Precut and finish the panels: 3.5 hours The letters were cut from the leftmost panel of ¾-in. HDU, board which has the blend already painted on it. The middle panel of 3/4-in. HDU board was used to make the top and bottom banner panels. The main sign panel, at right, was 1½-in. HDU board. I masked the panels with Oramask before routing.
Rout the main panel and all components: 4 hours The router cut a pocket for each of the letters and left the border raised while cutting down the background. It also cut down the background in the illustration, leaving the silhouette in the foreground. The pocket for the letters is .015 larger on all sides, which is usually taken up by the paint, so the letters almost snap in.
Hand carve illustration details: 2 hours With a chisel, I carved the texture in the mountains in the illustration.
Hand carve the antlers: 1.5 hours The antlers were cut out then hand carved, and texture was added by hand with a wire brush.
Here the components are dry fit and ready for finishing.
Finish the antlers: 1.5 hours After finishing the antlers with two coats of beige exterior enamel, I antiqued them by putting on a glaze coat of brown and wiping most of it off. It stayed in the textured areas, creating a nice effect.
Airbrush the illustration: 1 hour I masked off the illustration and used the airbrush to paint it and add blends.
Paint the panel: 2 hours I masked off the illustration, then primed and painted the panel with exterior satin acrylic paint. Oil-based enamel was used on the rest of the sign.
Finish the letters: 1 hour The letters were prefinished with a blend. When I cut them out on the router, I had it bevel the edges. I painted the bevel the same color as the light color of the blend.
Assemble and clean up: 2 hours Wherever two unfinished HDU surfaces were bonded, the assembly was done with Gorilla Glue. If one or both surfaces were painted, I used Gorilla Construction Adhesive to bond them. Along with the adhesives, I used screws through the back of the sign.

What’s it cost to produce this 48-by-42-in. 3D sign?

By Michael Keene

Posted on Monday, August 26th, 2019

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HDU board: $215
Paint and misc: $144
Total materials: $359

Sales/design/file prep: 3 hours
Precut panels to shape: 1 hour
Finish panels and mask: 2.5 hours
Rout panels: 4 hours
Hand carving: 3 hours
Finish paint work: 5 hours
Assembly and clean up: 2 hours
Total time: 20.5 hours
Though most of my work comes from referrals and word-of-mouth, some arrives thanks to my website—which is the only real marketing that I do. This project came about that way. The customer, who is over two hours away in the mountains of the western part of the state, found me online. They emailed me saying they had an existing design and wanted me to fabricate the sign for their farm.

The artwork turned out to be fairly complex. When you ungrouped the parts of the design, there were a lot of little pieces. I spent about two hours getting it ready for the router. Sales time and other file prep added about an hour.

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