View Full Version : Ten Foot Long Entry Sign

Keith Outten
04-16-2008, 6:15 AM
This is my current project I am working on for the Yoder Barn Theatre in Newport News Virginia. The sign is ten foot long, made from Dupont Corian and machined on the ShopBot at CNU. This is the first time I have made a sign longer than the ShopBot's eight foot long bed. I used a laser pointer in the Spindle chuck to reset the XY origin on a match line that I cut on the left end to cut the remaining text on the right side. I used a 60 degree router bit for the outlines and cut the waste areas with a 1/4" end mill. The 60 degree bit provides the nice sharp outlines and square corners.

The pictures demonstrate one of the reasons that Corian is such a great material for signs. The technique couldn't be any simpler, after machining or laser engraving the text you spray paint the recessed areas. You then sand the top surface with a random orbital sander which removes the surface paint leaving pristine text and graphics without the need for masking. The labor savings more than offset the cost of the material. This sign can be refreshed or the color changed every few years while it is in place by spray painting again and sanding the surface with an ROS.

This sign will be mounted on a curved exterior brick wall that has an 11" chord over 20 feet on Thursday, weather permitting. Today I will be fabricating the mounting brackets and purchasing the fasteners.


Mike Null
04-16-2008, 8:20 AM
Good looking work. What was your choice for paint?

Keith Outten
04-16-2008, 11:09 AM

I wanted to try out the new Fusion paint that is made specifically for plastics but I couldn't find the right color. I used Ace Hardware brand interior/exterior enamel spray paint because it doesn't load up sandpaper near as bad as other brands. It only took about 9 sanding disks to sand the entire sign which is 25 square feet.

I would like to get an opportunity to try a colored epoxy fill on this type of sign.


Michael Kowalczyk
04-17-2008, 1:58 AM
Nice Job Keith. I had to do something like that before but neat idea about the laser pen to mark it. I just made one long line in the "Y" axis and then 2 lines on the "X" axis, 1 for the top and the spaced accordingly for the bottom. The longer the lines the easier it was to line them up.
Always nice to see your projects and explanations.


Joe Chritz
04-17-2008, 2:52 AM
I have used the fusion paint on some acrylic mirror that I made a sign for my bar with but using a laser engraver through the protective sheet then spraying.

Granted it is behind a glass frame but the stuff seems to melt right in to the plastic and bonds great, even without sanding a tooth onto the plastic.

Nice looking sign and believe it or not I even know what an 11" cord is. Who said geometry wouldn't be useful someday.


Belinda Williamson
04-17-2008, 6:56 PM
Nice sign Keith. We've not fabricated anything this large but have done smaller pieces in Corian. I don't mask, but spray paint and sand just as you do. You are absolutely right, the time savings is a nice bonus. I think Corian is highly underated as a sign material, at least it is in our area. Thanks for sharing.

Larry Bratton
04-17-2008, 9:38 PM

I wanted to try out the new Fusion paint that is made specifically for plastics but I couldn't find the right color. I used Ace Hardware brand interior/exterior enamel spray paint because it doesn't load up sandpaper near as bad as other brands. It only took about 9 sanding disks to sand the entire sign which is 25 square feet.

I would like to get an opportunity to try a colored epoxy fill on this type of sign.

Be cautious with Fusion. I have had it craze acrylic. It contains some pretty volatile chemicals like tolulene. I have used Rustoleum brand paints on acrylic with good success. They have a metallic gold that is gorgeous on acrylic.

Keith Outten
05-08-2008, 6:22 AM
The rest of the story.

The orginal sign broke in two pieces when we installed it on the curved wall. It flexed into position perfectly but it broke into two pieces when we inserted the second set of screws.

Back to the drawing board. I found a local top shop that owned a large heating oven, the capacity was 100". I resized the sign to 96" and built a bending form and off I went to get the new sign thermally bent to fit my new form which went well. After the bending was complete I painted and sanded the surface. Mounting screws were installed through the face of the sign and covered with Dupont adhesive, then sanded flat. The color match of the adhesive is a perfect match and will not discolor over time.

There is something to learn on almost every job. This one taught me that Corian should always be thermally formed rather than rely on the materials flexibility. I did consider the thermal expansion in my design as I used 1" by 2" aluminum channel bolted vertically to the brick then mounted the Corian to the other edge of the channel. This provides a 2" standoff from the wall and allows the sign to expand and contract as the temperature changes.

Here is the final results.

Now I am trying to convince our Theater Director to let me add two theater faces, one on each side of the sign.


Joe Pelonio
05-08-2008, 9:46 AM
Wow, I bet you said some bad words when that beautiful sign snapped!:eek:

That is how we learn sometimes when venturing into new materials.

Nice job on the final product!

Keith Outten
05-09-2008, 7:17 AM
If the wall hadn't been curved this would have been one of the easiest projects I have done lately. The technique couldn't be easier, just route, spray paint and sand the top surface. I use the same technique on door signs using the laser engraver.

Although the Corian is more expensive than other sheet products there is a cost savings in labor when masking is not required. The sign is also perfect for exterior service and it is easy to repair should there be any vandalism like unwanted spray painting or marking. Maintenance on this sign should be a couple of hours every five years or so and life expectancy is about thirty years.

You do learn something on almost every job, this one the lesson was hard to swallow but I won't forget :)


Bob Cole
05-11-2008, 2:44 AM

You are one of the reasons I got into this business. Seeing the amazing ways you complete projects is proof that thinking out of the box is a must.

Keith Outten
05-11-2008, 10:27 AM
Well thanks Bob, I appreciate the kind words. My approach to the sign business is mostly common sense and a fondness for using uncommon materials. This makes my work different than those who have 30 years of experience that I can't compete with toe to toe.

Stephen Beckham
05-11-2008, 9:41 PM
Keith - that is awesome - I wonder how it would look with back lighting...

My father just dropped off several large pieces of corian from our old shop days (back when there were only three colors of corian - white, white with brown strips and white with green strips)- I haven't a clue what to do with them yet. They are stacked up down in the barn next to my huge piece of walnut that is in the same category...

I figure some day - I'll be sending you a frantic message along the lines of "well I did this... and it did that... and now what do I do? :eek:"

Keith Outten
05-12-2008, 6:54 AM

Glacier white Corian isn't translucent but Dupont has two new white products that are. They are Glacier Ice and Arctic Ice and both will be available soon in 1/2" and 1/4" thicknesses. I have sample tiles of both colors and a 30" square piece of Arctic Ice Dupont sent me to do some dye-sub testing. For back-lighting and for Lithophanes these new colors will be fantastic new products.

I have received permission to make the two theater masks to add to the Yoder Barn sign. I found two very nice masks in the Corel Draw 12 clipart, so that is my task for today. I may cut them from Trupan first to make sure the size is proportional to the sign and acceptable to the powers that be :) The mask sizes are 24" by 18" which I think will compliment the sign nicely and be very visible from the adjacent road. I would like to use a dark green Corian as a backer and stand-offs for depth but the budget for this sign won't allow me to purchase another sheet. The Trupan masks can be used inside of the Ferguson Center for the Arts so it won't be wasted time or material.

More pictures to follow........


Keith Outten
05-23-2008, 7:52 AM
Here is the final picture of our Yoder Barn entry sign. I finished and installed the two Corian theater masks. Although I am pleased with the final result I wish I had been given a larger budget to make this sign. This one will last for many years with minimal maintenance and it was fabricated way under the quote we received from an outside company but I wish I had the opportunity to do something really grand :)