Cut main panel and components: 45 minutes The background and border were routed from ¾-in. PVC board.
Clean up textured background: 45 minutes After routing a wood-carved texture into the background, I used a wire brush in a drill to clean out the PVC particles in the deep crevices and to add a woodgrain effect to the raised areas. This goes quickly as it is not precise—you just keep the grain running horizontal with the texturing.
Sand letters: 1 hour Using an abrasive pad in a flexible shaft tool to sand the letters saves a lot of time compared to hand sanding or other tools.
Cut graphic panel: 15 minutes The hand-carved graphic panel was cut from ¼-in. PVC board as a background piece along with a raised part for the border and graphic.
Carve the graphic: 3 hours The hand-carved graphic was first cut from ¼-in. PVC board as a background piece along with a raised part for the border and graphic.
Cut and prep the backing panel: 30 minutes We cut a vinyl mask for the backing panel by making an inline contour of the letter file. When removed, the unpainted backs of the letters can bond to the bare PVC.
Bond letters to backer: 30 minutes We used a vinyl mask so that we could bond the letters to bare PVC after painting, using PVC pipe glue. You can store PVC glue in a poly plastic bottle for several weeks in a cool place.
Paint carved graphic: 1 hour The carved graphic was hand painted and blended using satin acrylic latex paints.
Real Gold 22K Florentine Swirl 22k gold leaf film was used on the border of the small oval graphic and on the background inset near the raised border. The letters and backing panel were securely attached through the back of the main background panel with stainless steel screws.
Mounting blocks were glued to the back of the sign, then 3-in. No. 12 screws were screwed through the block and into the panel about ½-in. The heads were then cut off to serve as studs for mounting. We made a mounting template from 4mm corrugated plastic for the contractor for the placement of the recessed area for the sign in the faux stone and to use for installation.

What’s it cost to produce this 3D entrance sign?

Layers of PVC board make a durable solution

By Larry Elliott

Posted on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

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4-by-5-ft. 3/4-in. PVC board: $120
2-by-4-ft. 1/2-in. PVC board: $40
2-by-5-ft. ¼-in. PVC board: $30
4-by-5-ft. 4mm corrugated plastic: $7
1 quart acrylic latex: $20
40 1- and 1¼-in. No. 6 stainless screws: $12
Six 3-in. No. 12 plated screws: $3
5-by-24-in. 22k gold vinyl cut into ¼-in. strips: $10
Miscellaneous sandpaper, rags, cleaners, tape, PVC glue, etc.: $10
Total materials: $252

Design/sales: 2 hours
Pattern/template: ¼ hour
Setup/routing: 1 hour
Hand carving: 3 hours
Texture, cleanup, sand: 2 hours
Paint: 2 hours
Assembly: 1 hour
Miscellaneous: moving materials, sweeping, cleaning: 1 hour
Total: 12 to 13 hours
Not long ago, Matt Logue of the Lakewood Capital Group from East Tennessee contacted us to produce the entrance signage for a property they were developing at the new 1000-acre county lake near our shop. Our company had been referred to them by a mutual friend, Terry Hamlett, the contractor who was installing security fencing at the property.

The property developer’s desire was to have a dimensional sign mounted on a stone wall at the entrance to the exclusive development. They provided a couple of rough ideas they had put together from signs they had seen online. They told us these were only for reference to the style of sign they were looking for.

I told them that this was the type of work we like to do and gave some ballpark estimates based on the sizes and styles that they needed. Our prices were within their budget, and we soon received our usual 50% deposit to move things further along.

I made two rough layouts to establish a better understanding of what they wanted. I also presented options for adding more details, deeper dimensions in the borders and carvings, etc. They settled on one of the designs with a hand-carved graphic, custom letter style and a textured background. It was in the mid-range of the estimated costs.

I cleaned up the rough drawing in CorelDraw and provided the client with a full-color, detailed layout including dimensions, material specs and sizes. The sign would be 36-by-60by-1½-in., constructed from solid PVC, routed, hand carved and finished with acrylic latex paints. The estimated production time was 11 hours; in the end it took close to 13 hours to complete.

We also used Real Gold 22K gold leaf vinyl as an accent for some of the border detail, which was thrown in as an added value. On most every custom sign we’ve done in the past 50 years, we have usually added more than the project called for as a way to show our appreciation to the client. This little extra that we add to the signs has more than paid off with continued business from many of our clients.

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