Here I was just testing a hatching pattern that I wanted to use on a sign. You can make just one letter, a complete sample panel or even a small prototype of a sign. The point is to make sure you can successfully execute a technique before you ever use it on a sign. It’s much less stressful to make another test piece than to have to remake an entire sign face.
This is a small test piece that we made years ago, not long after getting our CNC router. I had done quite a few basic samples and wanted to see if I could combine several effects on one piece of SignFoam HDU board. I used inlines, outlines and multiple borders at multiple depths, long before attempting it on an actual sign project.
“The owners wanted to get away from the standard channel letter or cabinet sign that is seen in too many strip malls throughout the country,” says Roger Cox, House of Signs, Frisco, Colorado. “They consulted with us to produce a unique sign, but still wanted internal illumination.”
“We produced a full-to-scale portion of the sign, using a few letters of the design and the proposed textures and layers. That was enough to get an immediate approval on the project. The sign measures 5-by-16-ft.”
“For this project,” says Roger, “we were experimenting with various metal-effect textures on our carved urethane signs.”
“The prototype [at right] sold the job, though we ended up going in a few new directions on the actual sign.”

Practice pays off

The benefits of practice—and the pitfalls of not practicing

By Mike Jackson

Posted on Thursday, August 30th, 2018

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The sign trade can span a wide range of skills from hand lettering, wood carving, calligraphy, vinyl application, design, glass work, screen printing, woodworking, welding and so on. Of course, not every shop does all of them, but all of them require a fair amount of time and energy and usually a lot of practice.

Regardless of the skill or technique listed above, and the long list I didn’t include, practice is essential.

Over the years I have been writing articles in SignCraft, I’ve received countless calls from people in the “middle of a mess.” By mess, I mean they are halfway through a project, only to find it has gone into near disaster mode, and they are trying to find someone that can help them out.

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Mike and Darla Jackson operate Golden Studios in Loveland, Colorado, and do a variety of sign-related projects. Mike’s website is His email address is You can see more of Mike’s photos at and

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