Essential tools: Pounce wheels and perforated patterns
A simple paper pattern speeds letter installation, painted signs and even vinyl signs
By Mike Jackson
Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2020
For decades, sign makers used a simple tool called a pounce wheel to make perforated patterns. Those patterns were used to help with both quick and complex layouts, accurate letter locations for installing individual letters, and for much quicker execution of repetitive layouts with the brush.
Pounce wheels are simple to use, are relatively inexpensive and last a lifetime. A 1938 sign supply catalog listed a basic pounce wheel for under a dollar, and one site I found listed a new #12 Grifhold Pounce wheel for $7. Almost every sign painter’s sign kit contained at least one pounce wheel, and often several. It was an essential tool—just like charcoal sticks, pencils and a tape measure.
As computerized technology entered the market in the early ’80s, manufacturers were keenly aware of the need for perforated patterns. The Signmaker III, introduced by Gerber Scientific Products, was a console-based plotter capable of pen plotting on paper, tangentially cutting vinyl, and perforating paper patterns.