Fit bracket: 5 minutes There are holes in the custom made bracket to accept the screws that hold it to the sign panel and the screws that go down through the top slab and into the sign panel. The sign panel and the top slab are 18-lb. SignFoam HDU board.
Fit top slab: 25 minutes I laid out the locations of the hangers and the holes in the bracket on the top slab, then cut slots in the slab to accept the hangers.
Mount bracket: 15 minutes The bracket was bonded to the sign panel using West System Epoxy and 6-in. GRK screws. I ground the face of the bracket to bare steel to improve adhesion, and used an additive in the epoxy for improving the bond to dissimilar materials.
Mount top slab: 15 minutes I drilled shallow countersink holes in the bottom of the hat slab to accommodate the screw heads in the bracket. Then I glued and screwed the slab over the bracket and into the panel.
Here’s the hat mounted to the panel and bracket.
Install molding: 25 minutes I had the mahogany crown molding milled at a local mill shop. The crown was epoxied to the HDU board. I shot stainless nails through the wood to hold it until the glue set up. I filled the nail holes with polyester finishing putty, then gave it a final sanding.
Spray primer: 20 minutes The sign was primed with Sherwin-Williams Extreme Bond Primer. It’s upside down so that I could paint all four sides at once. The primer dries to touch in an hour, then I let it dry overnight before applying the finish.
Spray finish coat: 20 minutes Once the primer is totally cured, I applied a topcoat of Matthews Acrylic Polyurethane Satin paint.
Tape graphics: 45 minutes Before painting the cut acrylic graphics, I applied 3M VHB double side tape to the back of the acrylic letters. Be sure to clean the surface with isopropyl alcohol first.
Paint and install graphics: 90 minutes Then I flipped the letters over and sprayed them with Matthews Acrylic Polyurethane Satin. Once they were dry, I cleaned the sign face with isopropyl alcohol and mounted the letters with the VHB tape.
Installation: 90 minutes A friend who has a metal-smith shop built the bracket from my design. It makes a very sturdy bracket and it accommodates the gooseneck lights well. They blend in and don’t look like an afterthought. The steel bracket was primed with etch primer and finished with Matthews Paint.

What’s it cost to produce this 26-by-36-in. 3D sign?

HDU board and mahogany deliver a durable, attractive hanging sign

By Chris Bourgeois

Posted on Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Materials:
HDU board: $225
Mahogany molding: $120
Acrylic letters and VHB tape: $110
Paint: $65
Bracket: $500
Gooseneck lights: $150
Total materials: $1170

Labor:
Design: 2 hours
Assemble sign panel: 1.5 hours
Paint panel and graphics and install graphics: 3 hours
Installation: 1.5 hours
Total time: 8 hours
I had done work for this customer in the past, so when they bought an historic building for their offices they came to me for the sign. The realtor’s brother, a graphic designer and friend of mine, had done his logo which was being used across all of their branding. The realtor wanted a sign that fit with the building and delivered a very professional look, so I came up with this design.

It’s 26-by-36-in. and double-faced. The sign face is 18-lb. SignFoam HDU board [www. signfoam.com]. The “hat” on top is a slab of HDU board, and a mahogany crown molding hides the bracket. I have found mahogany and HDU board to be extremely stable in an exterior environment.

Once the hat was assembled it was a very heavy-duty unit. The HDU sign panel doesn’t weigh much, but I wanted the sign to be strong and durable. I’m very careful about the quality of what goes out of my shop, both the design and the construction, because especially in our business, your work is such a reflection on you. It’s your advertising. You can’t risk putting something mediocre out there.

One of the issues I’ve resolved has been finding a universal, dependable primer. I wanted something that dries fast, works on all the materials I typically use, sands well and is compatible with more aggressive topcoats like Matthews Paints’ acrylic polyurethane paint [www.matthewspaint.com]. Sherwin-Williams Extreme Bond Primer does all of that. It dries to touch in an hour, and I can finish coat the next day. It bonds to metal, HDU board, wood and most other sign materials. It’s almost like it was formulated for the sign industry.

Even though the gooseneck fixtures come with a black finish, I scuff sand them then spray the entire fixture with Matthews polyurethane. The factory finish just won’t hold up nearly as long as the Matthews. If you don’t paint them, they will be fading and chalking in six or eight months. By painting them, I know it will still look great in six or eight years—and even more.


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