Introduction: 3D Insructable Sign

Picture of 3D Insructable Sign

heres a step by step to constructing your own 3D sign with out a laser engraver/cutter

Step 1: Patterns

Picture of Patterns

the first step is making patterns. I downloaded the images of the logo by doing a screen capture
then traced them in coreldraw, but you could probably do this in most graphics programs or do it by hand and use a projector if you need to enlarge it. I then sent it to my plotter to draw the pattern on paper, again you could do this by hand also.

Step 2: Cutting Substrates

Picture of Cutting Substrates

I then glued the paper patterns by first spraying the backside of the paper the letting it dry so as not to melt the styrofoam then burnish it on to the styrofoam, went to the bandsaw and cut it out. The foam is just the pink (or blue or gray) insulating foam found at most hardware / lumber stores. the acrylic is available at sign shops and plastic stores such as Tap Plastics or online.

Step 3: Carving

Picture of Carving

This foam is very easy to carve basic tools would include a bread knife, x-acto, and sandpaper.

be very easy with the sandpaper, if you get to aggressive you start pulling out chunks, and finer grits are usually better

After carving is done put two to three coats of waterbased primer on the foam and let dry well,
you should then be able to paint with just about any paint without affecting the foam, but to absolutely
use water based paints throughout this portion of the project

Step 4: Cutting the Acrylic

Picture of Cutting the Acrylic

now this part is where we could use a laser cutter, if we only had one. Again glue your patterns to the acrylic and take it to the bandsaw.

Then get some vinyl scraps from your local sign shop and put it in you laser cutter (oops) plotter and cut it out. if you dont have a plotter or laser engraver get a sign shop to cut it for you or print it out full size carefully cut out with an exact knife after lightly misting the paper pattern and adhering it to the vinyl.

Step 5: Finishing Up

Picture of Finishing Up

I didn't have any orange acrylic for the background so I painted some yellow acrylic orange using krylon
spray bombs. I then positioned the smaller acrylic pieces and used silicon to glue it down. I then glued down the carved hand to finish off the sign.

Step 6: Some Examples

Picture of Some Examples

Heres a few signs I've done using these techniques. The Juice Co logo on the brown wall uses EL wire around it and glows at night. The Klassy Ragz logo has a background spayed with same coating used to spray bedliners.

See more of my work at


msohaib (author)2014-02-21

D F D Academy

Waren-Neutron (author)2010-11-23

where it is found the examples?

Waren-Neutron (author)2010-11-23

you use a printer?

M4industries (author)2009-10-17

Step zero: aquire a $7000 laser cutter.

Ive used a laser cutter before to etch my iPod. But that was at TechShop Durham in NC. About 400mi away from my house. Techshop was a side trip. But where else does one have acess to a laser cutter? Preferably an epilog.

chrome123 (author)2009-09-18

you forgot a word in the yellow box

peterman921 (author)chrome1232009-09-18

what word would that be?

chrome123 (author)peterman9212009-09-18

"Did you Dharma makes spray glue." >> ""Did you know Dharma makes spray glue?"

robots199 (author)2009-04-12

I think with this same method, you could make the Left 4 Dead Hand On the Box. ( Runs to try it out ). Great Instructable.

LastDevil (author)2009-04-11

England mate, could use the info but i need a 16ft by 2ft sign and it would look great by somebody that knows what their doing ;)

peterman921 (author)LastDevil2009-04-11

I can probably get you hooked up if I know what city, Theres several guys I can get you hooked up with that live in the UK including England

LastDevil (author)peterman9212009-04-12

Thanks mate, PM sent

sgt_rock (author)2009-02-05

I L O V E the dharma initiative spray adhesive!!!!

peterman921 (author)sgt_rock2009-04-11

yeah, left over props from my coleslaw insructable

poolgirlblue (author)2009-02-11

your signs are beautiful.

peterman921 (author)poolgirlblue2009-04-11

Thanks. 20 years experience does that I guess. they used to not look quite as good but still saleable.

LastDevil (author)2009-04-11

I need a shop sign but think it's 2 far to post and would cost a lot to send it :( Yaour great at what you do .... keep it up

peterman921 (author)LastDevil2009-04-11

where are you? can you use this information to make your own?

Creativeman (author)2009-01-16

You inspired me...I had my hand on hand from a previous project. I actually made several of them by pouring plaster of paris into regular latex medical gloves. You can form them somewhat by manipulating the full gloves before the plaster sets up. the letters are cut from EPS foam with my hotwire. All mounted on cardboard....thought you might enjoy seeing this, and thanks for your ible. Cman

FullyInvolvedScientist (author)2008-09-27

Great Instructable! Very cool!

GorillazMiko (author)2008-02-09

Cool! I wish I could do this. Is the Juice Co. your place? If it is, you should put the Instructables sign up on the wall! :-)

peterman921 (author)GorillazMiko2008-02-10

No not my place of business they just hire me to do signs once in a while

Yerboogieman (author)2007-12-29

i have the same band saw, delta makes some pretty ok ones

kirnex (author)2007-09-12

Nice lookin' signs. The hand came out particularly nice, as renditions go. Another way to make it, if you're not so artistic (or perhaps just lazy like me) is to use semi-damp sand and push your own hand in it, then carefully remove it and use the impression to cast a plaster (or even paper pulp) replica. You can always tweak it with your Dremel if it has some rough edges, but if you get the sand the right consistency, it ought to be pretty true-to-form. Thanks for sharing this with us.

odecom5 (author)2007-06-26

very nice! i'm in the signage business too! i really enjoy it. those others you posted above are pretty cool signs. i went to your websites to check out more of your work but neither of them work :(

peterman921 (author)odecom52007-06-26

just type into your browser

odecom5 (author)odecom52007-06-26

edit: also, i like your very subtle hints that you might want the laser cutter lol

FreakCitySF (author)2007-06-25

So what would you typically charge a client for the Juice Creations or the Instructable sign?

peterman921 (author)FreakCitySF2007-06-25

well in my area (southern Oregon) I would charge about 250 for the instructable sign it only took about three hours plus materials, the juice creations sign was $600. Neither was very big everything, on the Juice sign was cutout, no vinyl.

FreakCitySF (author)peterman9212007-06-26

That's a cool little business you got going!

FreakCitySF (author)2007-06-25

::Jaw Drops:: awesomeness need the squigly lines on the hand! Cool stuff I never even knew what a plotter was!

peterman921 (author)FreakCitySF2007-06-25

I thought about it but too much work for a freebie, but if I ever get a laser cutter I'll just cut the layers and stack them and it will look more like the logo.

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