Two of my good friends decided to open up a Texas Styled BBQ joint ( AAA Bar ) this summer and as is my nature I decided to help them out as much as possible. They had a very small budget so we had to make do with what we could build / find / recycle / steal, especially when it came to decor items. I was lucky enough to find on Craigslist some cheap vintage neon sign parts (The sign was from the 50's) that I could use to create a one of a kind neon sign for their bar. Here is a link to the Instructable which guides you through the building of the bar: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-use-Free-Pallets-to-Build-a-BBQ-Restaurant/
Note: Neon signs use very high voltages and broken tubes can contain dangerous elements so use extreme care if you want to do something similar to this Instructable.
Step 1: In the beginning...
When I showed my friends the neon i aquired they loved the "Bar" but did not want it with the "lemon" surround. This would allow me to extend the budget and make two neon signs from my one purchase. For the opening, I built a quick frame out of aluminum bar stock that would hold the neon to the wall. I acquired used neon transformer on eBay (there are many available from broken neon beer signs). This sign became the focal point of their "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" wall. I put the yellow tube in my "to do" pile while I tried to figure out what the best to do with this odd shaped neon tube.
As I was researching elements for the bar one recurring element that always popped up was the mighty "Pig". Many BBQ places have cartoon pigs as their mascot or logo so I wanted to avoid this and make the sign as a more "realistic" pig. I pictured this as a pig standing on a hill at night with the moon behind him. So the "Lemon" neon tube became the "Moon" neon :-)
In December Ponoko.com had a half price sale on their largest "P3" size of sheet metal so it was time to act. I downloaded a "Pig" drawing and imported it into Corel Draw to modify it and trace the outline. I needed the size of the pig to match as closely as possible the size of the neon yet be able to fit on the size of the metal that was available from Ponoko.
As I was playing around with the drawing I decided to create "cut out" letters spelling BBQ on the pigs belly. This would allow the light to shine out through the back. Once I had the vector drawing in Corel I imported this into Inkscape and updated the lines to be "cutting lines" for Ponoko. This file was then uploaded to Ponoko and the pig was ordered.