Art and Letters

That's a lot of letters!
hot off the CNC

Two full sheets of 1" thick HDU later, we have quite a stack of letters for a project with the Lincoln County School District.  The letters are going up over the weekend as the kids are back to school on Monday.  I thought this might be an intertesting project to get a glimpse of what goes into making letters which are mounted on a wall outdoors.  The HDU is a great material to use and is extremely durable in our climate.

These letters are all cut out and drilled (for future studs) and also marked with a code for which school and number for their order on the wall.

Paper pattern coming off the plotter
Paper pattern coming off the plotter

The paper pattern is critical to aligning the letters on the wall in the correct position and tell me where the holes need to be drilled.  Setting the letters up to be identified and drilled all in the art step seem time consuming but in the long run it is very efficient and practical use of time.  This particular pattern will get split and separated to leave some space between the lines.

aluminum studs expoxied into place
aluminum studs expoxied into place

I didn't have a picture for it but each letter was routed by hand to remove the tabs / burr edge which connected it to the main sheet so it doesn't move around while being cut.  At the same time, we put a slight radius on the face of the letters to soften the look of the letter.

Each letter is drilled on the CNC machine with a corresponding hole to the pattern into which we epoxy the threaded alum stud.  It's a time consuming process which in this case involved gluing in hundreds of studs.


Lots of steps in the painting process.  Two coats of primer, three coats of color, and a final coat of clear (satin in this case).  It was great to see the letters get their final colors as we used high quality acrylic metallic paints for the job.  We paint our signs in a variety of ways.  These letters were painted with a brush and also with two different types of HVLP guns.  Metallics are interesting to paint, they never seemed to lie nicely with a brush but once sprayed on, the metallics looks great!

primed and ready for color
primed and ready for color
Painted and drying
Painted and drying
Gloss Coat
Gloss Coat

Installed on Hardiplank
Installed on Hardiplank

Here is a final shot of one of the sets mounted on the wall.  The building is drilled and the letters are mounted with silicone (and sometimes VHB tape for temporary holding power).  The silicone/stud seals the holes and holds the letters in place.  Whether it's a concrete, wood, EIFS, or Hardiplank siding the stud mount gives us a secure and long lasting installation.


Now to finish up the remaining sets of letters . . . I didn't have anything else I wanted to do with my weekend (if you knew me as my friends do, they know I would rather be in the shop working . . either on a job or cool sample project!)


Speaking of cool sample projects, I hope to write about a few of those in upcoming blogs so continue reading...

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