High density urethane board [HDU] lettering and hand-carved farm scene on a panel of 3mm aluminum composite material inlaid in a 5-by-13-ft. panel of 2-in. HDU board, by Mike and Jay Szczoczarz, Countryside Signs, Seekonk, Massachusetts. The sign is finished with Matthews satin acrylic polyurethane with 23K gold leaf on the letters, cove trim and farm scene details. “This is a redesign of an older sign,” says Mike. “The farm scene graphic was originally done by a friend of ours, Tom Casselman of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.”
Hand-carved 66-by-40-in. panel of SignFoam high density urethane board. The lettering, pinstripe and pictorial of the needles are Ronan oil-based lettering enamels, and the panel is finished with exterior acrylic paint. Curt Stenz, Curt Stenz Graphics, Marathon, Wisconsin
White acrylic sign face; graphics were printed on clear media and laminated. Braun Bleamer, Jet Signs, Palmerton, Pennsylvania
CNC-cut PVC letters and logo on painted overlaid plywood panel. Andrea CinanniWilson, Southern Sign Company, Wilmington, North Carolina
Cut Oracal 751 vinyl film on overlaid plywood finished with exterior acrylic paint. Russ Mills, Russ Mills Signs, Pineville, Kentucky
Sandblasted SignFoam HDU board with cut-out gold anodized aluminum anodized letters. “I wanted a different texture for the background,” says Bruce Ottway, Ottway Signs, Murray, Kentucky, “so I scattered a bunch of wire coat hangers, brazed them together, then blasted through them.”
Digital print on aluminum composite material. Braun Bleamer, Jet Signs, Palmerton, Pennsylvania
Letters were cut by hand with a jigsaw from ¾-in. HDU board, then beveled with chisels and finished with 23k gold leaf and mounted on the two 30-by-32-in. sandblasted panels of 1½-in. HDU board, which was finished with lettering enamel. “The two HDU faces are sandwiched over a custom steel bracket,” says Curt Stenz, Curt Stenz Graphics, Marathon, Wisconsin. “I didn’t have ample vertical height on the storefront to use a traditional hanging sign, and this mounting worked out quite well. The bracket is mounted to the wall with Tapcon masonry screws.”
Direct print on aluminum composite material. Mark Yearwood, Yearwood Design Works, Shawnee, Oklahoma
Sandblasted Precision Board HDU board, finished with 1 Shot enamel paint. Illustration is a digital print. Rob Estes, Brushstroke Signs, Paducah, Kentucky
Sandblasted old-growth western red cedar, finished with 1 Shot enamel paint. Graphic uses cut vinyl film details. Valley Sign, Orting, Washington
Digital print on aluminum composite material. “We use solid core ACM whenever a sign might get some abuse,” says Braun Bleamer, Jet Signs, Palmerton, Pennsylvania. “ACM with a corrugated core is more rigid than the solid core, but it also dents easier if it gets bumped.”
Hand lettered on two aluminum composite panels, 8-by-8-ft. overall. “This was designed in Adobe Illustrator,” says Curt Stenz, Curt Stenz Graphics, Marathon, Wisconsin, “as they also ordered business cards and wanted an art file for advertising. I projected the design and lettered it with Ronan enamel, except for the phone number, which was going to change.”
Cut vinyl lettering on an 18-by-16-in. panel made of 3mm aluminum composite over 1-in. aluminum tubing with a 3/4-in. SignFoam HDU outer frame. All vinyl lettering is 18-in. by 16-in. Peter Poanessa, Keene Signworx, Swanzey, New Hampshire
Lettering was painted through a mask on 4-ft.-diameter ¾-in. overlaid plywood double-faced sign. The plywood was finished with MAS Epoxy edge sealer and Chromatic background enamels. The leaf is ¼-in. PVC sheet that was heated and molded by hand. Peter Poanessa, Keene Signworx, Swanzey, New Hampshire
CNC-cut HDU letters and address oval on PVC panels finished with satin Matthews acrylic polyurethane paint. The letters and trim are finished with 23K gold leaf. Mike and Jay Szczoczarz, Countryside Signs, Seekonk, Massachusetts.
Sandblasted Precision Board HDU board finished with exterior acrylic paint and palladium leaf on the primary copy. Mark Yearwood, Yearwood Design Works, Shawnee, Oklahoma

Sign panels and substrates at work

By SignCraft Magazine

Posted on Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

Most of the substrates and panels used for signs aren’t mainstream building materials. You won’t find most of them at the local big box lumberyard. MDO, ACM, HDU, PVC and the like usually come from suppliers who specialize in providing materials and supplies to sign makers. That’s because they have unique characteristics that most typical building materials don’t have, which make them ideal for sign making.

Knowing how to best take advantage of those characteristics is an essential skill for sign makers. While you can learn it from experience, by trial and error, you can also take a shortcut and learn by seeing how others put these materials to work. Seeing how others utilize these products lets you borrow from their experience. You’ll see how they used the characteristics of the material to add to the effect they created on the sign or to keep a sign within budget.

Once in a creative sign shop, these unique panels become the substance of all sorts of effective, high value sign advertising. A quick trip through the pages of any issue of SignCraft shows interesting uses of all these materials—and more. Take a look at these sign projects that we’ve seen recently and see how these sign makers put the substrates to work to deliver a variety of highly effective signs that were practical to produce.


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