especially the lettering, make it difficult to imagine this is hand made. Nice work.

Congratulations on the Top 3.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View sras's profile


6697 posts in 4585 days

#7 posted 12-04-2020 10:18 PM

Beautiful work John!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

10266 posts in 2038 days

#8 posted 12-05-2020 03:47 AM

Great sign, John. Lots of painstaking steps to get to the end. Thanks for spelling them out!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

3044 posts in 1619 days

#9 posted 12-05-2020 04:09 AM

I got a PM from a member wanting to know if the letters were cut out with a CNC.
no – everything you see was handcrafted by hand. only a bandsaw was used to cut out
the letters and a Roto-Zip was used to cut out the inside of the letters.
(a scroll saw would work really well in a project like this).
and each letter was hand carved with carving knives for the beveled effects.

and another member wanted to know how I actually painted the letters:

Hand Painted Sign Panel


-- I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things. --

View therealSteveN's profile


9985 posts in 2030 days

#10 posted 12-05-2020 04:45 AM

Hey John. I hear you know a guy who makes signs….. :-)

Nice post, enjoyed it. Always good to see a pro at work.

-- Think safe, be safe

View mel52's profile


2420 posts in 1721 days

#11 posted 12-05-2020 05:58 AM

I agree with Oldtool, when I first saw it, I thought it was leather. Great job on the texture and coloring. Excellent job. Mel

-- MEL, Kansas

View horky's profile


355 posts in 4387 days

#12 posted 12-05-2020 02:27 PM

You are one talented man for sure. Great work, amazing detail. Thanks for sharing

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

3044 posts in 1619 days

#13 posted 12-17-2020 05:27 PM


I added some embellishments to the project.
some Hand Carved WOOD tools in the ends of the banner.
so now I can call this project done – done – and done.
thanks again to all for the kind words !!

-- I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things. --

View Dark_Lightning's profile


5094 posts in 4565 days

#14 posted 12-19-2020 09:29 PM

Wow, that’s pretty dog gone nice! The brushes also make a nice touch.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View GR8HUNTER's profile (online now)


9618 posts in 2168 days

#15 posted 12-19-2020 10:21 PM

you are the sign master as I know first hand the hard work that goes into these GREAT JOB :<)))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

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